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A Useless Body

David Craig: The Highland Clearances, 18 May 2017

Set Adrift upon the World: The Sutherland Clearances 
by James Hunter.
Birlinn, 572 pp., £14.99, September 2016, 978 1 78027 354 9
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... people is unmistakable, especially when compared with other historians such as the dispassionate Eric Richards, author of A History of the Highland Clearances (1985), and J.M. Bumsted, who wrote in The People’s Clearance (1982) that Highlanders ‘largely lacked … the ability of fluent self-expression’. Hunter is careful to present the evidence ...

Country Life

David Cannadine, 5 November 1981

The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... world of the landowners. D.C. Moore describes the differences between aristocracy and gentry, and Eric Richards presents an elegant, well-evidenced survey of estate agents. Those already familiar with the work of Havinden, Beastall, Franklin and Carr on model villages, estate history, country houses and fox – hunting respectively, will find ample ...

Taking the hint

David Craig, 5 January 1989

The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... to give evidence for each splash and stroke. One excellent academic historian of the Clearances, Eric Richards, has credited Prebble with ‘a sound knowledge of important and frequently neglected sources’. He then objects to ‘leaps of the imagination – he invests elusive and obscure people with emotions, thoughts and feelings for which he ...

National Myths

Rosalind Mitchison, 20 November 1986

Domesday Economy: A New Approach to Anglo-Norman History 
by John McDonald and G.D. Snooks.
Oxford, 240 pp., £27.50, July 1986, 0 19 828524 8
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Scottish Literacy and the Scottish Identity: Illiteracy and Society in Scotland 
by R.A. Houston.
Cambridge, 352 pp., £27.50, December 1985, 0 521 26598 3
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A History of the Highland Clearances. Vol. II: Emigration, Protest, Reasons 
by Eric Richards.
Croom Helm, 543 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7099 2259 0
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... Act, which, by giving security of tenure to the Highland peasantry, prevented further Clearances. Eric Richards’s book is not so much an examination of the Highland Clearances: we now have enough information to be pretty sure of the main events, though what actually happened in Kildonan in May 1814 remains clouded. As the second part of a major study ...

Kind Words for Strathpeffer

Rosalind Mitchison, 24 May 1990

The British Isles: A History of Four Nations 
by Hugh Kearney.
Cambridge, 236 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 521 33420 9
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Cromartie: Highland Life 1650-1914 
by Eric Richards and Monica Clough.
518 pp., £29.50, August 1989, 0 08 037732 7
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Jacobitism and the English People, 1688-1788 
by Paul Kléber Monod.
Cambridge, 408 pp., £30, November 1989, 0 521 33534 5
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... Hugh Kearney has written a book to assert the reality of the British Isles as an intercommunicating group of cultures with many features in common but also with strong regional or national differences. It is a timely reminder that the political dominance of these islands by England from the 17th century covers only a small part of their various histories ...

Play hard

Dave Haslam, 20 October 1994

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-93 
by Nick Kent.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 0 14 023046 7
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... in the mid and late Seventies as a strung-out stringer, the suburban boy getting high with Keith Richards, hanging out at backstage drug binges, and – on one memorable occasion – being beaten about the body by Sid Vicious wielding a rusty bicycle chain. Kent’s most fruitful years writing for New Musical Express coincided with the descent into artistic ...


John Mullan: Eric Griffiths, 23 May 2019

If Not Critical 
by Eric Griffiths, edited by Freya Johnston.
Oxford, 248 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 880529 8
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The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry 
by Eric Griffiths.
Oxford, 351 pp., £55, July 2018, 978 0 19 882701 6
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... of (assistant, associate) ‘professor’. Until a stroke forced him to retire at the age of 57, Eric Griffiths was a lecturer in English at Cambridge. For him, literary criticism was a form of performance art and his lectures were celebrated for their verbal wit, fierce cleverness and frequent indiscretion. His habit of sipping a mysterious liquid ...

Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... and ‘the worm’s-eye view of life’ in seaside postcards. He was hardly concerned with Frank Richards as a novelist or (despite his essay’s title) the art of Donald McGill. A better reason for paying attention to humble work is to identify its virtues. At worst, this can become highbrow slumming – overpraising incompetence like an eager nursery ...

Ramadhin and Valentine

J.R. Pole, 13 October 1988

A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... and rage. Manley insists that Sobers apologised. But a reading of the letter, drafted by the late Eric Barrow (then Prime Minister of Barbados), which Sobers signed and prints in his book, shows that he did not apologise for his visit, only expressing regret at the ‘embarrassment’ it might have caused, together with an affirmation of commitment to the ...

Thee, Thou, Twixt

Mark Ford: Walter de la Mare, 24 March 2022

Reading Walter de la Mare 
edited by William Wootten.
Faber, 320 pp., £14.99, June 2021, 978 0 571 34713 1
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... by the self-evidently ‘difficult’ modernist poets of his era. In a perceptive essay from 2011, Eric Ormsby argued that if de la Mare’s poems ‘sound stilted or quaintly vague, that may be because we no longer know how to read him’. Before reading Wootten’s careful and illuminating analyses of the poems, I would probably have concurred with ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... one may object that is not so interesting or original in its wording as to be worth anthologising. Eric Partridge, who was diversely interesting and original, is not well served by a slew of 23 dedications which includes such flat entireties as these: – For F. Chesney Horwood, scholar and friend. – For Essie and Diana Browning, with affection. The ...


David Craig, 5 September 1985

... bunch above the arch of the foot, seeing it as beautiful in relation to this new purpose.’ I.A. Richards loved to climb with his wife Dorothy Pilley and both wrote eloquently about it: in a Borrowdale climbing hut the other day I found the handwritten note of what may have been their last mountain walk in England, in the same logbook as my eldest son’s ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... Think, too, of the enormous slice of the Beatles songbook covered by other acts. How many Jagger/Richards cover versions can you call up before your forehead starts to wrinkle? The only two that came unbidden to my mind are by Devo and Cat Power, who gave us wildly different takes on ‘Satisfaction’. (For the record, my own favourite Beatles covers ...

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