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In Her Philosopher’s Cloak

Barbara Graziosi: Hypatia

16 August 2017
Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher 
by Edward J. Watts.
Oxford, 205 pp., £19.99, April 2017, 978 0 19 021003 8
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... statue of Serapis. After she died, hefty bribes were paid to avoid court cases, and everyone calmed down. The story of Hypatia has been told many times and it isn’t easy to cast new light on it. EdwardWatts aims ‘to recognise the life she led as well as the death she suffered’. He tells her story following the conventions of modern biography, starting with her childhood, moving on to middle ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII

26 April 2012
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... Winter King opens in 1501. Henry had surmounted the prolonged and serious challenge of the second pretender, Perkin Warbeck, and removed the most dangerous alternative claimant to his throne, Edward, Earl of Warwick, the nephew of Edward IV in the male line. The king was poised to celebrate the marriage of his eldest son, Arthur, to the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. The splendid pageants ...
7 February 1980
Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives 
by Frederick Karl.
Faber, 1008 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11386 9
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... work of Jerry Allen; the Jungian account of Conrad by Gustav Morf; the psychoanalytic biography by Bernard Meyer; the impeccable edition of Conrad’s letters to Cunninghame Graham by C.T. Watts; certain key articles by Ian Watt – and this is not to mention the many critical works which incorporated biographical material, such as Eloise Knapp Hay’s The Political Novels of Joseph Conrad ...

Follies

George Melly

4 April 1991
A Surrealist Life 
by John Lowe.
Collins, 262 pp., £18, February 1991, 0 00 217941 5
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... Am I eccentric?’ EdwardJames once asked me in the days before I was added to his long list of enemies both real and imaginary. ‘I suppose I am, but I don’t mean to be. I’ve always tried to behave like everyone else ...

Christina and the Sid

Penelope Fitzgerald

18 March 1982
Christina Rossetti: A Divided Life 
by Georgina Battiscombe.
Constable, 233 pp., £9.50, May 1981, 0 09 461950 6
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The Golden Veil 
by Paddy Kitchen.
Hamish Hamilton, 286 pp., £7.95, May 1981, 0 241 10584 6
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The Little Holland House Album 
by Edward​ Burne-Jones and John Christian.
Dalrymple Press, 39 pp., £38, April 1981, 0 9507301 0 6
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... sun – and he said, “You must know these people, Ned; they are remarkable people: you will see a painter there, he paints a queer sort of pictures about God and Creation.” ’ The painter was Watts, and they had arrived at Little Holland House. This was a kind of manor farm in the middle of South Kensington, where Mrs Sarah Prinsep and her sisters held an unconventional salon every Sunday ...

Ripping the pig

Robert Bernard Martin

5 August 1982
The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson: Vol. 1 1821-1850 
edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon.
Oxford, 366 pp., £17.50, February 1982, 0 19 812569 0
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Tennyson: ‘In Memoriam’ 
edited by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1982, 0 19 812747 2
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... and son in repainting the portrait of Tennyson as a young man which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Emily Tennyson had never liked the picture, perhaps in part because she also disliked Edward FitzGerald, who had originally commissioned it from Samuel Laurence. Earlier she had asked Watts to repaint it, but he refused, and during her husband’s lifetime she had not succeeded in finding ...

He Who Must Bear All

John Watts: Henry V at Home

2 March 2017
Henry V: The Conscience of a King 
by Malcolm Vale.
Yale, 308 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 300 14873 2
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... from August 1417 onwards. The emergence of so-called ‘Chancery English’ is a hot topic for historians and literary scholars alike, and a famous, albeit much criticised, article from 1992 by J.H. Fisher argued that the Lancastrian kings had a ‘language policy’. Vale argues that although the king had no ‘policy’ as such, he was certainly conscious of the meanings attached to ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns

