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Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... their families to the coast. The inspiration behind the scheme was George Lansbury, the subject of John Shepherd’s biography, a book as meticulous as it is generous. It is nonetheless timely: just as the prison service has brown-filled this pleasant site, so, too, New Labour has trampled on the radical socialism of which Lansbury was one of the finest ...

Bad Shepherd

Robert Crawford: James Hogg, 5 April 2001

The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. VIII: The ‘Spy’ 
edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 641 pp., £60, March 2000, 9780748613656
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... muse lets rip through the rat-a-tat of Blind Hary’s Wallace; and in the brassy Reformation of John Knox it blares even in the sophisticated George Buchanan’s over-the-top ‘Elegy for Jean Calvin’. The volume remains high in some of Robert Fergusson’s sophistic-performative street-talk, Burns’s on-off, rip-roaring ‘Tam ...

About Myself

Liam McIlvanney: James Hogg, 18 November 2004

The Electric ShepherdA Likeness of James Hogg 
by Karl Miller.
Faber, 401 pp., £25, August 2003, 0 571 21816 4
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Altrive Tales 
by James Hogg, edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 293 pp., £40, July 2003, 0 7486 1893 7
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... a fictional symposium that ran in the paper between 1822 and 1835. The author of the Noctes was John Wilson, who constructed dialogues between his own alter ego (‘Christopher North’) and that of Hogg (‘the Shepherd’). The Shepherd gets the best lines – better, some have ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Sunday Times book, Philby, the spy who betrayed a generation, which he co-authored in 1968. Mr John Costello has produced Mask of Treachery, dealing with Blunt, while Mr Robert Cecil has written a biography of his former Foreign Office colleague Donald Maclean. To round things out, we have The Storm Birds, Gordon Brook-...

Two Poems

John Ashbery, 20 January 2000

... grass there than you’d expected, you can bet. So I wandered fleecy as a cloud and one day an old shepherd crossed my path, looking very wise with his crook. How much use do you get out of that thing, I asked him. Depends, he replied. Sometimes one of ’em doesn’t go astray for months on end. Other times I’ve got my hands full with them running around in ...

Putting Down the Rising

John Barrell, 22 February 1996

The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. I: The Shepherd’s Calendar 
edited by Douglas Mack.
Edinburgh, 287 pp., £29.50, July 1995, 9780748604746
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Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. II: The Three Perils of Woman 
edited by David Groves, Antony Hasler and Douglas Mack.
Edinburgh, 466 pp., £32.50, July 1995, 9780748604746
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Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. III: A Queer Book 
edited by P.D. Garside.
Edinburgh, 278 pp., £29.50, July 1995, 0 7486 0506 1
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... Early 19th-century Edinburgh had a lot less time for James Hogg than for the Ettrick Shepherd, the literary persona created partly by Hogg himself, partly by the tight circle that ran Blackwood’s Magazine. Comic, bibulous, full of naive folk-wisdom, easy to patronise, the Ettrick Shepherd was invented as a souvenir of the pastoral Lowlands, a survival whose presence among one of the Edinburgh literary élites could represent both the continuity of modern Scots culture and the impolite past it had left behind ...

Diary

Naomi Shepherd: Israel’s longing for normality, 3 February 2005

... and replacing the nationalist agenda with the world view of the European New Left (think of John Lennon)’. Their targets included Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, who were criticised for peopling their work with neurotic characters; leading artists, for following cosmopolitan fashion; educationalists, for the decline in the teaching of the Bible, the Talmud ...

Northern Laughter

Karl Miller: Macrone on Scott, 9 October 2013

The Life of Sir Walter Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... may have glimpsed the shadowy, not to say meteoric, not to say dubious presence of the publisher John Macrone, and learned of his prompt desire, after Scott’s death in September 1832, to write his Life, basing it to a large extent on rural informants. Here was the promise of a main event in the comet’s six-year visit to the Anglo-Scottish cultural ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... likely that this autumn we will be shooting The Lady in the Van. This is the story of Miss Mary Shepherd, the elderly eccentric who took up residence in my garden in 1974, living there in a van until her death 15 years later. Maggie Smith played Miss Shepherd on the stage in 1999 and all being well will star in the film ...

Disinformation

Phillip Knightley, 8 July 1993

Deadly Illusions: The First Book from the KGB Archives 
by John Costello and Oleg Tsarev.
Century, 538 pp., £18.99, June 1993, 9780712655002
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... and had probably already been written about. The material was also going to be sliced wafer thin. John Costello and Oleg Tsarev had already engaged to write about Alexander Orlov and reveal him as the éminence grise behind the Cambridge ring. It was proposed that I should collaborate with former Colonel Yuri Modin and do the Cambridge ring in the post-war ...

At the National Gallery

Nicholas Penny: El Greco, 4 March 2004

... John Charles Robinson, perhaps the greatest connoisseur Britain has ever known, was turned down on four occasions for the post of director of the National Gallery. He was thought to be too closely associated with the trade (‘little better than a dealer’), and was known to have operated with scant respect for officialdom when employed by the South Kensington museum ...

Stick to the Latin

R.W. Johnson, 23 January 1997

Enoch Powell 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 564 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 09 179208 8
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... accounts for much of Powell’s irresistible lure to biographers – judging by his bibliography, Shepherd’s is the tenth so far, which may be a record for a living politician. (Powell himself dismisses all notion of writing his memoirs – ‘like a dog returning to its own vomit’.) Shepherd has included a large ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... Denis: ‘Marnie – wig, smell and all’; ‘Sam Smith, MP for Flint and religious bore’; ‘John Bulman, tutor, whisky lover and cheat’; ‘The misery of picnics’; ‘The Palship, dressed to kill ... ’ In triumphant contrast, there is: ‘Myself at 11, fisherman, child musicologist and budding atheist’. A Welsh Childhood is also strengthened by ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... have sat comfortably in a tradition of Scottish eccentricity that includes James Hogg’s The Shepherd’s Calendar, John Galt’s ‘theoretical histories’ and Margaret Oliphant’s tales of terror. It’s common to think of Blackwood’s as a stolid redoubt of middlebrow English respectability, the kind of torpid ...

Solitary Reapers

Christopher Salvesen, 5 June 1980

The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730-1840 
by John Barrell.
Cambridge, 179 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 521 22509 4
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... will always be more industrious than others. The ploughman probably works harder than the shepherd or the woodcutter, the milkmaid is generally a more realistic image of rural labour than the shepherdess, but the significant feature of all these characters as represented in the art of rural life is that they combine the Arcadian and the actual. Dr ...

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