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4 March 1982
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth​ Bowen 
introduced by Angus Wilson.
Cape, 782 pp., £8.50, February 1981, 0 224 01838 8
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Elizabeth​ Bowen: An Estimation 
by Hermione Lee.
Vision, 225 pp., £12.95, July 1981, 9780854783441
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... If there ever was a writer of genius, or neargenius – time will decide – who was heart-cloven and split-minded it is Elizabeth Bowen. Romantic-realist, yearning-sceptic, emotional-intellectual, poetic-pragmatist, objective-subjective, gregarious-detached (though everybody who resides in a typewriter has to be a bit of that ...

Why Darcy would not have married Elizabeth​ Bennet

Linda Colley: Women in Georgian England

3 September 1998
The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Victorian England 
by Amanda Vickery.
Yale, 436 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07531 6
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... a different matter. One of this book’s many virtues as social and not just women’s history is that it conveys some of the divisions operating within the landed class. Its prime gentry heroine, Elizabeth Parker of Alkincoats, later Elizabeth Shackleton, is shown moving among a wide array of lesser landed, trading and professional acquaintances. But, as Vickery points out, she was ‘not on visiting ...

Apartment in Leme

Elizabeth​ Bishop

26 January 2006
... 1. Off to the left, those islands, named and renamed so many times now everyone’s forgotten their names, are sleeping. Pale rods of light, the morning’s implements, lie in among them tarnishing already, just like our knives and forks. Because we live at your open mouth, oh Sea, with your cold breath blowing warm, your warm breath cold, like in the fairy tale. Not only do you tarnish our knives ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen

6 July 2000
ElizabethApprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth​ I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... commended his late sovereign for being a dull man, brains being the last thing the British constitution requires of a monarch. It was not always so. Whatever else has been said about the first Elizabeth (one recalls Sheridan’s ‘no scandal about Queen Elizabeth I hope?’) no one has ever complimented her on being dull. In sending her royal brother Edward VI her youthful likeness, soon to be ...

Don’t blame him

Jenny Wormald

4 August 1994
Elizabeth​ I 
by Wallance MacCaffrey.
Edward Arnold, 528 pp., £25, September 1993, 9780340561676
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... petticoat government, 45 of a monarch without an heir, and, more immediately, ten of the gloom and doom caused by a sterile war, economic distress and mounting fears for the future, were over. Elizabeth, the ruler who had hung on to life for too long, was dead. The reaction which she had feared, she herself having experienced it in 1558 as heir to a dying monarch, happened. Relief, rather than ...
4 August 1988
Elizabeth​ Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth​ Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... is now helpless and belongs to her. When she falls into the arms of Romney, Aurora can be at once a woman, a writer, and a person with the right progressive ideas. So could the author of the poem, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It is only fair to say, though, that this kind of wish-fulfilment is not only an accurate portrayal of the kind of selves that Charlotte and Elizabeth became, and wished to become ...

The Real Price of Everything

Hilary Mantel: The Many Lives of Elizabeth​ Marsh

21 June 2007
The Ordeal of Elizabeth​ Marsh: A Woman in World History 
by Linda Colley.
HarperPress, 363 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 00 719218 2
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... epicentre, subverting custom with the shock of the new, violently throwing together races and belief systems, sending a tremor through individual lives, wrecking certainties, reorganising identities. Elizabeth Marsh was one of those shaken by the times she lived through, her personal ‘ordeal’ intimately connected with global forces beyond the grasp of any individual then living. Conceived in Port Royal ...

Only Sleeping

Anne Barton: Variations on Elizabeth​ I

10 July 2003
England’s ElizabethAn Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy 
by Michael Dobson and Nicola J. Watson.
Oxford, 348 pp., £19.99, November 2002, 0 19 818377 1
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... write letters in an exquisite italic hand, scarcely counterbalances the accumulation of woes, or suggests that the sufferer might go on to negotiate adulthood with much success, let alone emerge as Elizabeth I – possibly the most politically adroit, intelligent and successful monarch ever to occupy the English throne. Yet, during a long reign of 44 years, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn ...

Crypto-Republican

Simon Adams: Was Mary Queen of Scots a Murderer?

11 June 2009
Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth​ I 
by Stephen Alford.
Yale, 412 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 0 300 11896 4
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... William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, served Elizabeth I for nearly forty years, as principal secretary and lord treasurer, and left an enormous body of papers. His correspondence, now dispersed in four major and a number of minor collections, dominates ...
2 October 1997
Elizabeth​ Gaskell: The Early Years 
by John Chapple.
Manchester, 492 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 7190 2550 8
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... The daughter of Samuel Holland, a prosperous Cheshire farmer and land agent, the wife of William Stevenson, a scholar and writer of some reputation, and the mother of Elizabeth Gaskell, one of the most celebrated Victorian novelists, Elizabeth Stevenson has vanished. No portrait survives, no letter or scrap of journal, no cherished family anecdotes, no remembered trace of ...

On a par with Nixon

Stephen Alford: Bad Queen Bess?

17 November 2016
Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth​ I 
by Peter Lake.
Oxford, 497 pp., £35, January 2016, 978 0 19 875399 5
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ElizabethThe Forgotten Years 
by John Guy.
Viking, 494 pp., £25, May 2016, 978 0 670 92225 3
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... the faultlines in Tudor thought about religion and politics, and speaking for a world much less settled than we might imagine. A manuscript satire from the 1590s included in the book shows Queen Elizabeth I as a puffed up hen: the only concession to Her Majesty’s dignity is the steady eye that peers out from a great ruff of feathers. More ridiculous than glamorous, Elizabeth’s pretensions are ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine

17 May 1984
The Collected Prose of Elizabeth​ Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... Elizabeth Bishop was refined. Manners interested her, as The Collected Prose makes clear. She can remember learning ‘how to behave in school’ with more recall than most people: ‘this meant to sit up ...

Out of Ottawa

John Bayley

21 November 1991
By Heart. Elizabeth​ Smart: A Life 
by Rosemary Sullivan.
Lime Tree, 415 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 413 45341 3
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... the thing for oneself: opening the book in a shop or library and becoming riveted at once. At various times since it first appeared in the war a number of people have been riveted in this way by Elizabeth Smart’s one-off nouvelle. When the manuscript was accepted in 1941 she had wanted to call it Images of Mica, but George Barker, whom it was all about, flipped the typed pages at random and found a ...
30 March 1989
Robert Browning and Elizabeth​ Barrett: The Courtship Correspondence 1845-1846 
edited by Daniel Karlin.
Oxford, 363 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 19 818547 2
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... Your letters began by being first to my intellect, before they were first to my heart,’ Elizabeth Barrett told Browning when they had been corresponding for over a year and had acknowledged their love. When she first got the fan letter from a fellow poet, six years younger and much less ...

Domineering

Ruth Bernard Yeazell

7 November 1985
The Courtship of Robert Browning and Elizabeth​ Barrett 
by Daniel Karlin.
Oxford, 281 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 19 811728 0
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... lovers who read long before they saw one another, who admired writing first and persons after. In the opening line of their correspondence, Robert Browning emphatically recorded his admiration of Elizabeth Barrett’s poetry – ‘I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett’; and though he proceeded in the same letter to append his ‘love’ for the poet as well, she figures ...

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