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Weavers and Profs

Katherine Harloe, 1 April 2021

A People’s History of Classics: Class and Greco-Roman Antiquity in Britain and Ireland 1689 to 1939 
by Edith Hall and Henry Stead.
Routledge, 670 pp., £29.99, March 2020, 978 0 367 43236 2
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... like wages and class struggles. They are so sordid!’The cartoon, reproduced in Edith Hall and Henry Stead’s People’s History of Classics, encapsulates several elements of the debate about classical education at the turn of the 20th century. In Classics Transformed: Schools, Universities and Society in England, 1830-1960, published in ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina SteadA Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... was better described as ‘fair of face’ or‘ill-favoured’ if the subject were not Christina Stead (1902-83) and the question had not figured so importantly in her conception of herself. The pictorial evidence is contradictory; but it appears that as a young woman she had good features, a fine, keen, intelligent face, somewhat spoiled by prominent front ...

The Master

C.K. Stead, 30 November 1995

Shards of Memory 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 272 pp., £15.99, July 1995, 9780719555718
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... Henry James’s injunction to the novelist was ‘Dramatise! Dramatise!’ Ezra Pound advocated ‘the presentative method’. A dozen lesser but important voices have urged that modern fiction must enact, not tell. The strongest intellectual pressures on the serious novelist in this century have all been, that is to say, in the direction – the ultimate direction – of the playscript or the screenplay and away from the elaboration of prose as prose ...

The Only True Throne

John Pemble: ‘Muckraker’, 19 July 2012

Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W.T. Stead 
by W. Sydney Robinson.
Robson, 281 pp., £20, May 2012, 978 1 84954 294 4
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... head,’ the Fleet Street veteran A.G. Gardiner wrote in his memoirs. He must have had W.T. Stead especially in mind, because no editorial head was bigger than Stead’s. In the 1880s, first as deputy editor then editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, he’d been able (he said) to ‘wreck cabinets [and] let loose a tide of ...

Apocalyptic Opacity

Frank Kermode, 24 September 1992

The End of the Century at the End of the World 
by C.K. Stead.
Harvill, 220 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 272662 9
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... is some reason to believe the author would encourage his readers to discover or invent them. C.K. Stead is a poet and an academic critic as well as a novelist. As a critic, he has written a lot about Modernism, and what he admires about the writers he thinks worthy of the appellation ‘Modernist’ – Ezra Pound above all – is a habit or quality of ...

The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... it to the lack of a sense of sin, which enabled her to change direction without a qualm. For W.T. Stead, the crusading journalist and once her hoped-for companion in ‘a political and spiritual marriage’, she was a profound religious leader and, together with Catherine Booth and Josephine Butler, one of the three remarkable women of the century. But for ...

Dream on

C.K. Stead, 3 December 1992

A World of My Own: A Dream Diary 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 116 pp., £12.99, October 1992, 1 871061 36 9
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... Auden Digit”.’ Appropriately Greene has dream-meetings not only with notable writers (he meets Henry James on a ‘most disagreeable river trip to Bogota’) but with world statesmen, popes and royalty. Several times he is offered, or given, important appointments. In one dream Edward Heath asks him to serve as Ambassador to Scotland; in another he reads ...

Liza Jarrett’s Hard Life

Paul Driver, 4 December 1986

The Death of the Body 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 192 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 00 223067 4
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Kramer’s Goats 
by Rudolf Nassauer.
Peter Owen, 188 pp., £10.50, August 1986, 0 7206 0659 4
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by John Banville.
Secker, 234 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780436032660
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The Century’s Daughter 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 9780860686064
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Love Unknown 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 202 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 241 11922 7
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... think, breathes something of that ‘air of reality (solidity of specification)’ which seemed to Henry James ‘the supreme virtue of a novel – the merit on which all its other merits ... helplessly and submissively depend’. Unfortunately, that one – Pat Barker’s The Century’s Daughter – is also a consciously ‘working-class’ fiction whose ...


C.K. Stead, 22 February 1996

Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... into the elderly Claire’s household in Florence in the 1870s became source and subject for Henry James’s The Aspern Papers. Shelley, Claire told Silsbee, ‘got into a scrape’ (a phrase she used elsewhere in the letters to indicate a pregnancy outside wedlock) with a married woman who followed him to Naples. Pressed by Silsbee for more information ...

History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... problem. A further alternative would be to adopt the stylised format of Who’s Who or Debrett (Henry VIII, 2nd s of Henry VII, qv, S 1509: m 1st, Catherine of Aragon; 2nd, Anne Boleyn; 3rd, Jane Seymour; 4th, Anne of Cleves; 5th, Catherine Howard; 6th, Catherine Parr etc). The authors have made their own ...

At the V&A

T.J. Clark: ‘The Cult of Beauty’, 19 May 2011

... was always an impatience, a sense of insufficiency, haunting the Aesthetic Movement from within. Henry James coming out of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877 (before Ruskin’s ‘pot of paint’ had set the lines of battle): ‘It may be a narrow point of view, but to be interesting it seems to me that a picture should have some relation to life as well as to ...

The Same Old Solotaire

Peter Wollen, 4 July 1996

‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... Beardsley spent far too much of his life in doctors’ waiting-rooms (in one of which he met Henry Harland, his co-editor at the Yellow Book), swallowing creosote pills, spitting up blood, undergoing capricious treatments, collapsing exhausted into bed, seeking relief in sea air and living in terror of dying abandoned abroad. Early in 1898, he died in ...


Jonathan Bate, 27 July 1989

Train, Train 
by Graham Coster.
Bloomsbury, 225 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780747503941
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The Philosophers 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 9780715625118
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The King of the Fields 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Cape, 256 pp., £10.95, July 1989, 0 224 02663 1
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Sister Hollywood 
by C.K. Stead.
Collins, 224 pp., £11.95, June 1989, 0 00 223479 3
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Penelope’s Hat 
by Ronald Frame.
Hodder, 440 pp., £12.95, July 1989, 0 340 49397 6
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... breaking-up of the railways would have much more substance than did the bizarre juxtaposition of Henry VIII and the Monopolies Commission in the brewers’ recent advertising campaign. Early in Train, Train Edwards proffers a strong misreading of a Wordsworth sonnet in which railway labourers admire a        wide-spanned arch, wondering how it was ...

Up from Under

John Bayley, 18 February 1988

The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories 
edited by Murray Bail.
Faber, 413 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 571 15083 7
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... A famous passage in Henry James’s Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne laments the absence for the writer in America of every relation and institution which made writing socially viable – an army and a navy and a church and a court, and classes and village squires and evening parties. James’s view of the materials available to the writer may strike us today as somewhat old-fashioned and unenterprising, but there is a basic shrewdness in what he says ...

Walking through Walls

Graham Robb: The world’s first anti-hero rogue cop, 18 March 2004

Memoirs of Vidocq: Master of Crime 
AK Press, 370 pp., £14, July 2003, 1 902593 71 5Show More
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... Holmesian figure in Vidocq’s memoirs is not Vidocq himself but the man he devotedly calls ‘M. Henry’, who ran the criminal department of the Paris police: ‘Rarely did a criminal whom he examined leave his office without confessing his crime or giving some clue, unknown to himself, by which to convict him.’ It was Commissioner ...

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