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The road is still open

David Wootton: Turpin Hero?, 3 February 2005

Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 258 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 1 86197 418 3
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... the forerunner to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ‘Stephen Hero’. Turpin is no hero to James Sharpe, who sets out to cut him down to size, just another ‘callous, brutal and violent’ criminal, an ‘unpleasant thug’, hardly distinguishable from so many others, so that when The Lives of Noted Highwaymen was published around 1750 he was not ...

Brutish Babies

David Wootton: Witchcraft, 11 November 1999

Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night 
by Wolfgang Behringer, translated by H.C.Erik Midelfort.
Virginia, 203 pp., £14.50, September 1998, 0 8139 1853 7
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe 
by Stuart Clark.
Oxford, 845 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 820001 3
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Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Routledge, 368 pp., £55, April 1999, 0 415 19611 6
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The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 256 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 9781861970480
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... But it seems that this self-denying ordinance is becoming increasingly hard to sustain: James Sharpe’s Bewitching of Anne Gunter includes the story of Elizabeth Stile, executed in 1579, told, for what is I think the first time in modern scholarly literature, as if she believed herself to be a witch. The modern history of the witch-hunt begins ...

Unmatched Antiquary

Blair Worden, 21 February 1980

Sir Robert Cotton 1586-1631: History and Politics in Early Modern England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Oxford, 293 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198218777
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... social change, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversy: Cotton, as Mr Sharpe shows, became to monarchs and parliaments alike the arbiter of controversial historical evidence. A distinguished 18th-century antiquary recalled without exaggeration that Cotton had been ‘consulted as an oracle by the privy councillors and greatest men ...

Draining the Whig bathwater

Conrad Russell, 10 June 1993

The Personal Rule of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 983 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 300 05688 5
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... also in that it contains a prodigious amount of work. All the familiar sources are here, but Dr Sharpe also draws on many manuscript collections which are less familiar because they are newly available or in remote places. He gives us many valuable ‘unconsidered trifles’. I will not soon forget the man protesting against militia rates who believed ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland, 18 December 1980

Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... us. By an accident of the publishing season, Tennant’s morsel of national whimsy coincides with James Michener’s brick-sized The Covenant. At 873 pages (costing a mere £7.95 – compare Alice fell’s 124 for £5.50), this can claim to be the only Great American South African novel. Michener’s work belongs to the currently best-selling genre of the ...

Tough Morsels

Peter Rudnytsky, 7 November 1991

The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-45 
edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner.
Routledge, 958 pp., £100, December 1990, 0 415 03170 2
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... to Klein she disavowed being – the Karl Abraham of the British Society – there were Ella Sharpe and Marjorie Brierley. Sharpe stands out for her evocative clinical writing and her ‘Memorandum on Technique’, which eloquently highlights the importance of pace and process in analytic treatment and the inevitable ...

Intellectual Liberation

Blair Worden, 21 January 1988

Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 317 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 436 42512 2
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Archbishop William Laud 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 272 pp., £25, December 1987, 0 7102 0463 9
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Clarendon and his Friends 
by Richard Ollard.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £15, September 1987, 0 241 12380 1
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Anti-Calvinists 
by Nicholas Tyacke.
Oxford, 305 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 19 822939 9
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Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £27.50, December 1987, 0 521 34239 2
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... there is the old-fashioned Calvinism of that doyen of Puritan scholars, the Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher. Although the first system was less dogmatic than the second, both of them closed their adherents’ minds. Between them lay the third, altogether healthier response: the sceptical, rational Anglicanism of the Great Tew Circle, of Clarendon and his ...

Diary

Mark Ford: Love and Theft, 2 December 2004

... in the LRB (5 August). The idea for the poem came from a comment in an excellent book by Tony Sharpe on Wallace Stevens, in which he speculates on the flocks of pigeons mentioned in the last lines of ‘Sunday Morning’: And, in the isolation of the sky, At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make Ambiguous undulations as they sink, Downward to ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... James Wilcox’s charming comedy is set in rural Louisiana, among people who read the Bible in an engagingly amateurish way, associating religion with the conventions about drinking and dancing enforced by their anxious parents, and sometimes tempted to ‘modernise’ their lives, while still seeking God’s guidance ...

Shall we tell the children?

Paul Seabright, 3 July 1986

Melanie Klein: Her World and her Work 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hodder, 516 pp., £19.95, June 1986, 0 340 25751 2
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Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James and Alix Strachey 1924-1925 
edited by Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick.
Chatto, 360 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 7011 3051 2
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... extraction named Melanie Klein. It was largely thanks to the efforts of Alix and her husband James in bringing Klein to the attention of the British Psycho-Analytical Society that she moved to London in 1926 after the death of Abraham. He had been Klein’s mentor and analyst, and without him she had little defence against the hostility that was ...

The natives did a bunk

Malcolm Gaskill: The Little Ice Age, 19 July 2018

A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America 
by Sam White.
Harvard, 361 pp., £23.95, October 2017, 978 0 674 97192 9
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... Company and the foundation of Jamestown, initially a fortified camp on a soggy peninsula on the James River, forty miles from the sea. Two joint stock companies, one in London, the other in Plymouth, sold shares and secured a charter from James I in 1607, an improvised scheme contrasting starkly with the imperial élan ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... had therefore never taken a country walk in his life?’ Wrottesley Poly, however, is as much Tom Sharpe territory as a part of the Amis-Bradbury-Lodge world, and it is in the matter of comic plotting that Coming from Behind seemed to me to fail. Jacobson’s portrayal of Goldberg is flawless, but he seems to have little idea what to do with him, and the book ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... The revisionist historians of the Stuart period, led by Conrad Russell with Kevin Sharpe in support, have sought to persuade us that, contrary to what most English historians have led us to believe, the first two Stuart kings were on the whole a good thing, the Parliamentarians a bad thing. Perhaps even more important than this, they want us ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... confuses Samuel Johnson the writer with Dr Johnson the ogre and bully portrayed by Boswell. James Murray, the author of the OED, succumbed to the same confusion, perhaps, when in a dream he imagined that Johnson was speaking of his Dictionary and Boswell, in an impish mood, asked ‘What would you say, Sir, if you were told that in a hundred ...

On the highway

Jonathan Coe, 24 March 1994

Desperadoes 
by Joseph O’Connor.
Flamingo, 426 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 224301 6
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Resurrection Man 
by Eoin McNamee.
Picador, 233 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 330 33274 0
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Stir-Fry 
by Emma Donoghue.
Hamish Hamilton, 232 pp., £9.99, January 1994, 0 241 13442 0
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... to find easy charm and an undercurrent of throwaway, slightly macho humour reminiscent of Tom Sharpe or Howard Jacobson. (A character called Smokes decides not to tell his girlfriend that he’s been unfaithful to her; after satisfying himself that he is morally justified in the deception, he reflects that ‘this scenario would have the added advantage ...

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