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One of the Cracked

Dinah Birch: Barbara Bodichon

1 October 1998
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel 
by Pam Hirsch.
Chatto, 390 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 7011 6797 1
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... husband. A conventional wife’s existence clearly would not do. On the other hand, lifelong celibacy was not tempting. Her mother’s example provided a bleak warning of the hazards of licence. John Chapman, publisher and sexual opportunist, tried very hard to persuade her to give herself (and her money) to him, arguing that she ‘would be able without fear and undue anxiety and without the knowledge ...

Pleased to Be Loony

Alice Spawls: The Janeites

8 November 2012
Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures 
by Claudia Johnson.
Chicago, 224 pp., £22.50, June 2012, 978 0 226 40203 1
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... between ‘the dead and the living’. This is not as mad as it seems. From the start readers indulged in strange fantasies to sustain the impression of intimacy with Austen that the novels create. George Saintsbury, who coined the term ‘Janeite’ in 1894, made a point of his readiness ‘to live with and to marry’ Elizabeth Bennet and serve as ‘a knight (or at least a squire) of the order of ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis

4 April 2002
Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... and the sight was revolting in the extreme. Nearly all the jurors were afflicted with vomiting or fainting. The inquest on Charles Bravo in 1876 lasted a month and provided his parents’ solicitor, George Lewis, with the national celebrity which made him the upper classes’ favourite, and most expensive, legal confidant. In 1865, Sir James Willes wept as he sentenced Constance Kent to death for ...
4 June 1981
Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu 
by John Felstiner.
Stanford, 284 pp., $18.50, December 1980, 0 8047 1079 1
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The Oxford Book of Verse in English Translation 
edited by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 608 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 214103 1
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... said this, I have to declare that it is this very scrupulousness which makes Felstiner’s achievement at best a minor or compromised one. It seems that the idea for this book came from a passage in George Steiner’s study of language and translation, After Babel – itself an intellectual adventure in the grand old conquistadorial manner. Steiner deplored the fact that, whereas a good many literary ...

At Camden Arts Centre

Marina Warner: Kara Walker

5 December 2013
... acts of genital cruelty and class tyranny remembered by witnesses to the abuse of slaves and told to abolitionists. The results are as disturbing as anything in Goya’s Disasters of War or the Chapman Brothers’ defacings of Goya. Since her earliest works, such as The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven (1995), Walker has shown astonishing fluidity in the ...
24 January 1985
Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence 
edited by Warren Kimball.
Princeton, 674 pp., £125, October 1984, 0 691 05649 8
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... distorting it into a morality tale of the Cold War. Scholars may talk as they please, constructing complex patterns of interpretation for a minority audience: the popular ground has been won by the Chapman Pincher school of history, with its attendant band of novelists, journalists and politicians. The message they bear is a simple one: that the war against Hitler was merely a side-show in the truly ...
25 January 1990
Henry Adams 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 504 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 9780674387355
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The Letters of Henry Adams: Vols I-VI 
edited by J.C Levenson, Ernest Samuels, Charles Vandersee and Viola Hopkins-Winner.
Harvard, 2016 pp., £100.75, July 1990, 0 674 52685 6
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... a measured intimacy. His phobia or ‘humour’ can be diagnosed as an aggravated case of a prejudice shared in varying degrees by other ‘improvised Europeans’ like Henry James, Edith Wharton, George Santayana, T.S. Eliot and Pound. His interpreters haven’t ignored or condoned his obsession, but neither have they explored its possible bearing on other aspects of his thought and personality. He ...
13 October 1988
A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... Sobers does not conceal his contempt for these tactics, to which he would never have resorted. The captaincy was one of the most widely discussed public questions of the late Fifties. It is true that George Headley had been appointed to lead in two matches against England as far back as 1947 (he was unfit to play in the second of them), but no black player had thenceforth been entrusted with this ...
12 October 1989
The Intelligence Game: Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage 
by James Rusbridger.
Bodley Head, 320 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 370 31242 2
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The Truth about Hollis 
by W.J. West.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7156 2286 2
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... monitored’. The plan was called Operation Gold. There was really nothing wrong with it, except that the secretary of the committee which planned it was the British MI6 officer and Russian spy, George Blake, who passed details of the entire operation to the Russians two years before the tunnel was completed. Here, too, is the story of MI6’s courageous decision to order Commander Lionel Crabb to ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster

