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A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 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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... themselves: in a sense, they became themselves. A process especially important for women writers. Emily Brontë was in her own way a self-dramatiser, Charlotte a self-esteemer. Her example was easier to follow, much more influential. When Aurora Leigh was published in 1857, reviewers pointed out a striking resemblance to much in the plot of Jane Eyre. Romney ...

Left with a Can Opener

Thomas Jones: Homer in Bijelo Polje, 7 October 2021

Hearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 320 pp., £28.95, April, 978 0 525 52094 8
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... is another such moment). But it also points to a shortcoming in the Parry-Lord hypothesis. As Emily Wilson put it in 2018, ‘there is still a very wide range of opinion about how, exactly, the words of many generations of illiterate and semi-literate bards turned into the written texts of Homer that we have.’Kutuzov didn’t accompany Parry on his ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... Naomi Ginsberg) soon after his birth, the infant Ferlinghetti was given into the care of his aunt Emily, a French citizen, who took him back to Strasbourg, where they lived for five years. French was Ferlinghetti’s first language, and France was the culture to which, in later years, he aspired. On their return to the US, ...

Deity with Fairy Wings

Emily Witt: Girlhood, 8 September 2016

The Girls 
by Emma Cline.
Chatto, 355 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 78474 044 3
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... centre Russell instead of Charles. The cult’s celebrity patron is called Mitch instead of Dennis Wilson, and the group lives rent-free on a ranch where they help raise llamas instead of renting out horses, as the Manson family did at Spahn Ranch. Cline also removes all reference to Helter Skelter – Manson’s delusional plan to incite a race war in ...

Properly Disposed

Emily Witt: ‘Moby-Duck’, 30 August 2012

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea 
by Donovan Hohn.
Union, 402 pp., £8.99, September 2012, 978 1 908526 02 1
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... of Teddy, the Book of Leopold, the Book of Carson, the Book of Hardin, the Books of Brower, Berry, Wilson, Dillard, Lopez, McKibben, Pollan).’ Americans have ‘come to equate beautification with salvation’. We believe in the importance of picking up a stray beer can on a beach. Instead of questioning the notion of disposable packaging, we insist on its ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... There never was such a Woman!!!’ Emily Cowper (later Palmerston) wrote of her sister-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb. Lady Cowper was not being complimentary. She later described Caroline as being ‘more termagant than ever’. Such disparagement of the woman, who in 1812 had a notorious affair with Byron and was married to a future prime minister, was not confined to the Lamb family ...

Good as boys

Penelope Fitzgerald, 15 August 1991

The Best Type of Girl: A History of the Girls’ Independent Schools 
by Gillian Avery.
Deutsch, 410 pp., £20, January 1991, 0 233 98642 1
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There’s something about a convent girl 
edited by Jackie Bennett and Rosemary Forgan.
Virago, 217 pp., £4.99, January 1991, 1 85381 308 7
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... of poor clergy, as governesses. (Something is said, though, in defence of the Reverend Carus Wilson, decimator of the Brontës, and his Cowan Bridge School.) The High Schools, with the honourable exception of Manchester, lagged behind at first, but by the 1870s and 1890s, although there were still very few women on their governing bodies, they had ...

Punk Counterpunk

Bee Wilson, 20 November 2014

Vivienne Westwood 
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
Picador, 463 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 1 4472 5412 6
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... shop Agent Provocateur), was given the surname Corré in honour of Rose. McLaren’s mother, Emily, was a prostitute. Westwood says that the ‘root of all his troubles’ was that he ‘never knew real maternal love as a child’. He displayed a pathological desire to dazzle and insult the world with his brilliance and to disparage the abilities of ...

Tricked Out as a Virgin

Bee Wilson: Respectable Enough, 4 November 2021

The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice 
by Julia Laite.
Profile, 410 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78816 442 9
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... Slaver, The Girl That Disappears and War on the White Slave Trade. The plot varied little: as J.P. Wilson wrote in The White Slave Traffic in 1912, ‘her slavery lasts some five or six years as a rule, and then she is flung out upon the streets, her character gone, her hope dead, her body diseased, to die before long either in a workhouse or a Lock ...

Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... 16 – it’s ostensibly a children’s book) who feels an affinity between herself and Emily Brontë, to the point of thinking deeply about reincarnation. Wuthering Heights has left its mark indirectly on this novel. Crusoe’s Daughter, with its heroine Polly Flint metaphorically cast away, and not cast down by it, is rather more open about its ...

How Do You Pay?

Bee Wilson: Falling for Michael Moore, 1 November 2007

Citizen Moore: An American Maverick 
by Roger Rapoport.
Methuen, 361 pp., £8.99, July 2007, 978 0 413 77649 5
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Manufacturing Dissent 
directed by Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk.
October 2007
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Sicko 
directed by Michael Moore.
October 2007
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... the evils of General Motors could be ‘billed as the feel-good film of the holiday season’, as Emily Schultz wrote in her 2005 biography of Moore. Roger and Me opened on 22 December 1989, a traditional release date for crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Other movies released that month included National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Driving Miss Daisy and The ...

Trevelogue

E.S. Turner, 25 June 1987

The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... delectable quotations. It draws not only on family documents, but on the writings of Macaulay, Emily Eden, Lady Canning, Bishop Heber, Kipling, Diana Cooper and Forster; and it comments, sometimes with disfavour, on films like Gandhi, The Far Pavilions and The Jewel in the Crown. If a book on this scale had been written by an American it would have carried ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... the marrying kind’. He kept a mistress for many years. He even visited the deplorable Harriette Wilson and was roughly treated in her memoirs. At Chatsworth as a young man he had a brief ‘romantic friendship’ with the Grand Duke Nicholas, later Emperor of All the Russias, with whom he larked about, sang songs and engaged in what Lees-Milne calls ...

Special Frocks

Jenny Turner: Justine Picardie, 5 January 2006

My Mother’s Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Our Lives 
by Justine Picardie.
Picador, 336 pp., £12.99, September 2005, 0 330 41306 6
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... Society, early in her career. ‘There is something eerie about a museum of costume,’ Elizabeth Wilson wrote in Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (1985), a study much influenced by Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger. ‘For clothes are so much part of our living, moving selves that, frozen on display in the mausoleums of culture, they hint at ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... rebel against American Puritanism, accused of believing in free love), Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson and the suffragette leader, Carrie Chapman Catt. Feminist supporter of minority rights, Eleanor Roosevelt is our contemporary. That is what worries Alan Brinkley. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Eleanor Roosevelt is the representative of social movements ...

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