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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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... The Green Child). The Sending is learned about shamans and the faculties of animals such as polecats, zebu bulls and eagle owls. But witches still seem unconvincing in a modern novel, especially when GeoffreyHousehold 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 ...

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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... of centre: as his choice of a private-eye hero makes clear, he is nearer to the acrostic or detective-story end of the spectrum than he is to the relatively straightforward adventure (Ian Fleming, GeoffreyHousehold, 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 ...

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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... Blue), he now proceeds to the public school. I’m hopeful that his next work will be a Wilt III: that line seems to me one of his strongest. One of the thrillers burlesqued in Vintage Stuff is GeoffreyHousehold’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 ...
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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... open or closed, the salient features – not Capes and Bays in this case but the Side Door, the Brass 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 ...
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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... was published in Germany a few years ago, and became instantly a central work for an understanding 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 ...

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 ...

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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... policies which affect them. Dasgupta makes much of this. Information about local resources is necessarily 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 ...

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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... and second-hand shoes, of guiding her father’s hand to sign a letter asking for work, of a 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 ...
7 June 2001
... looking at the congregation and its celebrity assortment could be forgiven for thinking that Clive 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 ...

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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... unwritten and unregarded one. It is also, her book reveals incidentally, a minor theme in the history 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 ...

The Glorious Free Market

Michael Kulikowski: The Ancient Free Market

15 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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... result from his comprehensive approach. Perhaps the most basic is the extent to which working with 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 ...

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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... child; this last baby, like Isabel’s first child, did not live. Margaret would have been too young 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 ...

‘Kek kek! kokkow! quek quek!’

Barbara Newman: Chaucer’s Voices

19 November 2019
Chaucer: A European Life 
by Marion Turner.
Princeton, 599 pp., £30, April, 978 0 691 16009 2
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... premodern poet: 493 of them, meticulously compiled by Martin Crow and Clair Olson in Chaucer Life Records (1966). What they record is the career of a competent civil servant. A member of the king’s household and lifelong retainer of John of Gaunt, Chaucer served as a diplomat, controller of the wool custom, clerk of the king’s works, deputy forester, justice of the peace for Kent and Member of ...

Who gets the dacha?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Marshal Zhukov

24 January 2013
Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov 
by Geoffrey​ Roberts.
Icon, 375 pp., £25, August 2012, 978 1 84831 442 9
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... and was earning good money as a furrier. ‘A photograph of him and his fellow furriers dating from this time shows affluent, smartly dressed young urbanites seemingly confident of their future,’ Geoffrey Roberts tells us, speculating that, but for the war and then the Revolution, Zhukov would have ended up as a solid member of the bourgeoisie, a furrier with his own business. The war set him on a ...

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