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Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... associations of the term ‘coalition’ are deep-rooted in British politics. The short-lived Fox-North coalition of 1783 became a byword for low cynicism and a willingness to seize power at whatever cost. According to George III, it was ‘the most daring and unprincipled faction that the annals of the kingdom ever produced’. Military defeat in the ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley, 23 April 1987

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... Macmillan and is protected now by the enthusiasm of men such as Roy Jenkins and Robert Rhodes James. But why should those of us who are excluded from this desirable club at Westminster want such an extended work of collective biography? In the case of these volumes one obvious reason lies in the period that they cover. They begin one year after the ...


Colin Kidd: Burke, 4 February 2016

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke 
by Richard Bourke.
Princeton, 1001 pp., £30.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 14511 2
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Training Minds for the War of Ideas: Ashridge College, the Conservative Party and the Cultural Politics of Britain, 1929-54 
by Clarisse Berthezène.
Manchester, 214 pp., £75, June 2015, 978 0 7190 8649 6
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. IV: Party, Parliament and the Dividing of the Whigs, 1780-94 
edited by P.J. Marshall and Donald Bryant.
Oxford, 674 pp., £120, October 2015, 978 0 19 966519 8
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... group and, after Rockingham’s death, its successor the Foxites – followers of Charles James Fox – who, with some success, tried to monopolise the Whig label. Their main opponents, the Pittites, who followed William Pitt the Younger, are often miscategorised as Tories, though they too described themselves as Whigs. The modern Conservative ...

At the V&A

Susannah Clapp: ‘Bags: Inside Out’, 20 May 2021

... her private parts to get at her life. Even the vocabulary of bags is slippery, as the writer James Fox found when, dining next to a radio show hostess, he looked at the small purse she had perched on the table and startled her by praising her ‘nice little snatch’. Clutch, clutch is the word. ‘I sometimes think you expect too much of a ...


Inigo Thomas: Berry Bros, 20 December 2018

... the time. Another way to phrase the same exam question would have been: ‘Have you read Margery James?’ I’m sure I hadn’t; I have now. I was reminded of the exam question when I went to the wine cellars at Berry Brothers & Rudd on St James’s Street in early December, and as I ordered ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... there is no difficulty, as Thompson points out, in reinterpreting it as a Downton Abbey affair. James Fox’s articles in the Sunday Times and the New Review saw in it the ‘whole waterlogged English class system’ sinking under its own weight. But the system has proved remarkably buoyant. Old Etonians and alumni of the Bullingdon Club continue to ...

I could light my pipe at her eyes

Ian Gilmour: Women and politics in Victorian Britain, 3 September 1998

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire 
by Amanda Foreman.
HarperCollins, 320 pp., £19.99, May 1998, 0 00 255668 5
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Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain 
by K.D. Reynolds.
Oxford, 268 pp., £35, April 1998, 0 19 820727 1
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Lady Byron and Earl Shilton 
by David Herbert.
Hinckley Museum, 128 pp., £7.50, March 1998, 0 9521471 3 0
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... the riots the Duchess made her first public political move, standing on the hustings with Charles James Fox, who was contesting Westminster in the September General Election and whose mistress she may, or may not, at some point have been. Although she was there for only a short time, many were shocked by her boldness. At the Westminster by-election two ...

Look me in the eye

James Hall: Self-portraiture, 25 January 2001

The Artist's Body 
edited by Tracey Warr and Amelia Jones.
Phaidon, 304 pp., £39.95, July 2000, 0 7148 3502 1
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Five Hundred Self-Portraits 
edited by Julian Bell.
Phaidon, 528 pp., £19.95, November 2000, 0 7148 3959 0
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Renaissance Self-Portraiture 
by Joanna Woods-Marsden.
Yale, 285 pp., £45, October 1998, 0 300 07596 0
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... and Walpole regarded her work as equal to Bernini’s; she also presented busts of Charles James Fox and Nelson to Napoleon – Fox, because of her connection with the Whig opposition and Nelson, presumably, as an object of disinterested admiration now that he was safely dead. Her novelty value as a woman ...

Fuss, Fatigue and Rage

Ian Gilmour: Two Duff Kings, 15 July 1999

George IV 
by E.A. Smith.
Yale, 306 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 300 07685 1
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... George and Mrs Fitzherbert went through a ceremony of marriage. George assured his friend, Charles James Fox, that he was not married, and Fox repeated the assurance to the House of Commons. Maria was furious when George told her what Fox had said; and ...


Ian Gilmour, 1 August 1996

The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle 
by John Ehrman.
Constable, 911 pp., £35, May 1996, 9780094755406
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... Entering the House of Commons at the age of 21, which was by law the minimum age, although Charles James Fox had earlier been ‘elected’ when 19, Pitt immediately made a profound impression with his maiden speech. Instead of being the usual over-rehearsed address bearing little relation to what had been said by previous speakers, it was delivered ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... Gibbon was made a member in 1774 and Adam Smith in 1775. The importance of other members, such as James Boswell and the pioneering linguistician William Jones, was recognised only posthumously. Alongside Johnson himself (and before one even gets to Garrick or Reynolds), their involvement supports Leo Damrosch’s claim that the Club brought together ...


William Thomas, 16 October 1980

Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... of the many Scottish Whigs like Holland’s librarian John Allen, or the historian Sir James Mackintosh, who were drawn into the circle, are left unanalysed. When he writes of ‘Holland House’ thinking this or disapproving of that, he mostly seems to mean Lord and Lady Holland. The book is essentially an exploration of their outlook, and ...

Prinney, Boney, Boot

Roy Porter, 20 March 1986

The English Satirical Print 1600-1832 
edited by Michael Duffy.
Chadwyck-Healey, February 1986
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... prints and gave Gillray his blooding. Thereafter cartoons went from strength to strength, guying Fox and Pitt, depicting in blood-curdling detail the Terror and the perils of the swinish multitude at home, and then, slightly later, exposing the debaucheries of Prinney and the enormities of Old Corruption – and all against the bugbear backdrop of Boney. If ...
... about all this, but it was all part of the atmosphere. AH: Where was the office? FW: Just off St James’s, Park Place or something. Very pretty, a very old rickety building, with one lavatory, and a funny person who lived at the top. And then all the writs began arriving. Verschoyle wasn’t a shy man, but he couldn’t tell anybody. In some mysterious way ...


Peter Campbell, 21 January 1988

Running with the fox 
by David Macdonald.
Unwin Hyman, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 04 440084 5
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... The red fox is found throughout Europe, Asia and North America. It was introduced to Australia, although Tasmania is fox-less as the brace which hunting military men took there were destroyed. Foxes live in deserts and cities as well as in the hunting shires. They are opportunists, and not loved for it ...

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