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Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele

6 April 1995
‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... The history of architecture is replete with figures whose careers were tied to the fortunes of great cities. John Nash’s genius for town-planning could only have flourished in London during the post-Waterloo boom years. Stanford White’s feeling for opulence fits the New York scene of the 1890s like an ...

Castaway

Roy Porter

4 March 1982
The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. I: 1750-1781 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 640 pp., £27.50, June 1979, 0 19 811863 5
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The Poems of William Cowper: Vol. 1 1748-1782 
edited by John Baird and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 500 pp., £25, September 1980, 0 19 811875 9
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. II: 1782-1786 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 640 pp., £27.50, June 1979, 0 19 811863 5
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... in rural retreat, he celebrated the chastising God’s rescue of a worthless sinner in his patchy series of Olney Hymns, written at the behest of his mentor, the ex-slave-trader-turned-gospeller, John Newton. But the spell of Evangelicalism soon broke (there are signs even in the hymns: ‘Oh! for a closer walk with God’). When the placebo of faith ceased to work as a specific against despair ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means

10 August 2016
Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... in real history (q.v. the break-up of the Beatles, the crippling of Apollo 13, the invasion of Cambodia) that becomes even grimmer in Means’s counterfactual telling. When ‘Hystopia’ starts, John F. Kennedy is still alive and is serving his third term as president. But after six unsuccessful assassination attempts, he’s slipped into the thrall of a death wish, which has him conducting coast ...

Radio Fun

Philip Purser

27 June 1991
A Social History of British Broadcasting. Vol. I: 1922-29, Serving the Nation 
by Paddy Scannell and David Cardiff.
Blackwell, 441 pp., £30, April 1991, 0 631 17543 1
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. III: Serious Pursuits, Communication and Education 
Harvester Wheatsheaf, 470 pp., £30, May 1991, 0 7450 0536 5Show More
The British Press and Broadcasting since 1945 
by Colin Seymour-Ure.
Blackwell, 269 pp., £29.95, May 1991, 9780631164432
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... Kingdom. He traces the emergence of mass entertainment, with broadcasting arriving almost last on the scene and at the time thought to offer the least prospect of affecting society. He reassesses John Logie Baird and John Reith. He turns up a quaint precursor of broadcasting, an entertainment telephone system, which flourished in but one city in the world, Budapest. Most pertinent to what we have ...

Accidents

Paul Foot

4 August 1988
Britain’s Nuclear Nightmare 
by James Cutler and Rob Edwards.
Sphere, 200 pp., £3.99, April 1988, 0 7221 2759 6
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... two men went to her house. Perhaps she is a fantasist? Perhaps she is, but when you put her story together with that of Hilda Murrell and William McRae it seems rather more credible. What about Vera Baird? She was the lawyer acting for LAND, Lincolnshire against Nuclear Dumping, which campaigned against the proposed NIREX site at Killingholme. Her car was broken into and her confidential papers stolen ...

Showers of Hats

Robert Baird: ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’

29 March 2017
Lincoln in the Bardo 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, March 2017, 978 1 4088 7174 4
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... together in that intimate way to which I am, as yet, a stranger’. Forget for a moment the strangeness of a scruple that finds its red line somewhere between marriage and the marriage bed. (Yes, John Ruskin, but this, we’re given to understand, was Vollman’s second wife.) What’s really odd is Vollman’s need to explain a 19th-century wedding in terms meant to flatter a 21st-century ...
7 December 1989
The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1788 
by John​ Brewer.
Unwin Hyman, 289 pp., £28, April 1989, 0 04 445292 6
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Cambridge in the Age of the Enlightenment: Science, Religion and Politics from the Restoration to the French Revolution 
by John​ Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £32.50, June 1989, 0 521 35139 1
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Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 
by C.A. Bayly.
Longman, 295 pp., £16.95, June 1989, 0 582 04287 9
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... and all three of them are tracts for the times in that they link its subsequent prominence and stability with Leviathan unbound rather than with an unusual degree of constitutional liberty. John Brewer’s paean to the ‘fiscal-military state’ is the most impressive analysis of the way 18th-century Britain actually worked since Lewis Namier anatomised its parliamentary and electoral ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream

23 October 2013
Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... army. Now, in 1944, at the age of 25, he wrote frankly about his experience as a gay man and rejected Macdonald’s advice to publish under a pseudonym. His admission drew much attention, and caused John Crowe Ransom to retract his acceptance of one of Duncan’s poems for the Kenyon Review. The essay was also notable for its earnest protest against the ‘cult of homosexual superiority’, a volley ...
3 July 1997
... winnowing still leaves the universe electric with civilisations: a thousand or so cultures advanced to the standard of Einstein or Jeffrey Archer in this galaxy alone. So where are they all? When John Logie Baird invented television, he also invented a microwave messaging system broadcast through interstellar space. For forty years, programmes like I Love Lucy and Rawhide and Dynasty have been ...

Uppity Trumpet of the Living Light

Barbara Newman: Hildegard of Bingen

20 January 2000
Secrets of God: Writings of Hildegard of Bingen 
edited by Sabina Flanagan.
Shambhala, 186 pp., £10.99, August 1998, 1 57062 164 0
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The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen: Vol. II 
translated by Joseph Baird.
Oxford, 215 pp., £36, October 1998, 0 19 512010 8
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Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources 
edited by Anna Silvas.
Pennsylvania State, 299 pp., £15.50, September 1998, 0 271 01954 9
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Physica 
by Hildegard of Bingen, translated by Priscilla Throop.
Healing Art, 250 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 89281 661 9
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On Natural Philosophy and Medicine 
by Hildegard of Bingen, translated by Margret Berger.
Brewer, 166 pp., £12.99, July 1999, 0 85991 551 4
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... By the time the nuns of Eibingen had received 150,000 guests in six months, they decided that it was time to pull down their cowshed and build a visitors’ centre. At the Vatican, however, Pope John Paul II disregarded a petition to complete Hildegard’s formal canonisation process (aborted in 1243) and declare her a doctor of the Church. Evidently, this most uppity of medieval women is not a ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland

30 July 1998
... lieutenant was the young David Trimble. By 1976 the VUPP’s leader had softened to the extent of advocating a coalition with the Nationalist SDLP. This was too much for his deputy leader, Ernest Baird, who broke away to found the UUUM with the aim of promoting Unionist unity. Failing abjectly in this, the UUUM evolved into the UUUP. The UUUP should not be confused with UUUC, an earlier alliance of ...

Dunbar’s Disappearance

Sally Mapstone: William Dunbar

24 May 2001
The Poems of William Dunbar 
edited by Priscilla Bawcutt.
Association for Scottish Literary Studies, £70, May 1999, 0 948877 38 3
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... emetic known as flyting: Mauch muttoun, byt buttoun, peilit gluttoun, air to Hilhous, Rank beggar, ostir dregar, flay fleggar in the flet. Chittirlilling, ruch rilling, lik schilling in the milhous, Baird rehator, theif of nator, fals tratour, feyindis gett, Filling of tauch, rak sauch, cry crauch, thow art oursett! (Maggotty sheep, button biter, wiped out glutton, Hilihouse’s heir, wasted beggar ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... sing. Not wanting to set sail on a sea of cellophane she banned all wrappings for the flowers.Unattributed, I lifted a detail of her life for my play People. Years ago a neighbour in London, Josie Baird, who had worked at the British Museum copying their jewellery, was asked by Chatsworth to do the same for them. Debo told her to nose around the house to see if she could find anything worth ...

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