18 March 2004
... dead files, so much apparently worthless paper to catalogue. It was easier to stick in one’s thumb, pull out a plum, and throw the rest away. Plum-picking explains why Dickens’s dealings with Chapman and Hall and Bradbury and Evans have survived, while the bulk of their papers have disappeared (some B&E materials washed up in the Punch archive; those of C&H were, apparently, thrown out when the ...

Such a Husband

John Bayley

4 September 1997
Selected Letters of George​ Meredith 
edited by Mohammad Shaheen.
Macmillan, 312 pp., £47.50, April 1997, 0 333 56349 2
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... and public, but the bubble eventually burst. Had there ever been anything in his coruscating characters and their sprightly utterance? Even old loyalties turned a bit sceptical. In her Memories of George Meredith one of his fans, Lady Butcher, recalled how he had thrilled her with his first inspiration for One of Our Conquerors, as they walked together on Box Hill. As I listened to his wonderful ...
17 February 1983
From Author to Reader: A Social Study of Books 
by Peter Mann.
Routledge, 189 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 7100 9089 7
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David Copperfield 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 781 pp., £40, March 1981, 0 19 812492 9
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Martin Chuzzlewit 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Margaret Cardwell.
Oxford, 923 pp., £45, December 1982, 0 19 812488 0
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Books and their Readers in 18th-Century England 
edited by Isabel Rivers.
Leicester University Press, 267 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7185 1189 1
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Mumby’s Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century 
by Ian Norrie.
Bell and Hyman, 253 pp., £12.95, October 1982, 0 7135 1341 1
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Reading Relations 
by Bernard Sharratt.
Harvester, 350 pp., £18.95, February 1982, 0 7108 0059 2
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... the first serialised-in-monthly-numbers issue, put out by Bradbury and Evans in 1849-50; volume versions prepared for the European and American markets; and three single-volume reprints, published by Chapman and Hall, and allegedly ‘carefully revised’ by Dickens. In her copious and lucid introduction to the Clarendon edition (which had not appeared when Gaskell set out the problems) Nina Burgis gives ...


R.W. Johnson

4 June 1987
Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman​ Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... of the existence of MI5 and MI6 and of their directors’ identity – and even the Soviet state tells its citizens that the KGB exists and who the head of it is. It is on this crazy situation that Chapman Pincher has built his entire career. Since he is extremely right-wing, and willing to swallow even the most ridiculous claptrap in the furtherance of the Anti-Communist Cause, Pincher at least has ...

Bring some Madeira

Thomas Keymer: Thomas Love Peacock

8 February 2018
Nightmare Abbey 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Nicholas A. Joukovsky.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £84.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03186 9
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Crotchet Castle 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Freya Johnston and Matthew Bevis.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £79.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03072 5
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... the sinecure-seeking poet of Mainchance Villa; Sir Simon Steeltrap, scourge of poachers on his hunting estate at Spring-gun and Treadmill. Some of the names indicate real-life targets such as George Canning, the Tory statesman who started out as the attack dog of the Anti-Jacobin, and Wordsworth, whose acceptance of a government post as Distributor of Stamps for Westmorland in 1813 confirmed his ...

Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley

10 October 1991
Smear! Wilson and the Secret State 
by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay.
Fourth Estate, 502 pp., £20, August 1991, 9781872180687
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... of such journalists is worth a book of its own. Auberon Waugh’s involvement, in Private Eye and the Spectator, can be explained in terms of his mischievous iconoclasm. But what are we to make of Chapman Pincher, who does not seem to mind the fact that the secret state regarded him as ‘a contact who could be used to plant leaks’. Did Mr Pincher never think of asking himself why the secret state ...

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