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Helen Cooper: The maverick poetry of John Skelton

14 December 2006
John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak 
by Jane Griffiths.
Oxford, 213 pp., £50, February 2006, 9780199273607
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... of his poems embed themselves in the locality: his diatribe Ware the Hawk, against a neighbouring vicar whose hawk pursued its prey into his church at Diss; and Phillip Sparrow, a dirge for the young Jane Scrope’s pet bird, a poem one would describe as charming were it not for the fact that its opening liturgical lament is succeeded by his fantasies as to what goes on under the sparrow’s owner’s ...


Jay Griffiths: Protesting at Fairmile

8 May 1997
... and specifically saw themselves in the tradition of soldiers of the Second World War, who believed themselves to be ‘fighting for their countryside’. Protest culture has an epic sense of time. Jane, at Fairmile, looks at the oak tree which used to be her home before the evictions, and says: ‘that tree was growing before the internal combustion engine was invented and would have been there ...

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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... mammal had two sets of sharp teeth to make a clean bite. No other land had been treated so gently.’ It would take only two hundred years for this earth to be pounded into dust. Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths are among Australia’s most creative historians. Griffiths’s Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia (1996) has become the most quoted work of Australian history in new ...

Cool It

Jenny Diski

18 July 1996
I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 356 pp., £15.99, June 1996, 9780571144877
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... and its heroic explorers. Indeed, the loss of Sir John Franklin and his party during his search for the Northwest Passage in the 1840s only further fuelled the imaginative drama of the ice. Lady Jane Franklin, reminding the nation of her husband’s heroism with her own heroic bearing, whipped up sympathy and money for years of searching which finally located the bodies of the party – though ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections

18 May 2000
... next. He had a ‘set’ or pair of upstairs rooms – bedroom and sitting-room – at the back of the house. The rent was 14 shillings a week. Among his fellow lodgers were a Welsh apothecary named Griffiths, who had the garret-room on the floor above him; a married couple, the Folletts; and a certain ‘well-made’ young man, a solicitor’s clerk, who is referred to in the Liber Amoris as ‘Mr C ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It

6 June 2002
The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... down to a series of case-studies of celebrated literary forgers, from James Macpherson and Thomas Chatterton to the Shakespearean forger William Henry Ireland and the Victorian con-artist Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. Much of this is illuminating, and impressively wide-ranging: the book pirouettes energetically from poetry and the visual arts to law and economics, dropping erudite allusions and ...
20 April 1989
One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... that of other countries in the real world’. And while it contributes something to one’s assessment of, say, Macmillan to know that he sought solace in his private hours with the works of Livy and Jane Austen, what can one say about someone who, after spending much of her day ranting at her ministers, her civil servants and the Opposition about the evils of socialism, likes to relax, as her ...

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