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Superior Persons

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1986

Travels with a Superior Person 
by Lord Curzon, edited by Peter King.
Sidgwick, 191 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 283 99294 8
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The Ladies of Castlebrae 
by A. Whigham Price.
Alan Sutton, 242 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 228 1
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Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure 
by Tony Morrison, Anne Brown and Ann Rose.
BBC, 160 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 563 20424 9
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Miss Fane in India 
by [author], edited by John Pemble.
Alan Sutton, 246 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 240 0
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Explorers Extraordinary 
by John Keay.
Murray/BBC Publications, 195 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 7195 4249 9
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A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta 1840-41 
by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Grace Thornton.
Peter Owen, 182 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 7206 0636 5
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The Irish Sketch-Book 1842 
by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Blackstaff, 368 pp., £9.95, December 1985, 0 85640 340 7
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Mr Rowlandson’s England 
by Robert Southey, edited by John Steel.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 202 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 907462 77 4
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... We travellers are in very hard circumstances,’ said Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. ‘If we tell anything new we are laughed at as fabulous.’ This mistrust of the footloose is endorsed by the trenchant definition of ‘traveller’s tale’ in Chambers’ Dictionary: ‘an astounding lie about what one professes to have seen abroad’. To be sure, this batch of 19th-century travellers’ tales features some astounding liars, but there are also some reasonably honest witnesses ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities, 11 September 2003

Searching for John Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... Ford seems to me claptrap in that it amounts to the prettification of a lie . . . Ford’s visual grace, it seems to me, needs the flush of drink in the viewer before it is sufficiently lulling to disguise the lack of intellectual integrity . . . It is sometimes claimed that Ford is a superb visual storyteller; that he unerringly places his camera and edits ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... son he was Of Solway and of Westminster – O, maker, maker, Given of all the gods to anything but grace. And kind as all the apprentices knew and scholars; A talker with battle honours till dawn whitened the curtains, With many honourers, and many many enemies, and followers. The third line here conveys what Leavis would call ‘a limiting judgment’; and ...

Swift radiant morning

D.J. Enright, 21 February 1991

The Collected Letters of Charles Hamilton Sorley 
edited by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 310 pp., £25, November 1990, 9780900821547
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Ivor Gurney: Collected Letters 
edited by R.K.R Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 579 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 85635 941 6
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... again,’ indeed, so long as that noun carries no irony but only the acknowledgment of a fall from grace. Sorley’s was the generation, the truly lost one, that might have kept the best of the old world and changed the rest of it, or some of it. Ivor Gurney’s fate was worse and also better. ‘May 1925 see us both happy and revered by the few who count and ...

A Monk’s-Eye View

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 10 March 2022

The Dissolution of the Monasteries: A New History 
by James G. Clark.
Yale, 649 pp., £25, October 2021, 978 0 300 11572 7
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Going to Church in Medieval England 
by Nicholas Orme.
Yale, 483 pp., £20, July 2021, 978 0 300 25650 5
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... to avoid a national explosion of anger. His instinct was right, as the so-called Pilgrimage of Grace proved later that year. This was the most serious challenge to the Tudor monarchy across the entire century, and was nearly fatal to Cromwell’s own career. He was already shouldering the blame for knocking all those ruins about a bit. And yet, if we ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1986, 18 December 1986

... First day of shooting a film based on the life of Joe Orton. We begin with the childhood scenes, Thornton Heath standing in for Leicester. The film is announced in Variety. The title Prick up your ears presents a problem as Variety’s cryptic style demands the film be known as Prick. But no. The headline reads: ‘Ears lenses Monday.’ Those best at saying ...

Slices of Cake

Gilberto Perez: Alfred Hitchcock, 19 August 1999

Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks: An Authorised and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock 
by Dan Auiler.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7475 4490 5
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... reticent woman and a man who wants to possess and reconstruct her. It was to have marked Grace Kelly’s return to the screen after the marriage that made her a princess, but in a referendum the citizens of Monaco registered their disapproval, and the part went to Tippi Hedren instead. Marnie is a thief, and what drew Hitchcock to the project, he ...

Halls and Hovels

Colin Richmond, 19 December 1991

The Architecture of Medieval Britain 
by Colin Platt, with photographs by Anthony Kersting.
Yale, 325 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 300 04953 6
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... cut hedges, tidy gravel, unpeopled courts and rooms: only beneath the awe-inspiring gateway of Thornton Abbey does a sheepish lady in a red hat smile at the photographer. This landscape is unreal even for today. Where are the motorcars, the lawn-mowers, the ice-cream vans, the Saturday afternoon bikers, the bored children, the ignorant tourists, and our ...

Blake’s Tone

E.P. Thompson, 28 January 1993

Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s 
by Jon Mee.
Oxford, 251 pp., £30, August 1992, 0 19 812226 8
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... between ceremonial formal law and established forms, on the one hand, and faith and free grace on the other. But that is about as far as Huntington takes us towards Blake. For Huntington was a High Tory, and he busied himself disciplining those members of his flock who were influenced by Tom Paine or by the prophet Richard Brothers (‘God’s ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... and would work closely with them (he approached Hemingway, Hammett and Nabokov, and employed Thornton Wilder, Steinbeck, Chandler, Brian Moore and Anthony Shaffer). Spoto has found many ready to testify to Hitchcock’s inadequacy without them (like Brian Moore of Torn Curtain: ‘I found that he had absolutely no concept of character’); and to his ...

His Spittin’ Image

Colm Tóibín: John Stanislaus Joyce, 22 February 2018

... worst piece of luck may have been the brooding presence in his household throughout his fall from grace of his second living son, Stanislaus, who described what happened to the family with bitterness and in some detail in two books, both published after his death, My Brother’s Keeper in 1958 and The Complete Dublin Diary of Stanislaus Joyce in 1971. In My ...

Ich dien

Michael Neill: Shakespeare and the Servants, 22 October 2009

Shakespeare, Love and Service 
by David Schalkwyk.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £50, June 2008, 978 0 521 88639 0
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... lately, made its fundamental importance difficult to recognise. Not until the appearance of Mark Thornton Burnett’s study, Masters and Servants in English Renaissance Drama, barely a decade ago, did its place in early modern culture seem worth exploring. Even Burnett’s study was limited by its concentration on the humbler categories of servant, on ...

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