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Mrs G

John Bayley, 11 March 1993

Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 690 pp., £20, February 1993, 0 571 15182 5
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... in such an excellent biography as this one is, than re-enter today the world of her own novels. Jenny Uglow is an erudite Victorianist, presenting with great deftness and understanding a dynamic and densely peopled world of journalists and Unitarians, clergymen, railway engineers, the labouring poor, the women who looked after them and bore their ...

How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... to filter out fear and uncertainty in favour of a seemingly inevitable procession of victories. As Jenny Uglow stresses in her gripping account of Britain during the Napoleonic era, contemporaries had no such feeling of security. There were major invasion scares in 1798 and 1803, prompting defensive measures, coastal fortifications and even plans to flood ...

Sex Sex Sex

Mark Kishlansky: Charles II, 27 May 2010

A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 580 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 0 571 21733 5
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... his life and his crown when he returned unarmed in 1660. It was the first of many gambles, in Jenny Uglow’s useful trope, and it was the one that hit the jackpot. The restoration was accomplished with unexpected ease. National anxiety dissipated as if a fresh wind had blown through a fetid swamp. Fears of risings, coups or assassination proved ...

Against Michelangelo

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Pinecone’, 11 October 2012

The Pinecone 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 332 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26950 1
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... peculiar and elusive the story of Losh’s life is from the scant biographical outline which Jenny Uglow has undertaken, with courage and considerable success, to try and fill in. What caught Pevsner’s eye, as it catches the eye of almost everyone who finds themselves in Wreay, was the parish church of St Mary, which stands in the centre of the ...

A Scene of Furniture

Rosemary Hill: Hogarth, 4 February 1999

Hogarth: A Life and a World 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 794 pp., £14.99, September 1998, 0 571 19376 5
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... satire, which drew harder, darker lines, telling us that we are all like that, given the chance. Uglow’s book takes us into this strange, deceptively familiar world. It is full of ‘intricacy’ in the sense the 18th century admired, the play of light and shade that makes the view properly complicated. Her dual themes – ‘life and world’ – are not ...

Learned Insane

Simon Schaffer: The Lunar Men, 17 April 2003

The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 588 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 571 19647 0
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... was printed it lacked all but the most rudimentary expressions of Enlightened doctrine. Now Jenny Uglow’s The Lunar Men, a collective biography of Erasmus Darwin and his extraordinary group of Midlands friends, announces its aim as the recovery of the repute and reality of their visionary milieu of science, industry and art from Romantic contempt ...

Were you a tome?

Matthew Bevis: Edward Lear, 14 December 2017

Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 608 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 571 26954 9
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... is full of mistakes that both the characters and their creator may or may not want to make, and Jenny Uglow’s absorbing new biography brings to the fore the question of the relation of his creativity to the accidence of his experience. In his diaries Lear often quotes or invokes his nonsense characters when talking about his own life, and ...


Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... a real place in Moorfields, where hacks worked in poverty on various ephemeral compilations. Jenny Uglow writes here about them, but her main interest is in Henry Fielding, who was not only a novelist, a playwright and a magistrate but a prolific high-class journalist and editor. In his day there were no book reviews as such, though books might be ...

Unruly Sweet Peas

Alison Light: Working-Class Gardens, 18 December 2014

The Gardens of the British Working Class 
by Margaret Willes.
Yale, 413 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 300 18784 7
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... the door; the grimmest slum has its musk in the shadowy courtyard or a pot draped with creeping jenny. The 19th-century press is full of notices of local flower shows, which attracted competitors from the roughest boroughs and the poorest villages; while in the 1840s official reports on the condition of handloom weavers in East London crowed at the dahlias ...

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