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Golden Dolly

John Pemble: Rich Britons

24 September 2009
Who Were the Rich? A Biographical Directory of British Wealth-Holders. Vol. I: 1809-39 
by William Rubinstein.
Social Affairs Unit, 516 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 904863 39 7
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... a touring Irish company, and she’d caught the eye of Thomas Coutts after she’d graduated to Drury Lane and was performing for Sheridan on £12 a week. They married after the death of his first wife (the mother of his daughters) in 1815, when she was 37 and he was 79. She was trounced as a predator and lampooned as a parvenue. Disraeli portrayed her as ...

Eros and Hogarth

Robert Melville

20 August 1981
Hogarth 
by David Bindman.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 9780500201824
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... David Bindman does not think that Hogarth was joking when he gave one of his contemporaries, John Nichols, a comic demonstration of minimalism: it took the form of a diagram composed of three lines and he claimed that it contained his memory of ‘a Sergeant with his pike going into an Ale House, and his Dog following ...

Posthumous Gentleman

Michael Dobson: Kit Marlowe’s Schooldays

19 August 2004
The World of Christopher Marlowe 
by David Riggs.
Faber, 411 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 571 22159 9
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Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground 
by Roy Kendall.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 453 pp., $75, January 2004, 0 8386 3974 7
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Tamburlaine Must Die 
by Louise Welsh.
Canongate, 149 pp., £9.99, July 2004, 1 84195 532 9
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History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe 
by Rodney Bolt.
HarperCollins, 388 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 00 712123 7
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... of how a degree-less provincial could match university-educated courtly playwrights such as John Lyly at their own game. The other writer, however, dealt with French current affairs and the social position of education in a different manner: GUISE: My Lord of Anjou, there are a hundred Protestants Which we have chased into the river Seine That swim ...
17 October 1985
A Maggot 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 460 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 224 02806 5
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The Romances of John Fowles 
by Simon Loveday.
Macmillan, 164 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 333 31518 9
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... skinhead, did not his clothes deny it.’ That quotation well illustrates the style in which John Fowles begins this historical novel, or mystery story, lingering over his descriptions. The reviewer-like use of the present tense, the schoolmasterly ‘not what it means today’, and the reference to ‘a modern skinhead’, invite readers to visualise ...

At the Hop

Sukhdev Sandhu

20 February 1997
Black England: Life before Emancipation 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 7195 5251 6
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Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 
by Norma Myers.
Cass, 162 pp., £27.50, July 1996, 0 7146 4576 1
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... with a touch’) and they themselves were advertised: ‘To be SOLD. A Black Girl, the Property of John Bull, Eleven Years of Age, who is extremely handy, works at her Needle tolerably, and speaks English perfectly well. Enquire of Mrs Owen, at the Angel Inn, behind St Clement’s Church, the Strand.’ Huge, ornate images of negroes were displayed outside ...

With Great Stomack

Simon Schaffer: Christopher Wren

21 February 2002
His Invention so Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 463 pp., £25, July 2001, 9780224042987
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... detail, of diaries or intimate correspondence. There is no easy opportunity of the kind offered by John Evelyn or Samuel Pepys, his contemporaries, to explore details of Wren’s domestic affairs or private reflections. Tinniswood’s Wren is a thoroughly public figure: Tory MP, wealthy knight and brilliant don, agile at winning backing from hostile ...

Something for Theresa May to think about

John Barrell: The Bow Street Runners

7 June 2012
The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 272 pp., £65, February 2012, 978 0 19 969516 4
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... most of the work: the cause of criminality, Theresa May was arguing, was criminality itself. Boris Johnson was quick to agree. When did it become a test of ideological purity to be able to say with a straight face that poverty and unemployment have nothing to do with the causes of crime? Who was the first politician to argue (if it can be called an ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine

20 October 1994
Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... Cruickshank, Rowlandson and Dent; and portrayed by Romney, Beechey, Hoppner, Matthew Peters and John Russell. Nor has she been entirely forgotten by posterity. To be sure, she was not even mentioned by name in Percy Fitzgerald’s two-volume life of King William IV, published in 1884. But she merited an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, there ...

