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Fear the fairies

John Gallagher: Early Modern Sleepe, 18 May 2017

Sleep in Early Modern England 
by Sasha Handley.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, August 2016, 978 0 300 22039 1
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... often.’ Margery Dayrell worried that her son Nathaniel could not sleep, though he was drowsy. John Windmill complained that he ‘cannot sleepe nor take any rest on his bed or up or Downe’. Hugh Thomson feared that his son, ‘who he supposeth to be taken or planet stroken’, had been unable to sleep the previous night. Broken and disrupted sleep could ...

Elzābet of Anletār

John Gallagher, 22 September 2016

This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... and pray to saints,’ implying that they could be seen as more Catholic than Protestant. Bishop John Aylmer was worried by the hard-won ‘capitulations’ that officially established Anglo-Ottoman trading relations, confessing that ‘surely in mine opinion it is very strange, and dangerous, that the desire of worldly and transitory things should carry men ...

Making a Mouth in a Contemptuous Manner

John Gallagher: Civility Held Sway, 4 July 2019

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Yale, 457 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 23577 7
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... by life in small groups and communities.’ In spite of the scepticism of their betters – John Locke thought that ‘a middle-aged plough-man’ could ‘scarce ever be brought to the carriage … of a gentleman, though his body be as well proportioned, and his joints as supple’ – it’s clear to anyone who’s read the words of the ‘lesser ...

Where wolf?

John Gallagher: Everyone knows I’m a werewolf, 7 April 2022

Old Thiess, a Livonian Werewolf: A Classic Case in Comparative Perspective 
by Carlo Ginzburg and Bruce Lincoln.
Chicago, 289 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 0 226 67441 4
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... and his fellow werewolves would assume lupine form three times a year – around Pentecost Eve, St John’s Eve and St Lucy’s Eve. Together, they would journey on foot to Hell, which could be entered through a local swamp. Hell itself was invisible to others, Thiess said, since it was beneath the ground and its entrance could be seen only by those who ...

As the Priest Said to the Nun

John Gallagher: A Town that Ran on Talk, 1 June 2023

The Talk of the Town: Information and Community in 16th-Century Switzerland 
by Carla Roth.
Oxford, 164 pp., £75, February 2022, 978 0 19 284645 7
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... Inside​ the manuscript that contains the 16th-century protocols of the council of St Gall, in Switzerland, is a poem that offers helpful advice. ‘Oh man, think long,’ the anonymous poet urges, ‘before talk escapes your mouth.’ If you want to be successful, you need to learn to ‘speak thoughtfully, without anger and hatred … Listening quickly and answering slowly ...

Shriek of the Milkman

John Gallagher: London Hawking, 2 November 2023

Street Food: Hawkers and the History of London 
by Charlie Taverner.
Oxford, 256 pp., £30, January, 978 0 19 284694 5
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... the Victorian city. But not everything had moved on since the 16th-century martyrologist John Foxe described the only lights on London Bridge and some of the capital’s streets as coming from the candles of costermongers trading along the way. For a long time, even as London changed, hawkers traversed the city and fed its residents in ways that kept ...

How to Read Aloud

Irina Dumitrescu, 10 September 2020

Voices and Books in the English Renaissance: A New History of Reading 
by Jennifer Richards.
Oxford, 329 pp., £65, October 2019, 978 0 19 880906 7
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Learning Languages in Early Modern England 
by John Gallagher.
Oxford, 274 pp., £60, August 2019, 978 0 19 883790 9
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... that good writing could be killed by poor delivery. Richards quotes a poem by the Elizabethan wit John Harington, complaining that someone had read his epigram with ‘point so perverse’ that in the end it seemed ‘neither witty nor a verse’.The formatting choices made by authors and printers are suggestive, but remain open to interpretation. In ...

All the world’s a spy novel

Michael Wood: What Didn’t Happen, 30 July 2020

Counterfactuals: Paths of the Might Have Been 
by Christopher Prendergast.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £19.99, February 2019, 978 1 350 09009 5
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Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 359 pp., £26.50, January 2018, 978 0 226 51241 9
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... we may well think that they also serve who only sit and sleep. For both Prendergast and Catherine Gallagher, the counterfactual is not any old fantasy but an alarm call for those who have been sleeping too long or too comfortably. There are attractions and risks in reaching for such an instrument. The might-have-been may offer ‘the perfume of the ...

