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Floreat Eltona

David Starkey, 19 January 1984

Tudor Rule and Revolution: Essays for G.R. Elton from his American Friends 
edited by DeLloyd Guth and John McKenna.
Cambridge, 418 pp., £27.50, February 1983, 0 521 24841 8
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Essays on Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government. Vol III: Papers and Reviews 1973-1981 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 512 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 521 24893 0
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Which road to the past? Two Views of History 
by Robert William Fogel and G.R. Elton.
Yale, 136 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 300 03011 8
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... government. And in the best essay in the volume – full of substance yet light in manner – John McKenna attacks Elton in the nicest possible way from the other end, by showing how the principal features of the ‘revolutionised’ 16th-century state – nationalism, the imperial crown and reform – were all present in 15th-century England and ...

Shaved, Rouged and Chignoned

Terry Eagleton: Fanny and Stella, 7 March 2013

Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England 
by Neil McKenna.
Faber, 396 pp., £16.99, February 2013, 978 0 571 23190 4
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... and the ‘gaggles of Mary-Anns waggling their scrawny arses up and down the street’, as Neil McKenna depicts them in his tiresomely spiced-up style, could be remarkably cordial. According to one Victorian writer, a ‘notorious and shameless poof’ married a street woman and fathered two sons with her, both of whom followed in their father’s ...

Standing on the Wharf, Weeping

Greg Dening: Australia, 25 September 2003

The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £45, September 2002, 0 521 80343 8
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Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place 
by Mark McKenna.
New South Wales, 268 pp., £14.50, August 2002, 0 86840 644 9
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Words for Country: Landscape and Language in Australia 
by Tim Bonyhady and Tom Griffiths.
New South Wales, 253 pp., £15.50, October 2001, 0 86840 628 7
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The Land Is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia 
edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges and Jane Simpson.
Pandanus, 304 pp., AUS $39.95, October 2002, 1 74076 020 4
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... our personal and social selves. The Mabo papers are a triumph for a land imprinted with memory. John Gascoigne’s The Enlightenment and the Origins of European Australia is concerned with the imprint of a ‘European’ spirit on Australia between 1788 and 1850. There is a difficulty, however, in describing this transposed culture, which ceases to be ...

Cursing and Breast-Beating

Ross McKibbin: Manning Clark’s Legacy, 23 February 2012

An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark 
by Mark McKenna.
Miegunyah, 793 pp., £57.95, May 2011, 978 0 522 85617 0
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... arrangements Australia had inherited. Above all, in the minds of such conservatives as John Howard, it was designed to maximise Anglo-Australia’s guilt for what happened to the Aborigines; something for which late 20th-century Australians could not be held responsible. This was the ‘black armband’ school of history, a phrase ...

Julia Caesar

Marilyn Butler, 17 March 1983

The Prince and the Wild Geese 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 62 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 241 10894 2
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... sister Joanna (or Martha – the name is in doubt) were the youngest of ten daughters of the late John Taaffe of Smarmore Castle, Co. Louth. At the ages of 26 and 30 respectively, they have been despatched to Rome by the current head of the family, their half-brother, another John Taaffe, to visit a distant kinsman, Lord ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... Oscar Wilde’s trial. (The exhibition includes Wilde’s cell door from Reading Gaol.) As Neil McKenna points out in his catalogue essay, Boulton and Park would almost certainly have called their evening get-up ‘drag’; but they would not yet have thought of themselves as ‘queer’ or ‘homosexual’: terms not established till the 1890s. Queer ...

Don’t talk to pigeons

Ben Jackson: MI5 in WW1, 22 January 2015

MI5 in the Great War 
edited by Nigel West.
Biteback, 434 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 84954 670 6
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... Germany and at first didn’t hesitate to express his impatience with the scare: when asked by Sir John Barlow, MP for Frome, whether he was aware that there were 66,000 German soldiers in England and 50,000 stands of Mauser rifles stored in cellars within a few hundred yards of Charing Cross, he thanked Barlow for providing such an excellent example of the ...

