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Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... zebu bulls and eagle owls. But witches still seem unconvincing in a modern novel, especially when Geoffrey Household invests them with a kind of spiritual authority that goes with Blake, art and ‘the unity of life’. I’m glad, however, that the main concern of these writers isn’t with the supernatural itself so much as with naturalising or ...

Bernie’s War

Philip Purser, 23 May 1991

A German Requiem 
by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 306 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 670 83516 1
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... end of the spectrum than he is to the relatively straightforward adventure (Ian Fleming, Geoffrey Household, Jack Higgins), in which the difficulties and dangers of the mission are more important than its secrets. He still needs to send his hero into danger, he still needs an active climax, but he has also got to disentangle the intricate ...
... Geoffrey​ thought perhaps Tania should see a psychotherapist. She was having nightmares, the substance of which eluded her but the attendant feeling – tone (as she learned to call it) – was clear enough. Terror. That was in 1968, and their joint income was low. Geoffrey was studying sociology at the London School of Economics, when he wasn’t at the barricades or fomenting revolution, and Tania, who already had her degree, was working for a market research firm in a rather humble capacity ...

Dark Places

John Sutherland, 18 November 1982

Wise Virgin 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 186 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 436 57608 2
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The London Embassy 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 241 10872 1
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The frog who dared to croak 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 182 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11989 1
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Vintage Stuff 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.50, November 1982, 0 436 45810 1
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Rogue Justice 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 7181 2178 3
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... that line seems to me one of his strongest. One of the thrillers burlesqued in Vintage Stuff is Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male. Sharpe, not unnaturally, looks on that bestseller of four decades ago with the same nostalgia with which Orwell regarded Raffles. But Household’s productive longevity is one of the ...

Wallahs and Wallabies

Gilbert Phelps, 8 May 1986

12 Edmondstone Street 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 134 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3970 6
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The Shakespeare Wallah 
by Geoffrey Kendal and Clare Colvin.
Sidgwick, 186 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 283 99230 1
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Children of the Country: Coast to Coast across Africa 
by Joseph Hone.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 241 11742 9
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... Jardinière – whose names make up a daily litany. A complex history comes down to us, through household jokes and anecdotes, odd habits, irrational superstitions.’ Malouf re-explores every corner, practically every inch, of this topography: the back yard where his grandfather, the Lebanese Maronite Christian immigrant, tries to turn ‘a bit of suburban ...

Interpretation of Dreams

Harold James, 5 February 1981

Cosima Wagner’s Diaries. Vol. II: 1878-1883 
edited by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Collions, 1200 pp., £20, January 1981, 0 00 216189 3
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... of Wagner; the edition is now complete in English, in a magnificent and accurate translation by Geoffrey Skelton, and is accompanied by the splendidly detailed notes of the German edition by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack, with additions by the translator. The second volume covers the period 1878 to the day before Wagner’s death in February 1883 ...

Ruling Imbecilities

Andrew Roberts, 7 November 1991

The Enemy’s Country: Words, Contexture and Other Circumstances of Language 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Oxford, 153 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 19 811216 5
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... On 11 November 1990 Geoffrey Hill published a Remembrance Day poem entitled ‘Carnival’, in the Sunday Correspondent. The occasion, and the appearance in a national newspaper, suggested the sort of work that a poet laureate might be expected to produce, although Hill’s acerbic satire on contemporary Britain was most unlike the arch public lyrics that Ted Hughes has published since his elevation to that role ...

Listen to the women

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1993

An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution 
by Partha Dasgupta.
Oxford, 661 pp., £35, July 1993, 0 19 828756 9
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... local. And if part of the task is to alter the allocations of effort and reward within the household, and if a liberal state can’t interfere in these allocations directly, it has to listen to those, above all to the women, who might be able to do so. How this is all to be achieved isn’t Dasgupta’s concern. Financially, he suggests at the end of ...

Social Stations

Susannah Clapp, 1 October 1981

Edwardian Childhoods 
by Thea Thompson.
Routledge, 232 pp., £9.75, February 1981, 0 7100 0676 4
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... mother who was ‘a beautiful washer’ and who stitched ‘HRH’ on Princess Mary’s stockings. Geoffrey Brady, who read Wells and loved bicycling, remembers the collapse of his father’s business, which led to his leaving school at 14 – ‘off to Manchester in a hard bowler hat and a little grey suit’. From Esther Stokes there are memories of jigging ...

The Laying on of Hands

Alan Bennett, 7 June 2001

... had been a social creature. This wasn’t altogether true and this numinous gathering studded with household names was less a manifestation of his friendships than an advertisement for his discretion. It was true that many of those present knew each other and virtually all of them knew Clive. But that the others knew Clive not all of them knew and only woke up ...

Why we have them I can’t think

Rosemary Hill: ‘Mrs Woolf and the Servants’, 16 August 2007

Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service 
by Alison Light.
Fig Tree, 376 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 0 670 86717 2
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... of architecture. The Stephens’ home at 22 Hyde Park Gate had a staff of seven to look after a household of 11. It was a tall terraced house which the family extended yet further upwards, and if the front wall had been removed the interior would have revealed, like a slightly sinister dolls’ house, a stratified model of late Victorian society. In the ...

The Glorious Free Market

Michael Kulikowski: The Ancient Free Market, 16 June 2016

Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens 
by Peter Acton.
Oxford, 384 pp., £51, December 2014, 978 0 19 933593 0
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... their hands was part of everyday life for most Athenians, most of the time. The women of every household, even the wealthy, spun wool, wove fabric and made clothing all year round. Much simple woodworking was also done at home, though certain types of furniture manufacture were probably done by workshops of specialised craftsmen. Most interesting are ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... to remember her mother, and it is likely that she was brought up within her father’s princely household, then after his execution lived with her cousins, the many daughters of Edward IV. After Richard III seized the throne, he sent Margaret to Yorkshire with her brother. The two children were of use to him; their maternal family, the Nevilles, commanded ...

Anti-Magician

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Max Weber, 27 August 2009

Max Weber: A Biography 
by Joachim Radkau, translated by Patrick Camiller.
Polity, 683 pp., £25, January 2009, 978 0 7456 4147 8
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... note proposing marriage to Marianne, who was a second cousin and had been living in the Weber household. He will have been aware that he was intolerant and bad tempered. And he was a pessimist. ‘As far as the dream of peace and human happiness is concerned,’ he said in 1895 in a politically charged lecture at Freiburg, ‘the words written over the ...

It took a Scot

Colin Kidd: English Nationalism, 30 July 2015

The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century 
by George Molyneaux.
Oxford, 302 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 0 19 871791 1
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The English and Their History 
by Robert Tombs.
Allen Lane, 1012 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 103165 1
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Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066-1485 
by John Gillingham.
Vintage, 345 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956324 2
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From Restoration to Reform: The British Isles 1660-1832 
by Jonathan Clark.
Vintage, 364 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956323 5
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Britain since 1900: A Success Story? 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Vintage, 472 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 957239 8
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... indirection of their own. Medieval England’s most influential myth of national origins – Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (c.1136), which Tombs describes as a ‘common Anglo-British epic’ – was a post-Conquest treatment of an earlier phase of creolisation which celebrated the Celtic Britons as the forerunners of the ...

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