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Joint-Stock War

Valerie Pearl, 3 May 1984

The Age of Elizabeth: England Under the Later Tudors 1547-1603 
by D.M. Palliser.
Longman, 450 pp., £13.95, April 1983, 0 582 48580 0
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After the Armada: Elizabethan England and the Struggle for Western Europe 1588-1595 
by R.B. Wernham.
Oxford, 613 pp., £32.50, February 1984, 0 19 822753 1
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The Defeat of the Spanish Armada 
by Garrett Mattingly.
Cape, 384 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 224 02070 6
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The First Elizabeth 
by Carolly Erickson.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 333 36168 7
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The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: Essays in Honour of Gordon Donaldson 
edited by Ian Cowan and Duncan Shaw.
Scottish Academic Press, 261 pp., £14.50, March 1983, 0 7073 0261 7
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... are discussed in two contributions: one (D. Hay) deals with Italian influences, the other (D. Shaw) with the remarkable extent and quality of the library of the Bishop of Orkney. There is an examination (M.B.H. Sanderson) of the social status of 205 Edinburgh merchants between 1570 and 1603 as shown by their testaments. An English memorandum of 1580 had ...

Pretending to be the parlourmaid

John Bayley, 2 December 1993

Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell 
edited by Regina Marler, introduced by Quentin Bell.
Bloomsbury, 593 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 7475 1550 6
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... terminated. The pictures and decorative work of the Bloomsbury English Modernists – Bell, Fry, Duncan Grant, Dora Carrington (who can be one of the best) – are rightly and properly admired in art circles, but they know their place, and are seen as doing so. They do not compete with the later French masters of Post-Impressionism. Virginia Woolf, on the ...

Exit Humbug

David Edgar: Theatrical Families, 1 January 2009

A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 620 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7011 7987 8
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... his death in 1905, Terry extended her range, not least into the work of her correspondent Bernard Shaw. She died, a national treasure, in 1928. The succeeding generation followed their parents into the business, though inevitably they were overshadowed. Laurence and Harry Irving were both actors (the former was a playwright as well). Terry’s daughter, Edith ...

Mrs Webb and Mrs Woolf

Michael Holroyd, 7 November 1985

... idol she has since become. The reputation of E.M. Forster was in decline. The paintings of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell were not privately collected and had been demoted to the cellars of many public galleries. The art criticism of Roger Fry and Clive Bell was no longer considered significant, and few people knew the name of Carrington. The best-known ...

Tomorrow they’ll boo

John Simon: Strindberg, 25 October 2012

Strindberg: A Life 
by Sue Prideaux.
Yale, 371 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 0 300 13693 7
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... the ten thousand or so letters. He lived for 63 years, yet wrote sixty-odd plays, equalling Shaw, who lived thirty years longer. And not only plays: novels, memoirs, poetry, essays. He was also a superb painter. He led a complicated life with manifold pursuits to which Sue Prideaux’s Strindberg: A Life does condign justice. She is ...

Seductress Extraordinaire

Terry Castle: The vampiric Mercedes de Acosta, 24 June 2004

‘That Furious Lesbian’: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta 
by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 210 pp., £16.95, June 2004, 0 8093 2579 9
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Women in Turmoil: Six Plays 
by Mercedes de Acosta, edited by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 252 pp., £26.95, June 2003, 0 8093 2509 8
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... managed to bed just about everybody who was anybody in the sapphic world of her time: from Isadora Duncan, Alla Nazimova, Pola Negri, Tamara Karsavina, Katharine Cornell, Marie Laurencin, Michael Strange and Eva Le Gallienne in the 1920s and 1930s to Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Hope Williams, Libby Holman, Ona Munson (Belle Watling in Gone with the ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... a study of the interpenetration of journalism and the arts. Journalists – including the likes of Shaw and Wilde – enjoyed controversy about spiritual crisis, decadence, declining morality, patriotism and so on; and editors rigged their correspondence columns to start new controversies. Wilde was not alone in being ‘adept at finding himself ...

Gloom without Doom

Frank Kermode, 19 April 1990

Letters of Leonard Woolf 
edited by Frederic Spotts.
Weidenfeld, 616 pp., £30, March 1990, 0 297 79635 6
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... but Forster, fifteen thousand of whose letters survive, has been cut down to a few hundred. Even Shaw and Henry James were reduced to four admittedly vast volumes apiece, a very small proportion of what is extant. Leonard Woolf, of whose letters eight thousand were available, has had to be shrunk to this one sizeable volume of about six hundred. His editor ...
The Invasion Handbook 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 201 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 571 20915 7
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... and Stefan Zweig. From the list of two thousand people to be eliminated Lloyd George and Shaw are expressly exempted. When the invasion has succeeded the Duke of Windsor will resume his throne and Henry Williamson replace the Poet Laureate, John Masefield. If these instructions and predictions derive from a genuine document, then that document is ...

A Broad Grin and a Handstand

E.S. Turner: ‘the fastest woman in the world’ and the wild early years of motor-racing, 24 June 2004

The Bugatti Queen: In Search of a Motor-Racing Legend 
by Miranda Seymour.
Simon and Schuster, 301 pp., £15.99, February 2004, 0 7432 3146 5
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... press urging drivers not to stop after an accident if they had a lady on board was Bernard Shaw. Speed worship began to infect hard-headed urban councils, as one town after another (and not just in Britain) began holding Grand Prix round-the-houses races, or even round-the-houses-and-into-the-trees races. And what sort of landowner would refuse to play ...

Damnable Heresy

David Simpson: The Epic of Everest, 25 October 2012

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest 
by Wade Davis.
Vintage, 655 pp., £12.99, October 2012, 978 0 09 956383 9
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... coat as an alternative to the tweed Norfolk jackets that made the Everest party look, to Bernard Shaw, like a ‘Connemara picnic surprised by a snowstorm’. He was Australian and thus fit to die in the trenches but not to carry the flag of ‘imperial redemption’. The hero of Davis’s account of the first expedition is a Canadian, Oliver Wheeler, who ...

Matrioshki

Craig Raine, 13 June 1991

Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life 
by Richard Garnett.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 402 pp., £20, March 1991, 1 85619 033 1
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... we learn, was fundamentally heterosexual, but willing to comply with the physical demands of Duncan Grant – it was the emotional burden he found insupportable. Despite their subsequent celibacy, Constance and Edward were lovers before they married. Certainly, she was no prude and, via her husband, recommended ‘Malthusian sheaths’ to her son. In ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... rules. She hadn’t been sure whether she should let Geoffrey Keynes buy a portrait of her by Duncan Grant: ‘We don’t copulate without marriage,’ he wrote, ‘but we do meet in cafés, talk on buses, go on unchaperoned walks, stay with each other, give each other books, without marriage. Can’t we even have each other’s pictures?’ But the ...

Erasures

Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... the immigrants and their hosts were not helped by the Irish custom of waking the dead. William Duncan, Liverpool’s Medical Officer of Health, wrote to the Health Committee, begging to direct their ‘attention to the objectionable custom of retaining the bodies of the dead, especially those who have died of infectious fevers, in the sleeping rooms of the ...

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