Working under Covers

Paul Laity: Mata Hari, 8 January 2004

Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War 
by Tammy Proctor.
New York, 205 pp., $27, June 2003, 0 8147 6693 5
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... It takes a special man to resist Hilda von Einem. A German spy in John Buchan’s Greenmantle (1916), she is a ‘known man-eater’, who tries to inspire a rising of ‘Muslim hordes’ against the British Empire. ‘With her bright hair and the long exquisite oval of her face she looked like some destroying fury of a Norse legend ...

How Laws Discriminate

Stephen Sedley: The Law’s Inequalities, 29 April 1999

... it lies deeper than the allocation or denial of rights – dependence on which, as my colleague John Laws has argued, is a sign of an immature society. It has to do with a common sense of equity, an ethic of kindness, a morality of feeling, which does not and cannot be expected to stop at a desire for legal justice, even though that is necessarily where the ...

Architect as Hero

David Cannadine, 21 January 1982

Lutyens: The Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens 
Hayward Gallery, 200 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 7287 0304 1Show More
Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate 
by Roderick Gradidge.
Allen and Unwin, 167 pp., £13.95, November 1981, 0 04 720023 5
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Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi 
by Robert Grant Irving.
Yale, 406 pp., £20, November 1981, 0 300 02422 3
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Lutyens: Country Houses 
by Daniel O’Neill.
Lund Humphries, 167 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 85331 428 4
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Lutyens and the Sea Captain 
by Margaret Richardson.
Scolar, 40 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 85967 646 3
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Houses and Gardens by E.L. Lutyens 
by Lawrence Weaver.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 344 pp., £19.50, January 1982, 0 902028 98 7
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... the catalogue commentary requires the combined efforts of Colin Amery, Mary Lutyens, Jane Brown, John Cornforth, Gavin Stamp and John Summerson to do justice to an architect whose career, in its range, dimensions and achievements, outshines Wren, Vanbrugh and the Adam brothers. Cloud-capp’d towers, gorgeous ...

Elves blew his mind

Mike Jay: Hallucinations, 7 March 2013

by Oliver Sacks.
Picador, 322 pp., £18.99, November 2012, 978 1 4472 0825 9
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Spiritualism, Mesmerism and the Occult, 1800-1920 
edited by Shane McCorristine.
Pickering and Chatto, 5 vols, 1950 pp., £450, September 2012, 978 1 84893 200 5
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... of science. Prominent among them were drug experimenters such as the renegade neuroscientist John Lilly, who postulated an 11-level model of the mind to explain how his experiments with LSD in sensory deprivation tanks might have plugged him into a cosmic computer, and the psychedelic explorer Terence McKenna, whose ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... studied theatre in Paris for a short time, and then returned to Ireland, playing a small part in John Ford’s film The Quiet Man and working for a time at the Gate Theatre with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir. In the summer of 1953 he directed Siobhán McKenna and Cyril Cusack in The Playboy of the Western ...

Animal Experiences

Colin Tudge: At the zoo, 21 June 2001

A Different Nature: The Paradoxical World of Zoos and Their Uncertain Future 
by David Hancocks.
California, 280 pp., £19.95, May 2001, 0 520 21879 5
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... was the general response. In the wake of her role as Joy Adamson in Born Free, Virginia McKenna and her husband, Bill Travers, founded Zoo Check, in essence anti-zoo. As London Zoo languished, Zoo Check flourished. In 1990, the post-Zuckerman Council declared that London Zoo must close. It was saved by the ‘Reform Group’: a few like-thinking ...

Miss Lachrymose

Liz Brown: Doris Day’s Performances, 11 September 2008

Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door 
by David Kaufman.
Virgin, 628 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 905264 30 8
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... for Doris Day, the moment from which her longheld stage fright sprang. ‘This shy goddess,’ John Updike once wrote, ‘who avoids parties and live audiences, fascinates us with the amount of space we imagine between her face and her mask.’ The images of Doris Day (that blonde hair, those white teeth) and her personas as the spunky girl next door, the ...


Kathleen Jamie: In the West Highlands, 14 July 2011

... furniture; a deep window ledge held a small number of books: The Highland Clearances by John Prebble, pamphlets on local flora, a field guide to birds, Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water. After we’d unpacked, we went for a stroll over the salt marsh. The tide was out, leaving creeks and channels. A bridge spanned the river that ran, swollen ...

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