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Whapper

Norman Page, 8 January 1987

Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton 
by Flora Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 410 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78895 7
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Loving Emma 
by Nigel Foxell.
Harvester, 201 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7108 1056 3
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... that the problem with Emma Hamilton is knowing quite how to take her. Near the end of her book, Flora Fraser quotes a startlingly vivid account of Emma’s behaviour just after receiving news of Nelson’s death: it was, an eye-witness concluded, ‘a very serio-comic performance’. Is Emma’s story a tragedy or a comedy? Certainly it begins ...

Boys will be soldiers

Brian Harrison, 20 October 1983

Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... forgetting what it is like to be a child, though the occasional exceptions – Dickens, Orwell and Flora Thompson – sketch in the outline of this vast unexplored continent. Perhaps this is one reason why historians have so rarely written about childhood. And even if they do write about it – when discussing the history of education, for example – they ...

Fire and Water

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 October 1985

Water Power in Scotland: 1550-1870 
by John Shaw.
John Donald, 606 pp., £25, April 1984, 0 85976 072 3
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The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. II: 1700-1830, The Industrial Revolution 
by Michael Flinn and David Stoker.
Oxford, 491 pp., £35, March 1984, 0 19 828283 4
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Industry and Ethos: Scotland 1832-1914 
by Sydney Checkland and Olive Checkland.
Arnold, 218 pp., £5.95, March 1984, 0 7131 6317 8
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The Jacobite Clans of the Great Glen: 1650-1784 
by Bruce Lenman.
Methuen, 246 pp., £14.95, November 1984, 0 413 48690 7
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The Prince and the Pretender: A Study in the Writing of History 
by A.J. Youngson.
Croom Helm, 270 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 7099 2908 0
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Canna: The Story of a Hebridean Island 
by J.L. Campbell.
Oxford, 323 pp., £25, December 1984, 0 19 920137 4
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... they made a brave show in resisting the loss of all but one of the American colonies. Led by Simon Fraser of Lovat, who co-operated with the Hanoverian government and so regained his father’s lands, the chiefs raised and officered a disproportionately large part of the British Army, and if it was a part given to mutiny, this came from the refusal of the high ...

The heart of standing is you cannot fly

Frank Kermode: Empson and Obscurity, 22 June 2000

The Complete Poems of William Empson 
edited by John Haffenden.
Allen Lane, 410 pp., £30, April 2000, 0 7139 9287 5
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... slightly sardonic timbre’, which seems a fair description of his everyday tones, and so is G.S. Fraser’s – ‘an odd, sad, snarly voice’. Of his poetry reading John Wain said he rendered some passages ‘like a Neapolitan stevedore, laryngitically croaking others’. In private sitting-rooms he used a quieter tone, ‘though the curious angularity of ...

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