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4 September 1980
Queen Anne 
by Edward Gregg.
Routledge, 483 pp., £17.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0400 1
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... a negligible force in government and politics, and was certainly not a cipher, even if at times she felt she had been reduced to one. This present state of the question has been well summarised by GeoffreyHolmes. In his British Politics in the Age of Anne, a work which has changed much in the landscape of 18th-century politics, and has contributed greatly to the process of reappraisal of the Queen’s ...
5 May 1983
Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815 
by Ian Christie.
Arnold, 359 pp., £17.50, June 1982, 0 7131 6157 4
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Augustan England: Professions, State and Society 1680-1730 
by Geoffrey Holmes.
Allen and Unwin, 323 pp., £18.50, November 1982, 0 04 942178 6
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... impact of hostilities on society. Nor should it enable the military and diplomatic historian to treat his subject in vacuo. It is the great strength of both Ian Christie’s Wars and Revolutions and GeoffreyHolmes’s discussion of the Augustan professions that they each, in their different ways, avoid any such insularity of approach. Christie’s book is a sophisticated, wide-ranging and lucidly ...

Powered by Fear

Linda Colley: Putting the navy in its place

3 February 2005
The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
Allen Lane, 907 pp., £30, September 2004, 0 7139 9411 8
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... made possible by parliamentary supremacy and increased political stability. Throughout the 18th century, the Admiralty was Britain’s highest-spending government department. It helped too, as GeoffreyHolmes noted long ago, that something approaching a non-partisan civil service emerged in this period. Even the parliamentary and republican regimes of the 1640s and 1650s left the lower ranks of the ...

Break their teeth, O God

Colin Kidd: The Trial of Sacheverell

20 August 2014
Faction Displayed: Reconsidering the Impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Mark Knights.
Wiley-Blackwell, 132 pp., £19.99, February 2012, 978 1 4443 6187 2
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The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Brian Cowan.
Wiley-Blackwell, 307 pp., £22.99, November 2012, 978 1 4443 3223 0
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... that his maternal grandfather was a regicide who had signed Charles I’s death warrant. In The Trial of Dr Sacheverell (1973), which remains the standard account of the cleric’s career, the late GeoffreyHolmes wondered if Sacheverell’s soaring high churchmanship ‘contains in its very extremity more than a hint of revulsion from his own tainted stock’. This twistedness was not so apparent in ...

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes

16 October 1980
The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics 
by P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 312 pp., £16.50, June 1980, 0 19 812095 8
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Shelley and his World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 9780500130681
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... View of Reform’, which was suppressed for a hundred years: ‘Poets and Philosophers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. Dawson suggests an intriguing new source: Godwin’s Life of Geoffrey Chaucer (1804), in which he speaks of the poet as ‘the legislator of generations and the moral instructor of the world’. The Shelleyan legislator is not, in fact, necessarily a poet: he is the ...


Theo Tait: Beyond the Barnes persona

1 September 2005
Arthur & George 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 360 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 0 224 07703 1
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... manifestation of this is the unmistakable Barnes narrator, wheeling out a curious fact or historical anecdote, and treating us every few lines to a wry aperçu or humorous sally or teasing aphorism. Geoffrey Braithwaite in Flaubert’s Parrot (1984) is the most famous example, but the voice that gives the lecture about Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa in A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989) is ...

Schumpeter the Superior

Geoffrey​ Hawthorn

27 February 1992
Joseph Schumpeter: His Life and Work 
by Richard Swedberg.
Polity, 293 pp., £35, November 1991, 0 7456 0792 6
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Joseph Schumpeter: Scholar, Teacher and Politician 
by Eduard März.
Yale, 204 pp., £22.50, November 1991, 0 300 03876 3
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... Schumpeter’s politics. These illuminate his vision. Yet they can seem contradictory. ‘For all his tone of objectivity,’ Samuelson remarked, ‘Schumpeter was a reactionary’ – ‘but as Holmes said of Spengler, he is the kind of rascal who gives you a run for your money.’ This is the view of the generation that Schumpeter taught at Harvard, the view of those who took popular democracy ...
6 March 1986
Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... failed to mention the name of a single Annales historian. Since then, and despite the achievements of Hobsbawm, Hilton, Hill, Keith Thomas and E.P. Thompson, it has still been possible for Geoffrey Barraclough in Main Trends in History to surmise that ‘if a consensus were taken today it would almost certainly show that the majority of professional historians is sceptical of, if not positively ...

By All Possible Art

Tobias Gregory: George Herbert

18 December 2014
Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert 
by John Drury.
Penguin, 396 pp., £9.99, April 2014, 978 0 14 104340 1
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... the rich, the glorious and the witty conversationalists will all be going to hell. That’ll answer them. Herbert has influenced poets from Henry Vaughan and Richard Crashaw to Dylan Thomas and Geoffrey Hill. And not only poets; reading Herbert has made converts, even in modern times. While reciting ‘Love (III)’, the famous last poem in The Temple, Simone Weil felt that ‘Christ himself ...
21 January 1982
War Diary 1913-1917: Chronicle of Youth 
by Vera Brittain, edited by Alan Bishop.
Gollancz, 382 pp., £8.50, September 1981, 0 575 02888 2
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The English Poets of the First World War 
by John Lehmann.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 0 500 01256 3
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Voices from the Great War 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 224 01915 5
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The Little Field-Marshal: Sir John French 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 427 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 224 01575 3
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... terms. Meanwhile, the memory of Leighton ruled her life: he became for her the paragon of Britain’s youth, and a tragic precursor for the other three young officers she loved – Victor Richardson, Geoffrey Thurlow and her younger brother, Edward, all killed in action. When one reads Brittain’s diary, it is hard not to resent the way Leighton cut across the natural line of her development. In the ...
6 August 1992
The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... challenges the portrait of Wordsworth as counter-revolutionary which began to take shape around 1950, to be gradually developed by some of the leading Romanticists. For M.H. Abrams, Northrop Frye and Geoffrey Hartman, the date 1798 retains all its charm because it signifies not an echo of 1789 so much as a correction of it – the true spiritual revolution after the false, material and murderous ...
19 July 1984
... Sun. (At least this was Rowland’s version of what was happening – Murdoch has denied it.) Robert Maxwell is trying to buy a 10 per cent share in Fleet Holdings from the, Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court for £15.4 million, while another bidder – it’s not clear whether or not he is a rival to Maxwell – is an Egyptian financier: Dr Ashrat Marwan, son-in-law of the late President Nasser ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World

2 November 2006
Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... foreign policy by summoning leading novelists and poets to Whitehall; it is even harder to believe that any such crew would include both A.S. Byatt and Jilly Cooper or place Jeffrey Archer alongside Geoffrey Hill. How, if at all, are these two vignettes from the literary life of the period to be connected? Should we be wondering about the ways commercial changes in the world of publishing affected the ...

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