These people are intolerable

Richard J. Evans: Hitler and Franco, 5 November 2015

Hitler’s Shadow Empire: Nazi Economics and the Spanish Civil War 
by Pierpaolo Barbieri.
Harvard, 349 pp., £22.95, April 2015, 978 0 674 72885 1
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... with references to the idea of ‘informal empire’ as developed by the British historians John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson in the early 1950s, but their famous article was actually about what they called ‘the imperialism of free trade’: free trade guaranteed the British world economic dominance because they had exclusive control of the high ...

A Chance for the Irish Right

John Horgan, 21 April 1983

The Irish Labour Party in Transition 1957-82 
by Michael Gallagher.
Manchester, 326 pp., £19.50, January 1983, 0 7190 0866 2
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... categories of political analysis: no wonder the authors of one 1976 study quoted by Michael Gallagher in this valuable book described Ireland as a ‘persistent deviant case’: i.e. they could not understand it. A few concrete examples from recent events may help to confuse the issue even further. Item: a government whose leader is pledged to a ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

... It​ was John who had the idea that I should say something about his professional life at his funeral. It was a very nice idea and I’m glad – not to say flattered – that he had it. But I found it a spookily hard thing to do. ‘Spooky’ because every time I thought I had a point to make I heard myself checking it with John – ‘Is that right?’ ‘Can I say that?’ ‘Does that make sense?’ – and then I began to understand what had happened to all of us ...

Ye must all be alike

Catherine Gallagher, 27 January 1994

Writing Women in Jacobean England 
by Barbara Kiefer Lewalski.
Harvard, 431 pp., £35.95, February 1993, 0 674 96242 7
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... important courtiers and patrons of the period, using her paternal family connections to promote John Donne, among others, and participating in literary exchanges with her clients. The cultural prestige of these ladies in turn inspired Aemelia Lanyer, a commoner, to seek their patronage for her own poetry, which celebrated women’s virtues. Another ...

How to Plan an Insurrection

Niamh Gallagher: Appropriating James Connolly, 30 November 2023

James Connolly: Socialist, Nationalist and Internationalist 
by Liam McNulty.
Merlin, 398 pp., £25, December 2022, 978 0 85036 783 6
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... for his next venture, in Ireland. Despite his background, his move there in 1896 was coincidental. John Leslie appealed in the SDF’s paper, Justice, for a socialist organisation to hire Connolly, who was facing destitution, and a job offer came from the Dublin Socialist Club at the modest salary of £1 per week. His time in Ireland would help shape his ...

What the doctor said

Edna Longley, 22 March 1990

A New Path to the Waterfall 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins Harvill, 158 pp., £11, September 1989, 0 00 271043 9
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by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, September 1989, 0 571 14167 6
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Poems 1954-1987 
by Peter Redgrove.
Penguin, 228 pp., £5.99, August 1989, 0 14 058641 5
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The First Earthquake 
by Peter Redgrove.
Secker, 76 pp., £7.50, August 1989, 0 436 41006 0
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Mount Eagle 
by John Montague.
Bloodaxe, 75 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 1 85224 090 3
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The Wreck of the Archangel 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 116 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 7195 4750 4
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The Perfect Man 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Abacus, 96 pp., £3.99, November 1989, 0 349 10122 1
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... and speech takes one form and no other.’ Let the theorists make of that what they will. Tess Gallagher, Carver’s widow and partner in an intense literary enterprise (she moved in the opposite direction, from poems to stories), has collated his last book. Her introduction stresses that poetry was always on the horizon for him. Carver ...

What Fred Did

Owen Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland, 22 January 2015

... sending the message stating that “our war is over” which started the correspondence with John Major, and it is pretty clear in retrospect that one of the intermediaries in the chain between the government and the IRA did in fact embellish the message.’ The peace process, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff is suggesting, began with an ...

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