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Brian Harrison, 6 December 1984

Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... 1839 and 1939. She outlines and evaluates the contribution of Caroline Norton to law reform, Elizabeth Blackwell to the medical profession, Florence Nightingale to nursing, Emily Davies to education, Josephine Butler to the attack on the double standard of morality, Margaret Sanger to birth control, and Emma Goldman to causes that anticipate the feminism ...

How have they made it so soon?

John Lloyd, 21 November 1991

The Soviet Mafia 
by Arkady Vaksberg, translated by John Roberts and Elizabeth Roberts.
Weidenfeld, 275 pp., £19.99, September 1991, 0 297 81202 5
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... A recent interview I had with the chairman of the Russian Central Bank exemplifies the dangerously tense atmosphere within which the politics of the Soviet Union have been conducted since the August putsch – and underscores the importance of what Arkady Vaksberg writes in his uneven, irritating but critically important book. What Georgy Matiukhin wanted to say was that a large part of the developing business culture of the Soviet Union was criminal ...

The Amazing Mrs Charke

David Nokes, 1 June 1989

The Well-Known Troublemaker: A Life of Charlotte Charke 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 231 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 0 571 14743 7
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The Ladies: Female Patronage of Restoration Drama 
by David Roberts.
Oxford, 188 pp., £22.50, February 1989, 0 19 811743 4
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The Complete Lover: Eros, Nature and Artifice in the 18th-Century French Novel 
by Angelica Goodden.
Oxford, 329 pp., £32.50, January 1989, 0 19 815820 3
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... so in a jaunty tone that turns somersaults over despair. Such energy is sadly absent from David Roberts’s book The Ladies: Female Patronage of Restoration Drama, though, like Charke, Roberts is more concerned with events behind the scenes and in the auditorium than with those on the stage. Determinedly ...

Against the Current

Paul Rogers: British Sea Power, 6 February 2020

... On​ 14 April 1988, right at the end of the Iran-Iraq War, a US navy frigate, Samuel B. Roberts, hit a mine and was badly damaged. Ten of the crew were injured. The US blamed Iran – even though Iraq had been just as active in laying mines – and attacked the Iranian navy, sinking the frigate Sahand and the fast attack craft Joshan ...

Zigzags

John Bossy, 4 April 1996

The New Oxford History of England. Vol. II: The Later Tudors 
by Penry Williams.
Oxford, 628 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 19 822820 1
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... and Myres, and Stenton) and Taylor’s. I doubt if the new one will fare any better. John Roberts, the general editor, does not show his hand in detail, and we must keep our fingers crossed about the whole being greater than the parts by giving ‘an account of the development of our country in time’ – ‘our country’ meaning something different ...

Vitality

John Cannon, 10 May 1990

A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 803 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 19 822828 7
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Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832 
by Frank O’Gorman.
Oxford, 445 pp., £40, August 1989, 0 19 820056 0
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... the first volume of the New Oxford History of England series, under the general editorship of J.M. Roberts, is something of an awesome event. Generations of schoolchildren and students thumbed their way through their predecessors, Davies and Clark, Woodward and Ensor, and it must be an agreeable thought to the new authors that their books will be selling deep ...

Going up to Heaven

Susan Pedersen: Before the Pill, 28 May 2009

Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain 1918-60 
by Kate Fisher.
Oxford, 294 pp., £24, May 2008, 978 0 19 954460 8
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For Their Own Good: The Transformation of English Working-Class Health Culture, 1880-1970 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Ohio State, 409 pp., £64.95, October 2008, 978 0 8142 1094 9
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... 1950; the birth dates for Beier’s sample (which includes oral histories gathered in the 1970s by Elizabeth Roberts, one of the method’s great pioneers, for whom Beier worked), by contrast, range from 1872 to 1958. Beier, in other words, is examining the practices not only of Fisher’s informants’ generation, but also those of their parents and ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... threw down the gauntlet to oblivion: come and get me if you can. Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts are poets and professors of poetry, and the authors of a previous collaboration, Edgelands, which took as its subject the dejected spaces that buffer suburban developments, industrial parks, highways and airports. They have now teamed up for a second book ...

Blush, grandeur, blush

Norma Clarke: One of the first bluestockings, 16 December 2004

Hannah More: The First Victorian 
by Anne Stott.
Oxford, 384 pp., £20, September 2004, 0 19 927488 6
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... Cobbett called her ‘the Old Bishop in petticoats’), was already a celebrity. William Roberts, the family friend entrusted with the task of producing the book, made her into a saint. He presented her as a vessel chosen by God, who had carried her ‘through great temptations and trials’ to her ‘exemplary eminence’. Among Hannah ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... people who wouldn’t talk about his hero: these include Claire Bloom, Alexander Cohen, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Griffiths, Joseph Losey, James Mason, Vincente Minnelli, Mike Nichols, Rachel Roberts, Daphne Rye, Jean Simmons, and three of his wives, Sybil Christopher, ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Known only to his lovers and a few in his inner circle, the Game has now been made public in Neil Roberts’s remarkable biography of the poet, published almost a decade after Redgrove’s death, along with a new Collected Poems. The revelations in Roberts’s book have an undeniably voyeuristic fascination but they ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Why I Quit, 11 September 2014

... anniversary celebrations (as well as Walcott and Livingstone, the list includes Ben Okri, Michèle Roberts, Elizabeth Cook, Iain Sinclair, Tom Raworth and Irvine Welsh), the administrators told me ‘family fun’ was to be the mood. So instead, would I give a talk about The Wobbly Tooth, a little children’s book I wrote ...

Submission

Robert Taubman, 20 May 1982

A Chain of Voices 
by André Brink.
Faber, 525 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 571 11874 7
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How German is it 
by Walter Abish.
Carcanet, 252 pp., £6.75, March 1982, 0 85635 396 5
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Before she met me 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 224 01985 6
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Providence 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 01976 7
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Getting it right 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10805 5
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... reminds me of the comfortable romances of the Thirties that consoled us for the Depression. Cecil Roberts, author of Pilgrim Cottage, wrote lots of them. They rescued their hero from the work-bench or the dole queue by means of a ticket to upper-class privilege in Venice or love in the Tyrol, but they brought him safely back to home cooking and a childhood ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... trade of archer. In January 1960 Evelyn Waugh declared that he and Betjeman, along with Elizabeth Bowen and L.P. Hartley, had lost their edge as writers. In these often maudlin years, Betjeman’s openness is a great asset to his biographer just as it was a considerable source of material to the poet. The flyleaf of the Collected Poems ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... in which Minton was far from being the only considerable talent drinking itself to death. The ‘Roberts’ (Colquhoun and MacBryde) were there beside him; Dylan Thomas was boozing in the same pubs. Art is not made in that spirit any more. The notion that all things are a gamble, that candles should be burnt at both ends, that poverty is often art’s ...

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