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How do you see Susan?

Mary Beard: No Asp for Zenobia, 20 March 2003

Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth 
by Michel Chauveau, translated by David Lorton.
Cornell, 104 pp., £14.95, April 2002, 0 8014 3867 5
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The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations 
by Maria Wyke.
Oxford, 452 pp., £40, March 2002, 9780198150756
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... of conquest. Anyone who could not appear in person could always be conjured in paint or plaster, wood or wax. Julius Caesar, in his triumph of 46 BC, had treated the gawping crowds to a series of pictures of the last moments of his rivals in civil war: Cato disembowelling himself ‘like a wild beast’, Scipio throwing himself into the sea, Petreius ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... but all its numbered pages are intact. The paper is machine made, of linen and cotton fibres, not wood pulp, and has blue guidelines to write on; the pen that touched this paper was a goose quill, and the pigment was acidic iron-gall ink, which leaves faint mirror-writing on the facing page, fluorescing traces like a ghost of the text. The handwriting is ...

The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... London merchant family, she was sent away as a child to a wealthy and charitable spinster, Ellen Marryat, the sister of the famous novelist. Miss Marryat’s strongly Evangelical household not only imparted a strenuous sense of calling, but also a rigorous education When as a 16-year-old Annie returned home, it was with strong Anglo-Catholic ...


Katha Pollitt, 21 March 1996

Barren in the Promised Land: Childless Americans and the Pursuit of Happiness 
by Elaine Tyler May.
Basic Books, 318 pp., $24, June 1995, 0 465 00609 4
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Mothers in Law: Feminist Theory and the Legal Regulation of Motherhood 
edited by Martha Albertson Fineman and Isabel Karpin.
Columbia, 398 pp., £12.95, June 1995, 9780231096812
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What about Us? An Open Letter to the Mothers Feminism Forgot 
by Maureen Freely.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £15.99, October 1995, 0 7475 2304 5
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Kidding Ourselves: Breadwinning, Babies and Bargaining Power 
by Rhona Mahony.
Basic Books, 277 pp., $23, June 1995, 0 465 08594 6
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... articles and ads touting the childless – make that ‘childfree’ – life. Today, books like Ellen Peck’s The Baby Trap (1971) seem as dated as bell-bottoms and go-go boots (‘a Minnesota lawyer I know, married for ten years with no children, “dates” his wife; they live together in a fun-fun lifestyle that is close to that typified in Playboy ...

I can bite anything I want

Matthew Bevis: Lewis Carroll, 16 July 2015

Lewis Carroll 
by Morton Cohen.
Macmillan, reissue, 577 pp., £30, April 2015, 978 1 4472 8613 4
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The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll 
edited by Morton Cohen.
Palgrave, reissue, 302 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 137 50546 0
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Lewis Carroll: The Man and His Circle 
by Edward Wakeling.
Tauris, 400 pp., £35, November 2014, 978 1 78076 820 5
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... he stood,         The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,         And burbled as it came! So the Jabberwock finds him – and not when he’s actively seeking it. Maybe his thought breathed life into the creature; the boy needed a demon to conquer so he helped to invent one. This possibility sheds light ...

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 November 1982

Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... the worse of him for it: ‘So much perfection,’ she said, ‘argues rottenness somewhere.’ Ellen Wilkinson was more amusing: ‘The trouble with Oswald Mosley is that he is too good-looking ... He is not the kind of hero who rescues the girl at the point of torture but the one who hisses “at last we meet.”’ In the general election at the end of ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... recorded it): ‘The best-dressed woman in New York.’ This is not the sort of ambition James Wood had in mind when he recently suggested in the LRB (4 January) that we owe half of English literature to the aspirant mother. Of course, those sensitive and ambitious women are usually the mothers of lower-class males; and in Wharton’s case, as in that of ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me, 18 December 2003

... no CD player at my mother’s: she’s still got – believe it or not – the same wacky fake-wood-grained cabinet-style phonograph we had in the Buena Vista apartments in the 1960s. It has spindly metal legs and space-age styling and looks like something the Eameses might have designed on a not-so-good day. Granted, I can get all weepy and nostalgic just ...

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