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. Pentecost’s witnesses said Tanner couldn’t be trusted: he was ‘a poore needy fellow’ with ‘a little cottage of his owne to dwell in … and noe other meanes to live ...

Pity the monsters

Richard Altick

18 December 1980
The Elephant Man 
by Bernard Pomerance.
Faber, 71 pp., £2.25, June 1980, 0 571 11569 1
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The Elephant Man: the Book of the Film 
by Joy Kuhn.
Virgin, 90 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 9780907080091
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The Elephant Man 
by Christine Sparks.
Futura, 272 pp., £1.25, August 1980, 0 7088 1942 7
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The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences 
by Frederick Treves.
Star, 126 pp., £95, August 1980, 0 352 30747 1
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The Elephant Man and Other Freaks 
by Sian Richards.
Futura, 197 pp., £1.25, October 1980, 0 7088 1927 3
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The True History of the Elephant Man 
by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.
Allison and Busby, 190 pp., £6.95, March 1980, 0 85031 353 8
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... dress suit. It might almost be mistaken for the dénouement of an early Sherlock Holmes story: Dr John H. Watson describing the scene in an East End police station when Holmes literally unmasks the man with an old scar running across his face from eye to chin which turned up his lip into a perpetual grimace, a ‘crippled wretch of hideous aspect’ who hid ...

Bransonism

Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London

17 March 2005
Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... book would have been unputdownable. He corresponded extensively with Pope and Richardson. He gave John Gay a job on his periodical The British Apollo when the future Scriblerian was newly arrived in London from Devon, and was an early and influential advocate of the Scottish poets Mallett and Thomson (the bardic conception of the poet’s role elaborated in ...

May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters

8 September 2011
The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... darkest period of his mourning. The volume includes letters to Joseph Priestley, Thomas Lawrence, John Thelwall, Samuel Parr (‘the Whig Dr Johnson’), the great liberal advocate Thomas Erskine, R.B. Sheridan, Charles James Fox, the novelists and dramatists Elizabeth Inchbald, Thomas Holcroft, Amelia Alderson, Mary Hays ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case

19 October 2006
Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... and Hammerstein) in New York, she was invited to star in The King and I and did so at Drury Lane. Profumo did not immediately gain office when Churchill won the 1951 election, but a year later he became parliamentary undersecretary at the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation. While he was still at that ministry and Valerie was still at ...

The crime was the disease

Mike Jay: ‘Mad-Doctors in the Dock’

14 June 2017
Mad-Doctors in the Dock: Defending the Diagnosis, 1760-1913 
by Joel Peter Eigen.
Johns Hopkins, 206 pp., £29.50, September 2016, 978 1 4214 2048 6
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... really launches his narrative is that of James Hadfield, who on 15 May 1800 was arrested in the Drury Lane Theatre after firing a pistol at George III as he was blowing a kiss to his subjects from the royal box. There was no question that Hadfield had acted with deadly intent. He had loaded his pistols carefully and aimed like the ex-soldier he was; his ...

You Have Never Written Better

Benjamin Markovits: Byron’s Editor

20 March 2008
The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron 
edited by Andrew Nicholson.
Liverpool, 576 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 1 84631 069 0
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... The relationship between Byron and his editor John Murray lasted a little over ten years. It began in March 1812 with the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which made Byron’s name. (‘I awoke one morning and found myself famous,’ he famously wrote, or is said to have written.) It ended twice: first, in the winter of 1822, when, after a number of disagreements and misunderstandings, Byron transferred his business to the publisher John Hunt; and finally in the spring of 1824, when Murray presided over the destruction of Byron’s memoirs, which he had not read, in his rooms at 50 Albemarle Street ...

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