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Throw your testicles

Tom Shippey: Medieval Bestiaries, 19 December 2019

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World 
edited by Elizabeth Morrison, with Larisa Grollemond.
Getty, 354 pp., £45, June 2019, 978 1 60606 590 7
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... almost a Breughel before its time.Quite often the beasts in the pictures try to climb out. As Elizabeth Morrison points out in her essay, it was difficult to get everything in, and artists had to collaborate with their scribes. A manuscript from St Petersburg contains a picture of a yale, a creature described by Pliny as a kind of antelope ‘the ...

Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... first published as a volume in 1988, and now expanded and updated to include Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Susan Sontag, Margaret Atwood remarks that the writers have been brought together ‘over what, in some cases, would be their dead bodies’. Dorothy Parker, for instance, says she is ‘a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex ... But when we ...

Self-Positioning

Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... work by eight poets: Robert Conquest, D.J. Enright, Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie, John Holloway, Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Larkin and John Wain, to which list Conquest’s volume added the name of Thom Gunn. Insofar as there has ever been agreement on the matter, the Movement has been taken to consist of these nine writers. They appeared in these ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... into’ or the progress from eiders to eiderdown. Such lines and shorelines bring to mind Elizabeth Bishop, littered as they are with correspondences – a turtle like ‘a covered wagon’ or the ocean ‘wrinkling like tinfoil’. She lays the paint on more thickly than Bishop: but can she rise to the grandiloquence of ‘At the Fishhouses’? At ...

Churchill by moonlight

Paul Addison, 7 November 1985

The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... age of 12 he was a Page of Honour to George V and in the late 1940s Private Secretary to Princess Elizabeth. From Harrow, and Trinity College, Cambridge, he entered the diplomatic service the year before Munich, and thoroughly approved Chamberlain’s course of action. A straightforward Anglican and Conservative, loyal to his family and background, Colville ...

Superior Persons

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1986

Travels with a Superior Person 
by Lord Curzon, edited by Peter King.
Sidgwick, 191 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 283 99294 8
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The Ladies of Castlebrae 
by A. Whigham Price.
Alan Sutton, 242 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 228 1
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Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure 
by Tony Morrison, Anne Brown and Ann Rose.
BBC, 160 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 563 20424 9
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Miss Fane in India 
by [author], edited by John Pemble.
Alan Sutton, 246 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 240 0
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Explorers Extraordinary 
by John Keay.
Murray/BBC Publications, 195 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 7195 4249 9
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A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta 1840-41 
by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Grace Thornton.
Peter Owen, 182 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 7206 0636 5
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The Irish Sketch-Book 1842 
by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Blackstaff, 368 pp., £9.95, December 1985, 0 85640 340 7
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Mr Rowlandson’s England 
by Robert Southey, edited by John Steel.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 202 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 907462 77 4
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... to an heiress for four years in order to travel the world, which he could not ask a wife to do. Elizabeth Longford, in her introduction, describes this as a characteristic blend of ‘cold calculation and sensitive consideration’. The book consists of extracts from Curzon’s Tales of Travel, Russia in Central Asia and Leaves from a Viceroy’s Notebook ...

As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes

Jenny Turner: On Feminism, 15 December 2011

... with the less privileged sisters. And yet, the strange thing is how often they haven’t: Elizabeth Cady Stanton opposed votes for freedmen; Betty Friedan made the epoch-defining suggestion that middle-class American women should dump the housework on ‘full-time help’. There are so many examples of this sort that it would be funny if it weren’t ...

Enthusiasts

Anita Brookner, 3 February 1983

Where I Used to Play on the Green 
by Glyn Hughes.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 575 02997 8
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Virginie 
by John Hawkes.
Chatto, 212 pp., £8.50, January 1983, 0 7011 3908 0
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Ancient Enemies 
by Elizabeth North.
Cape, 230 pp., £7.95, November 1982, 0 224 02052 8
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Dancing Girls 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 01835 3
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Master of the Game 
by Sidney Sheldon.
Collins, 495 pp., £8.95, January 1983, 0 00 222614 6
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... indicates a high degree of expertise in the author. Ancient Enemies is a new departure for Elizabeth North. She has, before, left tantalising trails of unexpected connections and consequences; she has also, notably in Everything in the Garden, proved that she can produce a masterly pastiche of period speech and behaviour. Here she has done both of ...

How good is it?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB, 3 February 2011

The Holy Bible: King James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... to do so were its Tudor ancestors which were given official status by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I: first the Great Bible of 1539, making the announcement on the title page of its 1541 edition, and then the fairly light revision of the Great Bible undertaken in the 1560s by the Elizabethan episcopate. This Bishops’ Bible took ...

Associated Prigs

R.W. Johnson: Eleanor Rathbone, 8 July 2004

Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience 
by Susan Pedersen.
Yale, 469 pp., £25, March 2004, 0 300 10245 3
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... in the whole of England and Wales. At least as important, she formed a life-long friendship with Elizabeth Macadam, a strong, independent Scot who was to share her houses and be her main emotional support through life. Pedersen deals sensitively and well with this relationship as far as she is able – for both women went to extraordinary lengths to destroy ...

On the Threshold

Tom Nairn, 23 March 1995

Frameworks for the Future 
Northern Ireland Office, 37 pp., February 1995Show More
Northern Ireland: The Choice 
by Kevin Boyle and Tom Hadden.
Penguin, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 023541 8
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... like hundreds of others. Yet it is to this terrain that the almost unbearable nostalgia of Van Morrison’s music always returns. The outside world now mainly sees Protestant Belfast in terms of Ian Paisley Snr, a man who believes that bridges are built primarily to let the Devil in. But the bridges of Morrison’s music ...

Dazzling Philosophy

Michael Hofmann, 15 August 1991

Seeing things 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 113 pp., £12.99, June 1991, 0 571 14468 3
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... Jarrell quotes Cocteau’s advice to poets: learn what you can do, and then don’t do it.) Blake Morrison has drawn attention to the way Heaney likes to use the last poem of one book to suggest the nature of its successor, a pattern skilfully maintained over many books, beguiling his readers with a glimpse of the future. At the same time, though, in myself ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes, 18 June 1998

Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... each testified that he could manage on £1000 a year net. V.S. Pritchett needed a bit more. Elizabeth Bowen raised a few eyebrows at the time by confessing that ‘I would like to have £3500 a year net’ and Cyril Connolly, who organised Horizon’s survey, opted for ‘five pounds a day’ – £100 a day today: ‘If he is to enjoy leisure and ...

Long live the codex

John Sutherland: The future of books, 5 July 2001

Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future 
by Jason Epstein.
Norton, 188 pp., £16.95, March 2001, 0 393 04984 1
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... to offer puffs for Book Business: ‘brilliant, moving and profoundly insightful’ (Toni Morrison); ‘a putative classic … fine and impeccable style’ (Norman Mailer); ‘an extremely important literary document, elegantly written and impeccably argued’ (E.L. Doctorow). Norton should distribute little blue sachets of salt, like the ones you ...

Excepting the Aristocratical

Ian Gilmour, 23 March 1995

Marriage, Debt and the Estates System: English Landownership 1650-1950 
by John Habakkuk.
Oxford, 786 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820398 5
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... and left a million pounds to his heir, who became the first Lord Melbourne and married Elizabeth Milbanke, Byron’s friend and confidante. Dr Johnson’s opinion that the main motive for making money was to found a landed family was widely if not universally shared, and with it went the view that it was necessary for peers and baronets to possess ...

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