11 December 1997
Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... are best known in this country? Which verses by a canonical English poet do the largest number of people today know by heart? The best known Victorian poem is probably ‘Good King Wenceslas’ (by J.M. Neale), followed by ‘Once in royal David’s city’ (Mrs Alexander); ‘All things bright and beautiful’ (also Mrs Alexander) is less familiar than it used to be, but was once possibly the ...
21 February 1980
The Children’s Book of Comic Verse 
edited by Christopher Logue.
Batsford, 160 pp., £3.95, March 1980, 0 7134 1528 2
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The Children’s Book of Funny Verse 
edited by Julia Watson.
Faber, 127 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 571 11467 9
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Bagthorpes v. the World 
by Helen Cresswell.
Faber, 192 pp., £4.50, September 1980, 0 571 11446 6
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The Robbers 
by Nina Bawden.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1980, 0 575 02695 2
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... before one can be certain whether adults are speaking seriously, or think it funny if they are not. Christopher Logue who has compiled The Children’s Book of Comic Verse for Batsford, and Julia Watts in The Children’s Book of Funny Verse (Faber), have both grasped the essentials about a child’s sense of humour – far better than the 1935 editors of The Dragon Book of Verse where I first ...

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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... and began her own stage career at the age of six. Ten years later, she married a painter three times her age; they separated within ten months. Three years after that, she took up with the architect Edward William Godwin. They did not marry, but had a daughter and son together, and the expense of their upkeep drove her back to the stage. Her performance as Portia in The Merchant of Venice drew her to ...

At the V&A

T.J.​ Clark: ‘The Cult of Beauty’

19 May 2011
... represent fairly. Morris’s inimitable energy and delicacy are always in dialogue with Burne-Jones’s choked arabesques. The two arts are ‘interlaced’, to borrow a word from William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings, Caroline Arscott’s astonishing recent study of their relationship (Yale, £40, 2008). For every Rossetti formula femme fatale there is the true cloying proximity – ...

Don’t lock up the wife

E.S. Turner: Georgina Weldon

5 October 2000
A Monkey among Crocodiles: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of Mrs Georgina Weldon 
by Brian Thompson.
HarperCollins, 304 pp., £19.99, June 2000, 0 00 257189 7
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... eccentrics of the 19th century’. She enjoyed far more than fifteen minutes of fame, even though it did not get her into the usual reference books. She was the subject of a biography, in 1959, by Edward Grierson, Storm Bird: The Strange Life of Georgina Weldon, which Brian Thompson commends in his bibliography as ‘genial and entertaining’. His own book is as genial as the subject will allow ...

His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell

2 December 2010
J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... was bitter, the pavement covered in slush and my bones frozen to the marrow. These parades make the Americans look like imbeciles. But, the first page: I wrote it twice, satisfactory neither time. J.G. Farrell – a Liverpool-born, Oxford-educated writer of Anglo-Irish descent – was living in New York when he wrote these words in his diary on 18 March 1967. He was 32 and had published three ...

The German Ocean

D.J.​ Enright: Suffolk Blues

17 September 1998
The Rings of Saturn 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 296 pp., £15.99, June 1998, 1 86046 398 3
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... this falling out happened in the late 1890s.) And thence to Swinburne, whose life was ‘coterminous to the year’ (well, very nearly) with that of the Dowager Empress, and whose rambles with Watts-Dunton between Southwold and Dunwich had a sedative effect on the poet’s overwrought nerves. The thread breaks off with a visitor to The Pines, on Putney Hill, likening Swinburne to the silkworm ...

Down the Telescope

Nicholas Penny: The Art of Imitation

24 January 2019
Modern Painters, Old Masters: The Art of Imitation from the Pre-Raphaelites to the First World War 
by Elizabeth Prettejohn.
Yale, 286 pp., £45, June 2017, 978 0 300 22275 3
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... inheritance were. Noting the way in which he alludes to A Man in Armour in the National Gallery, then often still attributed to Giorgione, she refers to its possible influence on George Frederic Watts in the 1860s and Edward Burne-Jones in the 1870s. It also influenced Pater’s own fiction, as readers of Marius the Epicurean (1885) will appreciate: the young knight Cornelius tries on his armour ...

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