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Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp, 1 May 1980

A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... Flora Thompson was born in 1876 in the hamlet of Juniper Hill in Oxfordshire, the daughter of a nursemaid and a stonemason. At the village school she was good at skipping and scripture. She was expected to go into service like most of her schoolfriends, but she was bad at sewing and ineffective with babies; when she was 14 she became a post-office clerk in a nearby village ...

On the Surrey/Hampshire Border

Gavin Ewart, 1 May 1980

... architecture that calls as strongly as does sex? Meanwhile, in Grayshott Post Office, sat Flora Thompson – with enough literature to win New Statesman comps ...

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 ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson, 19 February 2015

Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... An outsider​ by birth as well as by disposition, Flora Thompson took solitary pleasure in observing her fellow villagers. She stored away characters and scenes from an early age – the naughty children who pulled her hair, Queenie who spoke to bees, the annual pig killing, May Day, the harvest – but published nothing until she was in her thirties, and nothing on her childhood until her early sixties ...

Royal Mysteries

V.G. Kiernan, 10 January 1983

From Agadir to Armageddon: Anatomy of a Crisis 
by Geoffrey Barraclough.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780297781745
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... may be dismissed in Chapter Four too summarily. Old-age pensions transformed life for the old, Flora Thompson remembered in Lark Rise; and they must have been a blessing also to a great many younger families with old folk to support. But what matters is that Europe’s ruling classes – like all outdated social groups, far removed from ordinary life ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine, 16 August 1990

Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... monarchy comparable in scholarly stature to Denis Mack Smith on the Kings of Italy. Dorothy Thompson’s study of Queen Victoria is thus the more to be welcomed, for she is a writer in a very different tradition from such conventional courtly biographers as Elizabeth Longford, Cecil Woodham-Smith and Georgina Battiscombe. She lectures in history at ...

Imperial Project

Richard Drayton, 19 September 1996

Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens 
by Ray Desmond.
Harvill/Royal Botanical Gardens, 466 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 86046 076 3
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... which many political persuasions – from Clarendon, Hume and Macaulay to A.J.P. Taylor and E. P. Thompson – have helped an emerging nation make sense of itself. There are now good reasons, as Linda Colley and Chris Bayly have suggested, to bring the Empire to the centre of domestic history and to show how a wider world changed our experience of ...

The Stream in the Sky

John Barrell: Thomas Telford, 22 March 2018

Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain 
by Julian Glover.
Bloomsbury, 403 pp., £10.99, January 2018, 978 1 4088 3748 1
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... is impossible to believe that to make it visible again would have any very adverse effect on the flora of the glen. To open a narrow passage from the refuge, across the plunge-pool to the waterfall and bridge, would require nothing more than lopping a few branches, felling a handful of scrawny trees and ensuring, year by year, that new branches and saplings ...

The Matter of India

John Bayley, 19 March 1987

... very well the significance of the Indian mythology of sex: potent long ago in the novels of Flora Annie Steel, with their wicked Indian cult leaders demanding blood sacrifices of young white women; later refined in the central image of A Passage to India, which has fascinated so many readers and novelists alike. (Forster’s variation is to fall in love ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... were in, was supposed to follow his family down the stairs. The minicab driver’s disabled wife, Flora, was carried down the entire 23 flights on the back of her son, Farhad, a recent graduate in mechanical engineering who had martial arts training. Both he and his mother survived. Sepideh and her son, Karen Aboud and her sons, Hamid the fish-seller, Mr ...

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