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Nelly gets her due

John Sutherland

8 November 1990
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 317 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 670 82787 8
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The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant 
edited by Elisabeth Jay.
Oxford, 184 pp., £16.95, October 1990, 0 19 818615 0
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... adding: ‘It’s a fatal story for our trade.’ Dickens continued to see the Ternans after the break-up of his marriage. Apparently Mrs Ternan acquiesced. Dickens gave Ellen’s older sister Frances money to study singing in Italy (Tomalin suggests this may have been intended to free Nelly from her mother’s chaperonage). Nelly’s not very wonderful career on the stage came to an end at this ...

Perpetual Sunshine

David Cannadine

2 July 1981
The Gentleman’s Country House and its Plan, 1835-1914 
by Jill Franklin.
Routledge, 279 pp., £15.95, February 1981, 0 7100 0622 5
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... in popular fiction became that magical, glamorous, enchanted moment when the hero or heroine first set eyes upon the mansion which frequently dominated the novel. An early example of this is in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Making of a Marchioness, where Emily comes upon Palstrey Manor and ‘almost wept before the loveliness of it’. More composed, but no less enamoured, was Harriet Wimsey (né ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities

25 April 2013
Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... too trivial to confide. Others are given their place in ‘the pattern of my life’. In his library a section is ‘reserved for books by or about people who have most influenced me’; the death of Frances Yates, his former tutor at the Warburg Institute, occurs ‘a few months before I was knighted’. Yet this unswerving concentration on himself has the advantage of particularity. Memoirs, especially ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas​ Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club

10 October 2019
The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... a woman, was never a member, though as Damrosch interestingly proposes, her Streatham circle constituted ‘a kind of shadow club’ where Johnson could spar at leisure with other intellectual women: Frances Burney, Elizabeth Montagu, Hannah More. Johnson had his own room at Streatham Place, and wrote most of Lives of the Poets there, reading manuscript sections aloud to those present much as Samuel ...

Starting over

Malise Ruthven

9 July 1987
Cities on a Hill 
by Frances​ FitzGerald.
Picador, 414 pp., £4.50, March 1987, 0 330 29845 3
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... The title of Frances FitzGerald’s new book comes from the sermon John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, delivered on board the Arabella shortly before landing in the New World in 1630. Fully ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather

9 January 1992
The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... Tighe, Leadbetter, Hall, Mulholland, and over a dozen other women who appear in Read. I particularly missed some of the Northern women writers such as Charlotte Elizabeth, Amanda McKittrick Ros, Frances Browne and Anne Crone, whose varieties of Unionism and feminism would have been intriguingly disruptive of the meta-narrative. Northern writing is otherwise well-represented. Tom Paulin edits a ...

The Italy of Human Beings

Frances​ Wilson: Felicia Hemans

16 November 2000
Felicia Hemans: ‘Records of Woman’ with Other Poems 
edited by Paula Feldman.
Kentucky, 248 pp., £15.50, September 1999, 0 8131 0964 7
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... Felicia – was lavishly praised in her lifetime, and second only to Byron in popularity and sales. But while Byron was disowned by the Victorians, embarrassed that this ‘huge sulky dandy’, as Thomas Carlyle called him, should have received so much adoration and respect, Felicia Hemans’s reputation grew, and her work went out of print only after the First World War. Her importance in dictating ...

