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According to A.N. Wilson

Patricia Beer, 3 December 1992

Jesus 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 269 pp., £15, September 1992, 1 85619 114 1
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... to the point of sprightliness sometimes, but without becoming facetious. Even when, for example, Wilson speaks of Jesus in the same breath and tone as he speaks of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood, he is making a serious point about the traditional techniques of rhetoric as used by St Luke, who, in this instance, drops historical names such as ...

Heroic Irrigations

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1990

The English Spa 1560-1815: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry.
Athlone, 401 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 485 11374 0
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The Medical History of Waters and Spas 
edited by Roy Porter.
Wellcome Institute, 150 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 85484 095 8
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... not forget the splendours of that heyday, in Bath: ‘The most fashionable library before 1800 was James Marshall’s in Milsom Street, where from 1793 to 1799 the mostly aristocratic and upper-class subscribers included two princes (the Prince of Wales and Frederick, Prince of Orange), five dukes, four duchesses, seven earls, 14 countesses, many other nobles ...
Goldenballs 
by Richard Ingrams.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 144 pp., £4.25
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... It was for services ‘to exports and ecology’ that Sir James Goldsmith was nominated for a peerage, and then demoted to a knight by the Scrutiny Committee, in what is bitterly remembered as the Wilson Honours List. Was there a connection between Sir James’s elevation and his year-long battle to punish Private Eye and jail its editor, Richard Ingrams – an effort which was supported by Wilson and Lady Falkender, both victims of Ingrams’s harassment, and which petered out in a relatively painless settlement in 1976? Ingrams’s theory is that there was such a connection ...

The water-doctors vanish

E.S. Turner: The social history of British spas, 4 June 1998

British Spas from 1815 to the Present Day: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry and Leonard Cowie.
Athlone, 292 pp., £50, June 1997, 0 485 11502 6
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... one, a brace of doctors at Malvern decided to turn that spa into the English Gräfenberg. Both Dr James Wilson and Dr James Manby Gully made quick fortunes, though Gully was eventually disgraced by his involvement in the Charles Bravo murder mystery. Hembry records that those who undertook the cold-water cure at ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... untouched by it all. Rajasthan, which with its feudal chivalry had fascinated the company agent James Tod, doesn’t seem to have interested Low. And he never turned his long experience into punditry at home although the final years of company rule were littered with old India hands taking sides very publicly. During Low’s lengthiest furlough, between ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... which have lurked in plain view in the text of the Constitution since 1787. Figures such as James Wilson and Alexander Hamilton, and outside the convention itself, John Adams, James Iredell and Benjamin Rush, did not comprise a party as such, indeed they had their disagreements; but they shared a set of ideas ...

My Life with Harold Wilson

Peter Jenkins, 20 December 1979

Final Term: The Labour Government 1974-76 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 322 pp., £8.95
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... I did not know Harold Wilson until he became leader of the Labour Party in early 1963. The first personal encounter I can remember was when he stopped at a party and engaged me in arcane small talk about the world price of wheat and its consequence for the price mechanism of the Common Agricultural Policy. I was blinded with science ...

The Only Way

Mark Leier, 8 March 2001

Canada’s Tibet: The Killing of the Innu 
by Colin Samson and James Wilson et al.
Survival International, 51 pp., £5, November 1999, 0 7567 0419 7
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Give Me My Father’s Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo 
by Kenn Harper.
Profile, 277 pp., £9.99, August 2000, 1 86197 252 0
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... A series of sixty-second commercials shown on Canadian television tell us that Canadians invented basketball and Superman and that Winnie the Pooh is based on the mascot of a Canadian regiment sent to fight for Britain in the First World War. One of these Heritage Minutes is about the Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader, Sitting Bull. After the defeat of General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, he and five thousand other Sioux fled from the US Army to Canada ...

Schlepping around the Flowers

James Meek: Bees, 4 November 2004

The Hive: The Story of the Honey-Bee and Us 
by Bee Wilson.
Murray, 308 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 0 7195 6409 3
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... in the garden on a hot summer’s day, and their busyness contrasts with our idleness; as Bee Wilson says, we do so admire the bees’ industriousness in schlepping around the flowers, hauling the sweet stuff back and toiling away in the hive. And then we steal their honey. Virgil admired the politics of the hive, with its ‘great-hearted leaders, a ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... begins with her writer parents and the people she met in their living room in New York: Edmund Wilson, James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors ...

At Free Love Corner

Jenny Diski, 30 March 2000

Literary Seductions: Compulsive Writers and Diverted Readers 
by Frances Wilson.
Faber, 258 pp., £12.99, October 1999, 0 571 19288 2
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... end of my fishlike emotion.’ Seduction is a process of leading astray, and all writing, Frances Wilson contends, attempts to seduce, to distract the reader from the world around him to the world on the page. Her conviction that all seducers have themselves been seduced leads to the notion that writers, having been ensnared by writing, become compulsive ...

Glaswegians

Andrew O’Hagan, 11 May 1995

... since early in the war, working as a lamp-trimmer. He was good pals with an assistant cook called James Wilson McGinlay, who was a bit younger. McGinlay’s father was a coachman at Milton, in Glasgow, a fact which eventually brought James into nodding and tobacco-loaning relations with my grandfather, Michael ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... for ‘swashbuckling’ entrepreneurs, especially ones with Northern accents. When she first met James Hanson, his gentle Yorkshire lilt fascinated her almost as much as his millions. She assumed, as Harold Wilson had several years previously, that Hanson was typical of the self-made man, the hard-working puritan who ...

All the Sad Sages

Ferdinand Mount: Bagehot, 6 February 2014

Memoirs of Walter Bagehot 
by Frank Prochaska.
Yale, 207 pp., £18.99, August 2013, 978 0 300 19554 5
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... apprenticeship in the Bristol counting house. Even after moving to London with his wife, Eliza Wilson, Walter remained a key figure in Stuckey’s. Eliza was the daughter of James Wilson, the owner-founder of the Economist, who also became Palmerston’s financial secretary to the Treasury. ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... A.N. Wilson is something of an anachronism, and it was timely of him to make anachronism the nub of his new novel about the old days, Gentlemen in England. The title itself, in the England of 1985 where the new right spits even more zealously than the old left on the grave of the gentlemanly ideal, pushes anachronism and dislocation to the point of oxymoron ...

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