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5 December 1991
Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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...  and even a countess will seem like an extinct volcano in the Lords. Her allies in the press are falling away. The Sunday Telegraph has ceased its passionate flirtations with nostalgia. Besides, John Major is either dismantling some of what she did or failing to conceal his embarrassment at the consequences of what he cannot undo. In the balance between exalting the Thatcher years and distancing ...
15 April 2013
... an otherwise confused and erratic new leadership. The leader knew what she detested long before she knew what she liked, and her own part in the Heathite reign of error only magnified her disgust. As JohnRanelagh, who once worked for her at the Conservative Research Department, says, she was no intellectual. His book purports to be about the people who did her intellectual work for her, and what they ...


Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens

7 February 2013
Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... epitomised the comparative openness of a polite and commercial people addicted to congregation, artifice and performance. Unsurprisingly, the most famous pleasure gardens were in London. Vauxhall, Ranelagh and Marylebone are the three best known, though there is evidence that at least 64 metropolitan venues were in business between 1661 and 1871. Outside London, urban pleasure gardens such as Spring ...


R.W. Johnson

4 June 1987
Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... to do, and a permanent Parliamentary oversight committee on the American model. We also need to make a comprehensive move towards more open government in the manner discussed by Clive Ponting, JohnRanelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee in Freedom of Information … Freedom of the Invididual?, a new collection of essays edited by Julia Neuberger. Three newspapers are currently being sued and two others ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: London 1753

25 September 2003
... In 1738 John Rocque, a Frenchman, began his survey of London. His map (engraved by John Pine) covers an area from Marylebone and Chelsea in the west to Stepney and Deptford in the east. It was finally published in 1747. Pasted together, its 24 sheets measure 13 x 6 ½ feet – that is ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller

25 April 2013
... disliked by the old gentlemen who wanted her out. Her candour was greater than theirs, and was a good thing on occasion, for all its turns and denials. Calling her ‘the leaderene’, as Norman St John-Stevas did, wasn’t candid, or apt, or funny. The old fellows were bound to wish to hit back from time to time at the Handbag, and they did manage to get rid of it, none too soon, in the end.12 ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John​ Mullan: English culture

18 June 1998
The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John​ Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... was publicly available and publicly pursued – pleasure heightened by being taken in public. And they were accessible to all who could pay the price of admission. One of the leading characters in John Brewer’s The Pleasure of the Imagination was a visitor to pleasure gardens. Anna Margaretta Larpent was a moderately prosperous lady living in London in the late 18th century, married to the state ...

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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... transport him out of the kingdom long before his true parentage could be revealed and he could marry that nice Susannah York. Fielding died in 1754 and was succeeded at Bow Street by his half-brother John: ‘blind John’ as he had been since the age of 19, ‘Sir John’ as he became in 1761, after successfully agitating to be knighted so as to increase the prestige of his office. The government ...
18 May 2000
The John​ Marsh Journals: The Life and Times of a Gentleman Composer (1752-1828) 
edited by Brian Robins.
Pendragon, 797 pp., $76, December 1998, 0 945193 94 7
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... wool in our auditory spaces, cannot experience the calm that ‘disturbs and vexes meditation with its strange and extreme silentness’. Coleridge wrote this line in 1798, a couple of years before John Marsh finished the first part of his History of My Private Life, and a reading of ‘Frost at Midnight’, along with some of the other ‘Conversation Poems’ – ‘The Aeolian Harp’, ‘This ...


Rosemary Hill

5 December 1991
Gertrude Jekyll 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 323 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 670 82788 6
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People’s Parks 
by Hazel Conway.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £49.50, August 1991, 0 521 39070 2
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The History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day 
edited by Monique Mosser and Georges Teyssot.
Thames and Hudson, 543 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 500 01511 2
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... front line. Morris watched Walthamstow become ‘cocknified and choked up’ as the city expanded: Gertrude Jekyll lived to see the first waves of the tide of gentility that swept over Surrey until John Betjeman could not look at one of Miss Jekyll’s beloved rhododendrons without thinking of a stockbroker. Less intellectual, in many ways less effective than Morris, she was, nevertheless, in one ...

The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote

23 May 2013
Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... another, rather different family event which proved the more lasting benefit, for Foote first came to metropolitan notice through a sensational murder case involving two of his maternal uncles: Sir John Dineley-Goodere, who was the victim; and his younger brother Captain Samuel Goodere (after whom Foote was named), who was executed for the murder. The back story was a saga of legal wrangling over ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary

13 September 2018
The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... or another), joked that she had served her apprenticeship in hemlines. But it was the ability to spot the difference between ‘beige’ and ‘bone’ at fifty yards that made her a natural diarist. John Updike said her ‘Talk of the Town’ pieces ‘helped put New York back into the New Yorker’. Her first column, in January 1954, was about a careless dry cleaner, and began the dispatches from ...

Last Night Fever

David Cannadine: The Proms

6 September 2007
... anything very novel. Such ‘promenades’ had been a permanent yet ephemeral part of London cultural life for the best part of sixty years. Public concerts in such places as Vauxhall, Marylebone and Ranelagh Gardens had been a feature of 18th-century metropolitan life, but promenade concerts had originated in Paris, and were imported to Britain during the late 1830s. They were held in such theatres as ...
30 March 2016
... among the nationalist Irish-American groups who supported the idea of a bombing campaign in Britain viewed with dismay the lack of restraint and caution in O’Donovan Rossa’s violent rhetoric. John Devoy, one of the leaders of Clan na Gael, the main Irish nationalist organisation in America, believed, as Kenna writes, that O’Donovan Rossa ‘had given the British ample warning of his plans ...

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