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11 November 1999
Flush 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Elizabeth Steele.
Blackwell, 123 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 631 17729 9
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Timbuktu 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 186 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19197 5
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... agents at witchcraft trials, burnt alongside Protestants by Mary Tudor and alongside Catholics by Elizabeth I, roasted at country fairs and persecuted for sport, cats were often given short shrift in Britain. Ancient symbols of fertility, they were commonly deemed lascivious (the female cat was especially lecherous), but feline stand-offishness was the real ...
4 February 1988
I know my own heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840 
edited by Helena Whitbread.
Virago, 370 pp., £7.95, February 1988, 0 86068 840 2
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... her own, as in everyone else’s, eyes she was a bas bleu. Like her elder sisters in Sensibility, Elizabeth Carter, or the Ladies of Llangollen, whom she greatly admired, she sought with her self-education to adhere to a ‘system’ or working timetable. Had she not read The Proper Employment of Time, Talents and Fortune by the Llangollen Ladies’ friend ...

The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire

7 May 1998
Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... tell us that on 29 May 1953, three days before the coronation of our present beleaguered Queen Elizabeth II, Edmund (later Sir Edmund) Hillary and Namgyal Wangdi, a devoutly Buddhist Sherpa, or poorly-paid professional climber, known by his spiritual title, Tenzing Norgay (‘fortunate follower of religion’), stood on the summit that Mallory and Irvine ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are

5 July 2007
... Colour brought photographs of champion roses (‘Birmingham Post’, a cross between ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and ‘Wendy Cussons’, from the National Rose Society’s Annual) and of rather dull canapés (from Good Housekeeping Colour Cookery of 1967). Nothing, it seemed, was so distant, hidden or commonplace that its appearance would be unrecorded for ...
14 September 1989
Namier 
by Linda Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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Hume 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... of the Licensing Act of 1695, and a new breed of journalists like Defoe, Bolingbroke, Addison and Steele emerged to meet the demand. What they reveal is the dogged persistence of Whig and Tory tags, a vociferous ideological debate which Hume’s History was specifically intended to mitigate and which Namier ignores. Ironically, Hume would have wished for a ...
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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... leaves her ‘exactly in the condition of Lord Hardy and Lady Charlotte in The Funeral’ (by Steele). Her rift with the theatre manager Fleetwood is glossed over with a quote from Peachum. Even in moments of trauma, her sense of theatre is uppermost. Returning home one night to find her baby daughter in convulsive fits, she snatches the girl into her ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... girls, but doesn’t follow this up by examining the remarkable letters written by Mrs Thrale, the Elizabeth Montagu set, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the Duchess of Devonshire or Lady Elizabeth Foster; the Duchess’s novel Sylph is not treated, either. In the second half of the book, ‘Literary Achievements’, we are on ...

Making a Costume Drama out of a Crisis

Jenny Diski: ‘Downton Abbey’

21 June 2012
Downton Abbey: Series One and Two 
Universal DVD, £39.99, November 2011Show More
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series One and Two 
BBC DVD, £17.99, April 2012Show More
Park Lane 
by Frances Osborne.
Virago, 336 pp., £14.99, June 2012, 978 1 84408 479 1
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Habits of the House 
by Fay Weldon.
Head of Zeus, 320 pp., £14.99, July 2012, 978 1 908800 04 6
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... of novels) is historical in much the same way that Gone with the Wind and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex are historical. It takes a familiar time, draws a horizontal line along an axis, and marks it out with peak events everyone has heard of, weighting them with their most commonplace interpretations. This is then used as a moving backdrop in ...

Too Many Pears

Thomas Keymer: Frances Burney

26 August 2015
The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney 1786-91, Vols III-IV: 1788 
edited by Lorna Clark.
Oxford, 824 pp., £225, September 2014, 978 0 19 968814 2
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... Boswell’s Life of Johnson did, or a Thackeray novel in which characters encountered Addison and Steele in taverns. Someone famous was sure to turn up on each page: Joshua Reynolds, perhaps, or Mrs Siddons, or mad King George III. The diary gave ‘fresh colours to the pale and faded portraits of past ages’, a reviewer for the Gentleman’s Magazine ...

Hard Romance

Barbara Everett

8 February 1996
... incestuous, Austen reserves the excitement of conflict for those characters erotically attracted: Elizabeth and Darcy, Emma and Knightley. But these arguments are unnecessary given a simple fact. Sense and Sensibility is not about two sisters; it is about three sisters. 19-year-old Elinor and 17-year-old Marianne have a sister, the 13-year-old ...
5 April 1990
Henry Fielding: A Life 
by Martin Battestin and Ruthe Battestin.
Routledge, 738 pp., £29.50, October 1989, 0 415 01438 7
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New Essays 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin.
Virginia, 604 pp., $50, November 1989, 0 8139 1221 0
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The Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding. The True Patriot, and Related Writings 
edited by W.B. Coley.
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An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and Related Writings 
edited by Malvin Zirker.
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The Covent-Garden Journal and A Plan of the Universal Register Office 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Bertrand Goldgar.
Oxford, 446 pp., £50, December 1988, 0 19 818511 1
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Fielding and the Woman Question: The Novels of Henry Fielding and the Feminist Debate 1700-1750 
by Angela Smallwood.
Harvester, 230 pp., £35, March 1989, 0 7108 0639 6
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... be taken seriously. In particular, the ‘control’ texts from other authors (Swift, Addison and Steele) do not include any of their mainstream political journalism (from the Examiner, Freeholder, Guardian or Englishman, for example), but of an obscure early unpublished pamphlet by Swift, supplemented even more strangely by two of the Bickerstaff ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels

19 August 1999
Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... Austen’s nephew wrote in his Memoir of his aunt. In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philips’ clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the society of ...
7 August 1980
A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... Samuel Butler complete. Pope complete, including the Iliad and the Odyssey. Addison complete. Steele complete. Swift complete. Prior, Gay and Arbuthnot. Thomson’s Seasons. For theology he went to Hooker, Tillotson, William Law and Robert South. For technical and ‘philosophic’ (i.e. scientific) expressions he went to John Ray’s Wisdom of God in the ...

Placing Leavis

Geoffrey Hartman

24 January 1985
The Leavises: Recollections and Impressions 
edited by Denys Thompson.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 521 25494 9
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The Social Mission of English Criticism: 1848-1932 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 19 812821 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Robertson, 253 pp., £16.50, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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The Critic as Anti-Philosopher: Essays and Papers by F.R. Leavis 
edited by G. Singh.
Chatto, 208 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 7011 2644 2
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... for the great English novel. Keeping up the pretence of a ‘correspondence’ between equals, Steele and Addison – and a few others like them – removed matters of taste from the heat of religious and political controversy. Art, as Schiller was to argue in his Letters on Aesthetic Education, was not simply a higher form of play that restored the ...

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