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A Good Reason to Murder Your Landlady

Terry Eagleton: I.A. Richards, 25 April 2002

I.A. Richards: Selected Works 1919-38 
edited by John Constable.
Routledge, 595 pp., December 2001, 0 415 21731 8
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... and rule-governed, then the fact that I can’t read Treasure Island without visualising Long John Silver as a one-legged version of my grandmother is of interest only to my psychotherapist and myself. Richards’s thought here is bedevilled by the word ‘experience’, which tempts us to model non-sensory activities on sensory ones, as though reading a ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... John Taylor, the journalist, newspaper editor and poet, was born in 1757. His grandfather, the legendary ‘Chevalier’ Taylor, had been oculist to George II, and afterwards, so his grandson assures us, to ‘every crowned head in Europe’. He was as famous for his womanising as for his knowledge of ophthalmology, but most famous, perhaps, for his habit of prefacing every operation he performed with a long speech in praise of his own skill, composed in what he claimed was ‘the true Ciceronian’, with each main verb cunningly held back to the end of the sentence ...

As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown, 5 January 2012

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... In the summer of 1771 William Constable had just returned to Burton Constable, his house in the East Riding of Yorkshire, after a lavish Grand Tour. He and his sister Winifred had spent £7000 and came home laden with pictures, sculptures, books and miscellaneous antiquities. Constable now regarded himself as a connoisseur or, as he put it, ‘a bit of a Vertu ...

To Be Worth Forty Shillings

Jonah Miller: Early Modern Inequality, 2 February 2017

Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status and the Social Order in Early Modern England 
by Alexandra Shepard.
Oxford, 357 pp., £65, February 2015, 978 0 19 960079 3
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... What are yow​ worthe in goodes if all your debtes were payd?’ John Tanner was asked in 1620 when he appeared as a witness at the church court in Chichester. ‘Twenty shillings,’ he answered. He had been called by one Robert Constable to support a case for defamation against Stephen Pentecost ...

Connections

Colin Wallace, 8 October 1992

The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland 
by Steve Bruce.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 215961 5
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... Perhaps the best example of this is the investigation carried out by Manchester Deputy Chief Constable, John Stalker, into an alleged ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in Northern Ireland. In January 1988, the then Attorney-General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, told the Commons that, given certain ‘considerations of national ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Windsor Girls School on 22 June, 4 July 1985

... campaigner and local Labour Party member, read some of her poems, including a rumbustious reply to John Betjeman which she called ‘In Praise of Slough’ – ‘those bombs aren’t such a huge joke any more.’ The main session over, we were offered Judith Chernaik on Shelley’s feminism or Elma Dangerfield on Byron and Shelley or Marilyn Butler on the ...

Burying Scott

Marilyn Butler, 7 September 1995

The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 1 55786 231 1
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... John Sutherland’s pithy, cynical Life of Scott is very much a biography of our time: irreverent, streetwise, set foursquare in a ‘real world’ in which careers achieve money and power and character is at least 51 per cent image. In its worldly wisdom it resembles the first of its kind, John Gibson Lockhart’s pioneering five-volume Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott (1837-8), though the drift of the two Lives is in opposite directions ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: War Talk, 6 February 2003

... to consolidate his place in the history books as Britain’s greatest wartime Prime Minister since John Major, shipping our boys out to the Gulf, boots or no boots, his rhetoric at least is wearing steel toe caps. ‘We are going to be in the front line of this whatever happens,’ he told the Commons Liaison Committee, meaning not, as you might think, that ...

Particularly Anodyne

Richard Norton-Taylor: One bomb in London, 15 July 2021

The Intelligence War against the IRA 
by Thomas Leahy.
Cambridge, 356 pp., £18.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 72040 3
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... guardsmen and their horses in the royal parks. A missile fired from a truck and narrowly missing John Major’s cabinet in Downing Street was met with astonishment as much as alarm. The IRA had come to learn that one bomb in London had more impact than ten in Northern Ireland. Yet since it concentrated on commercial targets in the City, where its attacks had ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... There are two British world-class painters, Turner and Constable; but there are a number of others – at least as original and interesting as their contemporaries on the Continent – who created the English School of painting in the first two thirds of the 18th century. Starting with Hogarth, the first major native-born painter, they can be roughly divided into those who followed academic precepts, often slavishly but sometimes imaginatively (Reynolds, Wilson, Barry and West), and those whose paintings were, in important ways, anti-academic, or ‘English’: Hogarth himself, Zoffany, Wright of Derby, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Rowlandson and Blake ...

Real Power

Conrad Russell, 7 August 1986

Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 
by David Underdown.
Oxford, 324 pp., £17.50, November 1985, 0 19 822795 7
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The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics 
by David Starkey.
George Philip, 174 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 540 01093 6
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... ask who was Groom of the Stool: Professor Underdown, faced with the same task, will ask who was constable of Batcombe. Both of them will then do a first-class piece of research answering their chosen question. Yet the really big decision, the choice of the field for investigation, is one which appears to both of them to be so obvious as to stand in no need ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... again. Some time in the next few weeks Baden Henry Skitt, former Scotland Yard Commander and Chief Constable of Hertfordshire, now a chief investigator for the Criminal Cases Review Commission, will draft a public statement on the A6 murder, for which James Hanratty was hanged in 1962. The Commission chairman, Sir Frederick Crawford, has hinted to the House of ...

Agreeing with Berger

Peter Campbell, 19 March 1987

Ways of Telling: The Work of John Berger 
by Geoff Dyer.
Pluto, 186 pp., £4.95, December 1986, 0 7453 0097 9
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... John Berger is 60. He is not forgotten. Permanent Red, his criticism from the Fifties, is in print. Ways of Seeing is the antidote put in the hands of students who have drunk too deeply of Courtauld art history. His novels, too, have created a stir. His first, A Painter of Our Time, had such vitriolic reviews that the publishers withdrew it, and G won the Booker Prize: Berger’s hard swallow on that sugarplum made him briefly notorious ...

The Great Business

Nicholas Penny, 21 March 1985

Art of the 19th Century: Painting and Sculpture 
by Robert Rosenblum and H.W. Janson.
Thames and Hudson, 527 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 500 23385 3
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Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of 19th-Century Art 
by Charles Rosen and Henri Zerner.
Faber, 244 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 571 13332 0
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Géricault: His Life and Work 
by Lorenz Eitner.
Orbis, 376 pp., £40, March 1983, 0 85613 384 1
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Tradition and Desire: From David to Delacroix 
by Norman Bryson.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £27.50, August 1984, 0 521 24193 6
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... period. By the mid-century touring exhibitions were taking some popular English pictures such as John Martin’s Great Day of his Wrath as far as America. Frith’s Derby Day even reached Australia. Hyperbolic publicity was circulated which boasted of the time consumed in making these pictures, the painstaking search for ‘authenticity’, the number of ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... family, after the takeover of the firm by Smith, Elder & Co (itself soon to be taken over by John Murray). A descendant – loyally named Richard Bentley – had lovingly conserved and catalogued them for posterity. In 1967, the BL acquired a tranche of early Macmillan papers: Harold Macmillan, it seems, was keen that the family firm’s archive should ...

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