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This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow, 1 October 1998

The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... John Hanbury Angus Sparrow (1906-92) was a devotee of the poetry of A.E. Housman. He wrote a vivid introduction to Housman’s verse, whose tight control, both of metre and of homosexual passion, found obvious echoes in his own character. Sparrow was also co-author of A.E. Housman: An Annotated Hand-List, one of the few excursions into modern bibliography made by this great collector, 17th century bibliographer and connoisseur of Renaissance Latin, who counselled aspiring bibliomaniacs: (1) never lend anyone a book; (2) never sell a book; (3) never give anyone a book; (4) never read a book ...

I’m all for it

R.W. Johnson, 30 March 2000

Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII 
by John Cornwall.
Viking, 430 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 670 87620 8
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... Later we had other Popes who, we were told, were also jolly good, but even the warm feeling about John XXIII never approached the devotional cult around Pius XII. There was a sense of real surprise that he wasn’t beatified and canonised as soon as he died. The nuns had told us that he couldn’t officially be declared a saint while he was alive but once he ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands, 5 March 2015

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... new book explores an idea as much as it explores a country. It journeys westward through Cornwall from Bodmin Moor to Scilly, alighting on the rocky eminences where granite has boiled up through the Earth’s crust and crystallised into highlands and headlands. It’s rugged country, raked by south-westerlies ‘bred of the Atlantic’ and eaten at ...

No Sense of an Ending

Jane Eldridge Miller, 21 September 1995

Windows on Modernism: Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson 
edited by Gloria Fromm.
Georgia, 696 pp., £58.50, February 1995, 0 8203 1659 8
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... her husband moved three times a year. Every autumn, they settled in a primitive rented cottage in Cornwall, where Richardson was responsible for shopping, cooking and cleaning, as well as for her own and her husband’s sizeable correspondence. In the spring, Richardson would pack up their belongings and they would move to nearby lodgings for a few ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture, 11 September 2008

Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... village and handicrafts exhibition promised another souvenir linen tea towel. Sometimes it was Cornwall; sometimes Scotland; sometimes Wales; and sometimes it was the long drive across Wales to Fishguard and the night ferry to Ireland. My anoraks gradually accumulated shiny stick-on plastic arm badges from each of these misty regions, but whenever I ...

Bad John

Alan Bennett: John Osborne, 3 December 1981

A Better Class of Person 
by John Osborne.
Faber, 285 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 571 11785 6
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... One of John Osborne’s Thoughts for 1954: ‘The urge to please above all. I don’t have it and can’t achieve it. A small thing but more or less mine own.’ This book does please and has pleased. It is immensely enjoyable, is written with great gusto and Osborne has had better notices for it than for any of his plays since Inadmissible Evidence ...

End of Story

Robert Taubman, 20 November 1980

A Humument 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 367 pp., £12, October 1980, 0 500 09146 3
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The Past 
by Neil Jordan.
Cape, 232 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 224 01845 0
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Black Tickets 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Allen Lane, 194 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1354 1
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... and grandparents. In June 1914 Michael and Una O’Shaughnessy have a reason for their stay in Cornwall: to conceal the date of birth of their child, conceived out of wedlock. This child is Rene, who grows up in Dublin, Bray and Sandymount in the 1920s. In 1934 she is an actress in a touring company and two men are in love with her, a photographer James ...

Bert’s Needs

Patricia Beer, 25 March 1993

Lawrence’s Women: The Intimate Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Elaine Feinstein.
HarperCollins, 275 pp., £18, January 1993, 0 00 215364 5
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... relationship with Lawrence. The most important of these was the time in 1916 when Katherine and John Middleton Murry were persuaded to take a house next to the Lawrences in north Cornwall. The couples had known each other for some while; Katherine and Murry had been at the Lawrences’ wedding two years earlier. Among the ...

Shedding one’s sicknesses

Patrick Parrinder, 20 November 1986

The Injured Party 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 241 11946 4
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Expensive Habits 
by Maureen Howard.
Viking, 268 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 670 81291 9
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... she is discharged and sent home, she takes to her bed and refuses to speak. Only the arrival of John, her ex-lover, who is himself dying from a degenerative disease, can rouse her from this trance. Getting ill in one’s forties, for Schaeffer, is a form of memento mori. In the hospital, Iris ‘was forced to ask herself what meaning her life had, and if it ...

The Strange Case of John Bampfylde

Roger Lonsdale, 3 March 1988

... If John Bampfylde has any continuing public existence, it must be as the man on the right in this unusual double portrait by Joshua Reynolds. An interested enquirer might learn that Bampfylde was a minor poet of the later 18th century and, in the absence of much hard information, encounter what is scarcely more than a striking anecdote of frustrated love and subsequent insanity ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson, 20 November 2008

... in the company of other English artists who dipped into abstraction and then out again (as John Piper did) or who abandoned impressionistic realism of a traditional sort for it (as Victor Pasmore did). None of them in doing this lost a craftsmanlike pleasure in things well and carefully made. That may be why it is almost as easy to relate the look of ...

The Limit

Rosemary Hill, 2 November 1995

Christopher Wood: An English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... felt sorry for her ‘at the end’, and the very end, her death alone in a fire at her studio in Cornwall, was pathetic. The less strong-minded Wood pursued his short, highly-coloured career along a butterfly zigzag from place to place and style to style, his suicide at 29 marking an even more unhappy failure of art to compensate for life. By March 1921 Wood ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland, 19 July 2012

... subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as John Brewer emphasises in his catalogue essay, the Tour was more socially mixed than it might appear. Basset, the biggest spender among the consigners to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the beneficiary of a recent family fortune made from Cornish ...

Puffed up, Slapped down

Rosemary Hill: Charles and Camilla, 6 September 2017

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life 
by Sally Bedell Smith.
Michael Joseph, 624 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 7181 8780 4
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The Duchess: The Untold Story 
by Penny Junor.
William Collins, 320 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 0 00 821100 4
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... biographies (of the queen and Princess Diana). Junor, however, is a career journalist, daughter of John Junor, the former editor in chief of the Sunday Express, and she is much closer to her material. She has written two lives of Charles and one each of Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as a group portrait of ‘the troubled life of the House of ...

Eye-Catchers

Peter Campbell, 4 December 1986

Survey of London: Vol. XLII. Southern Kensington: Kensington to Earls Court 
Athlone, 502 pp., £55, May 1986, 0 485 48242 8Show More
Follies: A National Trust Guide 
by Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp.
Cape, 564 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 224 02105 2
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The Botanists 
by David Elliston Allen.
St Paul’s Bibliographies, 232 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 906795 36 2
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British Art since 1900 
by Frances Spalding.
Thames and Hudson, 252 pp., £10.50, April 1986, 0 500 23457 4
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Paintings from Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1900 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 527 pp., £55, March 1986, 0 8142 0380 9
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History of the British Pig 
by John Wiseman.
Duckworth, 118 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780715619872
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... elevations of Launceton Place (1840-3) gave way to cliffs of Italianate stucco (like Cornwall Gardens, late 1860s) and the red-and-yellow-brick mansion blocks of the 1880s and 1890s. These now dominate: this is Victorian London. Among the more remarkable buildings are the department stores (Derry and Toms and Barkers) and the houses in Harrington ...

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