Unbosoming

Peter Barham: Madness in the nineteenth century

17 August 2006
Madness at Home: The Psychiatrist, the Patient and the Family in England 1820-60 
by Akihito Suzuki.
California, 260 pp., £32.50, March 2006, 0 520 24580 6
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... not dismiss the commissions as merely providing opportunities for voyeurism, since they empowered ‘lunatics’ as much as disempowering them, providing a space in which they could speak publicly. Thomas Telford Campbell, the son of the poet Thomas Campbell, impressed the jury with the ‘urbanity, coolness and composure’ of his performance in cross-examining witnesses, and persuaded them to reject ...
8 December 1988
Notre Siècle: 1918-1988 
by René Rémond.
Fayard, 1012 pp., frs 190, February 1988, 2 213 02039 6
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Histoire de la Vie Privée: De la Première Guerre Mondiale à nos Jours 
edited by Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby.
Seuil, 634 pp., frs 375, May 1988, 2 02 008987 4
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France since the Popular Front: Government and People 1936-1986 
by Maurice Larkin.
Oxford, 435 pp., £30, July 1988, 0 19 873034 9
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Penguin, 647 pp., £6.95, June 1988, 0 14 010098 9
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... In his novels, the late Gwyn Thomas used to refer to those who frequented the pubs and cafés of small Welsh towns as ‘the voters’. It would certainly be the way to describe the adult population of France who, last spring, voted ...
7 February 1980
The Wapshot Chronicle 
by John Cheever.
Harper and Row, 549 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 06 337007 7
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Florence Avenue 
by Elizabeth North.
Gollancz, 158 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 575 02680 4
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McKay’s Bees 
by Thomas​ McMahon.
Constable, 198 pp., £4.95, November 1980, 0 09 463120 4
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The Siesta 
by Patrice Chaplin.
Duckworth, 174 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7156 1459 2
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... as it looks, or whether it is really very artful. Nothing is what Henry James would call ‘treated’: all is simply reported, in a lively one-thing-after-the-other fashion. There are echoes of Frances Trollope, echoes of Huckleberry Finn – probably quite accidental; and the whole is so alive, original and unexpected that without any particular plot, without any element of suspense, the reader is ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters

25 April 2013
The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... boy, Philip Sidney – whose works Richardson was later to publish, and to study with attention – was carefully trained in the art of letter writing. His bedroom, according to his early biographer Thomas Moffet, ‘overflowed with elegant epistles’ which he had painstakingly written. The opening letter in Roger Kuin’s superb new edition of his correspondence, addressed to the 12-year-old Philip ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns

11 December 1997
Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... fetched. What is especially refreshing is Watson’s willingness to take seriously not only those few hymnodists who have been accepted or half-accepted into the literary canon – George Herbert, Thomas Ken, Watts, Charles Wesley – but many less celebrated names, such as Sir Robert Grant, William Walsham How, William Chatterton Dix: Grant (‘O worship the King, all glorious above’), the ...

Turncoats and Opportunists

Alexandra Walsham: Francis Walsingham

5 July 2012
The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by John Cooper.
Faber, 400 pp., £9.99, July 2012, 978 0 571 21827 1
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... Londoner Anne Carleill, who died childless just two years after they married in 1564, and then in 1566 to the widow Ursula Worseley, with whom he had two children. His sole surviving daughter, Frances, married the poet and Protestant courtier Sir Philip Sidney. Cooper acknowledges the problems these gaps in the record pose to a biographer, but doesn’t shy away from sifting Walsingham’s motives ...
26 November 1987
Faustus and the Censor 
by William Empson, edited by John Henry Jones.
Blackwell, 226 pp., £17.50, September 1987, 0 631 15675 5
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... The losses are heaviest among the first wave of playmakers working in London in the late 1580s and early 1590s, the so-called ‘pre-Shakespearean’ period. Not a single play by the sonneteer Thomas Watson remains, though he was described in 1592 as one whose ‘daily practyse and living’ was writing for the theatre. Thomas Nashe certainly wrote for the public playhouses in the early 1590s ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow

1 October 1998
The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... periodical who arranges book reviews, rather than the person who edits manuscripts before publication. An odder vagueness occurs when he tells us out of the blue that Sparrow was the friend of ‘Mrs Frances Horner, a relation and friend of the Asquiths who as a widow lived at Mells’. This implies that ‘the Asquiths of Mells’ had taken her in as a lodger. In fact, Frances Graham, one of the ...

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