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Boswell’s Bowels

Neal Ascherson

20 December 1984
James Boswell: The Later Years 1769-1795 
by Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 609 pp., £20, November 1984, 0 434 08530 8
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... of Parliament, but was altogether too independent and alarming to win the support of enough of the Ayrshire gentry. He courted a variety of patrons, ending up late in his life with the ogreish Lord Lonsdale, but Boswell was simply incapable of maintaining the required servility for long enough. The tension between London and Edinburgh, duty and delight, became increasingly hard to bear, and the culture ...


John​ Mullan: Fanny Burney

23 August 2001
Fanny Burney: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny Burney: Her Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... indefatigable efforts at self-advancement was replaced by her Memoirs of Dr Burney (1832), a canonisation of him and a celebration of her own literary career. (‘Fanny’s last novel’, Roger Lonsdale called it in his biography of Charles Burney.) Yet she recovered and left to us a hoard of paper that makes Burney a biographer’s dream: the letters and journals that she lugged back and forth ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year

8 January 2004
... sense of impotence is what one never gets used to, of being led into ignominy and not being able to do anything about it except march and, one day, vote. 22 April, Yorkshire. Drive up towards Kirkby Lonsdale then along Wandales Lane, the old Roman road from Burrow to Sedbergh. Walking down one of the green lanes below the fells we come across a fold with a stone stile and in the centre of the fold a ...


Barbara Everett

17 October 1985
Alexander Pope 
by Maynard Mack.
Yale, 975 pp., £15.95, August 1985, 0 300 03391 5
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Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’ 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Allen and Unwin, 250 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 04 800017 5
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The Last and Greatest Art: Some Unpublished Poetical Manuscripts of Alexander Pope 
by Maynard Mack.
Associated University Presses, 454 pp., £48.95, June 1984, 0 87413 183 9
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The New Oxford Book of 18th-Century Verse 
by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 870 pp., £15, November 1984, 0 19 214122 8
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Collected in Himself: Essays Critical, Biographical and Bibliographical on Pope and Some of his Contemporaries 
by Maynard Mack.
Associated University Presses, 569 pp., £26.50, March 1983, 0 87413 182 0
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... thus merging two writers who seem to me radically unlike; uses a line from Shakespeare’s sonnets, ‘in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes’, to gloss the equally unShakespearian critic John Dennis in his brutal, difficult, intelligent and tragic old age; and trails a hash of Dylan Thomas’s resonant phrases (‘those short days when Time lets us play and be/golden in the mercy of his ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004

6 January 2005
... have at L’Etoile we always told each other the same stories. They were generally of Alan’s romantic escapades or of other people’s bad behaviour, a favourite being how, after a performance in John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me at Chichester for which he had been much praised, Alan was sitting in his dressing-room when there was a tentative knock on the door. It was Alec Guinness. He shook Alan ...

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