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Diary

R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College

19 November 2009
... the college was badly run, the buildings were not maintained and Magdalen sank down the wealth table as it greedily consumed its assets. These tendencies reached their apogee under the presidency of JamesGriffiths. It was a desperate period: after each college meeting younger fellows would examine the statutes to see how to get rid of a president. On one public occasion when Griffiths had to ...

Document Number Nine

John Lanchester: Chinese Cyber-Sovereignty

10 October 2019
The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet 
by James Griffiths.
Zed, 386 pp., £20, March, 978 1 78699 535 3
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We Have Been Harmonised: Life in China’s Surveillance State 
by Kai Strittmatter.
Old Street, 328 pp., £9.99, May, 978 1 913083 00 7
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... will be spread by cell phone and cable modem,’ Clinton said. ‘We know how much the internet has changed America, and we are already an open society. Imagine how much it could change China.’ As JamesGriffiths tells us in The Great Firewall of China, his detailed and compelling account of Chinese online censorship, this was an applause line for Clinton in 2000. ‘Now there’s no question China ...

Declinism

David Edgerton

7 March 1996
The Lost Victory: British Dreams, British Realities, 1945-50 
by Correlli Barnett.
Macmillan, 514 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 333 48045 7
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... if Barnett were the first person ever to have noticed the British decline, and the first to expose its causes. It is powerfully polemical, tough-minded and categorical in its judgments. For example, JamesGriffiths and Aneurin Bevan’s commitment to building a welfare state is reduced to the fact that they were ‘both of them products, although individually very different, of Victorian romantic ...

Short Cuts

James​ Meek: Anglospheroids

21 March 2013
... John Norton-Griffiths, ‘Empire Jack’, engineer and strapping essence of imperial British manliness, was sent to Romania in 1916 to destroy that country’s oil industry before the Germans overran it. He had the ...

A Skeleton My Cat

Norma Clarke: ‘Poor Goldsmith’

21 February 2019
The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
edited by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £64.99, July 2018, 978 1 107 09353 9
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... was ‘little Goldy’, Dr Minor to Johnson’s Dr Major, the Sancho Panza of English literature, ‘an idiot in the ways of the world’, an ‘anomalous character’, envious, blundering, clownish. James Prior’s full, scholarly biography, designed to restore Goldsmith’s dignity, did not appear until 1837 and was quickly supplanted by two popularising and very popular works, John Forster’s The ...

Rub gently out with stale bread

Adam Smyth: The Print Craze

2 November 2017
The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 
by Antony Griffiths.
British Museum, 560 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 7141 2695 1
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... for a painting that couldn’t be bought, and so a marker of an absence, the Boydell print was also (or was becoming) an artistic object in itself, an illustration of the new idea that (in Antony Griffiths’s words) ‘a multiple could be a work of art’. While recent studies of the history of the book have, after D.F. McKenzie, richly described the relations between printers, publishers, authors and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: TV Lit

15 November 2001
... assaulting the wife of the President of Nigeria. The royal family get to be themselves, though, and so does Billy Connolly, alone among broadcasting talent (unless you count Alistair Cooke and Clive James, who provide epigraphs). This may be because Lawson overlooked Connolly when it came to changing the names, or it may be because he forgot Connolly isn’t a member of the royal family. ‘I think ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren

5 November 1981
Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... lawyers. Poor Mr Ferris actually gives us a list of people who wouldn’t talk about his hero: these include Claire Bloom, Alexander Cohen, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Griffiths, Joseph Losey, James Mason, Vincente Minnelli, Mike Nichols, Rachel Roberts, Daphne Rye, Jean Simmons, and three of his wives, Sybil Christopher, Elizabeth Taylor and Susan Hunt. I particularly ...

Festschriftiness

Susan Pedersen

6 October 2011
Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James​ Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... affiliations but according to an empiricist standard: how adequately it explained particular outcomes such as the decline of Chartism or the nature of Labour politics. Joyce and his student James Vernon then charged Lawrence and Taylor with a ‘complacent’ desire to appropriate the tools of linguistic analysis while undermining its epistemological radicalism. All the two camps could agree ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison

4 June 1987
Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... of Morgan Phillips this third major strength of the book overlaps with its fourth (predictable from the historian of modern Wales): its emphasis on the Party’s Welsh component (Mabon, Noah Ablett, JamesGriffiths, Aneurin Bevan). Morgan also has a sharp eye for important or significant but neglected figures. How right he is, for example, to see the career of the political scientist Harold Laski as ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia

25 September 2003
The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... years, all parts of the continent have been renamed. A little over a year ago, two historical items were put on the Memory of the World Register (the list of documentary heritage launched in 1997): James Cook’s journal of the Endeavour, written in his own hand; and the Edward Koiki Mabo Papers, the record of Eddie Mabo’s landmark case before the High Court, which gave legal recognition to the ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart

18 September 1980
C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James​ Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... This is a collection of essays, old and new, by diverse hands, brought together by James T. Como, a Professor of Rhetorical Communication in the City University of New York. He tells us in an introduction: ‘Now several societies exist for the purpose of studying Lewis’s thoughts ...

Glimpsed in the Glare

Michael Neill: Shakespeare in 1606

17 December 2015
1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear 
by James​ Shapiro.
Faber, 423 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 571 23578 0
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...  nothing less than ‘Shakespeare: His true likeness revealed at last’. The detective who had ‘cracked the Tudor code’ was the botanist, horticulturalist and historian of gardening Mark Griffiths: his elaborately illustrated essay, ‘Face to Face with Shakespeare’, focused on John Gerard’s well-known Elizabethan manual of botany, The Herball or, General Historie of Plantes, and purported ...
8 May 1986
Parliamentary Debates: Hansard, Vol. 95, No 94 
HMSO, £2.50Show More
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... hit no less than four or five foreign embassies. It is difficult to believe that the A6s from the American Sixth Fleet would have hit any more.’ Healey and Gilmour – and indeed Edward Heath and James Callaghan – may be thought to have spoken for those two-thirds of poll respondents who decided that Mrs Thatcher had been guilty of a brutal misjudgment: and for the many people who believe that ...
22 January 1981
Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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Neighbours 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... Castlereagh or Balfour. His exasperation with Terence O’Neill and the authors of the Sunningdale agreement, who acted uprightly and failed, seeps through, as does his dislike of De Valera and Sir James Craig. His good guys were duped and let down, while the last two died in their beds, full of Irish honours. Thus O’Connell and Parnell seem to react primarily to English stimuli, and the autonomous ...

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