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Back to the Ironing-Board

Theo Tait: Weber and Norman, 15 April 1999

The Music Lesson 
by Katharine Weber.
Phoenix House, 161 pp., £12.99, January 1999, 1 86159 118 7
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The Museum Guard 
by Howard Norman.
Picador, 310 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780330370097
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... anonymous Dutch master which pushes Freddie Montgomery over the edge into homicide. Like Banville, Howard Norman and Katharine Weber write about stealing Dutch paintings, and they share a similar attitude to them. For them, Dutch art represents modesty of subject-matter, and precision – ‘the details’ is a phrase of some importance in both ...

Looking away

Michael Wood, 18 May 1989

First Light 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 328 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 241 12498 0
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The Chymical Wedding 
by Lindsay Clarke.
Cape, 542 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 224 02537 6
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The Northern Lights 
by Howard Norman.
Faber, 236 pp., £4.99, April 1989, 0 571 15474 3
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... or neglected. There are ghosts and ghosts. Some of them may be more up-to-date than we are. Howard Norman’s Canadian version of pastoral, first published in America in 1987, allows us a sidelong glance at these questions. It, too, has ghosts and concerns the past, but although coolly and crisply written, it is more elegiac than either of the ...

The Unsolved Mystery of the Money Tree

Anthony Howard: Jeremy Thorpe, 19 August 1999

In My Own Time: Reminiscences of a Liberal Leader 
by Jeremy Thorpe.
Politico’s, 234 pp., £18, April 1999, 1 902301 21 8
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... his old denial that he had ever had a homosexual affair with a young groom and male model called Norman Scott, the man he was eventually to be accused of wanting to have murdered; yet he throws no other light at all on their acknowledged acquaintanceship – immortalised for the middle-aged by that famous phrase in a letter Thorpe once sent to Scott ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard, 25 January 1996

Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... an Evening Standard contributor, who had taken me to the lunch, had just started going out with Norman Mailer.) But what I now think was probably genuine was the acknowledgment on the proprietor’s part that Wintour enjoyed ‘favoured nation status’ among Beaverbrook editors. Within certain limits – of which, no doubt, support for capital punishment ...

Broadcasting and the Abyss

Norman Buchan, 14 June 1990

... the crystal ball. We have seen the future. In his lecture to the Royal Institution on 4 April, Howard Stringer, President of the CBS network in the United States, cautioned ‘against promiscuous uses of the word “freedom”. It is a word that, second only to “patriotism”, offers rich opportunities for flim-flam ... freedom is most available to those ...

Danger: English Lessons

R.W. Johnson: French v. English, 16 March 2017

Power and Glory: France’s Secret Wars with Britain and America, 1945-2016 
by R.T. Howard.
Biteback, 344 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 1 78590 116 4
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... De Gaulle replied: ‘The fact that the Americans speak English.’ In Power and Glory R.T. Howard argues that for the French national power and influence are intimately bound up not just with ‘soft power’ but with the influence of one’s culture and language specifically. This was a cause for concern when Britain was applying to join the ...

1086, 1886, 1986 and all that

John Dodgson, 22 May 1986

Domesday: 900 Years of England’s Norman Heritage 
edited by Kate Allen.
Millbank in association with the National Domesday Committee, 192 pp., £3, March 1986, 0 946171 49 1
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The Normans and the Norman Conquest 
by R. Allen Brown.
Boydell, 259 pp., £19.50, January 1985, 0 85115 427 1
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The Domesday Book: England’s Heritage, Then and Now 
edited by Thomas Hinde.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 09 161830 4
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Domesday Heritage 
edited by Elizabeth Hallam.
Arrow, 95 pp., £3.95, February 1986, 0 09 945800 4
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Domesday Book through Nine Centuries 
by Elizabeth Hallam.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £12.50, March 1986, 0 500 25097 9
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Domesday Book: A Reassessment 
edited by Peter Sawyer.
Arnold, 182 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7131 6440 9
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... in 1066, conveniently ominous for the tapestry’s mendacious propaganda on behalf of the Norman Conquest. 1986 sees another remarkable periodic manifestation: this year is the 900th anniversary of Domesday Book, and centennial celebrations are in progress. Domesday Book consists of two volumes compiled in 1086: a parchment folio, Great ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal, 3 February 2000

Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... hammocks signing up biographies of high-profile authors such as Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer (three thus far, along with a memoir by one of his former wives, with other exes waiting in the wings to take their whacks). The irony is that publishers seem more eager to bring out books about golden-oldie authors than books by them, gossip about ...

Big Bad Wolfe

John Sutherland, 18 February 1988

The Bonfire of the Vanities 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 659 pp., £11.95, February 1988, 0 224 02439 6
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... timely confirmation of Wolfe’s savage assertions in The Bonfire of the Vanities is the Howard Beach case, the sentences in which are just now being given out. On 19 December 1986, a car with three young black men in it broke down near Howard Beach, in the borough of Queens. The area is solidly white, and the ...

Florey Story

Peter Medawar, 20 December 1979

Howard Florey: The Making of a Great Scientist 
by Gwyn Macfarlane.
Oxford, 396 pp., £7.95
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... Howard Walter Florey was a great man and nomistake. He devoted the more important partof his professional life to a single wholly admirable purpose which he pursued until he achieved it, showing, in spite of many setbacks and rebuffs, the magnanimity that is the minimal entry qualification for being considered ‘great ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... of his rivals. Charles Brandon was part of a coterie of special favourites, with Edward Howard, Thomas Knyvett and Henry Guildford. In 1512, the young king went to war with France. Charles was given command of troops for a sea attack on Brittany, to be led by Edward Howard. With Thomas Knyvett on board, the Regent ...

Tea with Medea

Simon Skinner: Richard Cobb, 19 July 2012

My Dear Hugh: Letters from Richard Cobb to Hugh Trevor-Roper and Others 
Frances Lincoln, 240 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 7112 3240 2Show More
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... that the KA is a pub (I did know that), then you’re lost. ‘The Dean’ (of Peterhouse, Edward Norman) and ‘the Chancellor’ (of Oxford, Harold Macmillan) are not identified. How many readers will translate ‘My Successor … is not in much favour with your successor … owing to his lack of assiduity in his attendance beneath the portrait of Queen ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson, 24 July 1986

Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... of his misdeeds would be almost unthinkable, had it not been for Ronnie Barker and his alter ego Norman Stanley Fletcher. Porridge made even prison appear as warm and cosy as the front sitting-room. Prison has proved almost as attractive to the courts. Great Britain continues to imprison more of its population, and for longer periods of time, than almost any ...

Rough Wooing

Tom Shippey: Queen Matilda, 17 November 2011

Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror 
by Tracy Borman.
Cape, 297 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 0 224 09055 1
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... at female figures of the past. King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant (2007) was about Henrietta Howard, long-service mistress of George II, while Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen (2010) dealt with Elizabeth’s mother, sister and female competitors. Her co-authored history of royal weddings, The Ring and the Crown, came out somewhat ...

In Letchworth

Gillian Darley: Pevsner's Hertfordshire, 2 January 2020

... began in 1903 after a competition to design a town that demonstrated the ideas of Ebenezer Howard. Howard’s book Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform was loosely based on the work of Henry George and, following George’s philosophy, the growing development value of Letchworth was returned directly to its ...

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