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John Lanchester: FUKd, 21 May 2014

... at the time of the 2015 election. This is the outcome which has been argued for by the Tory MP John Stevenson, who is Scottish, but represents a constituency in the north of England. ‘You can’t have a situation where the government of the United Kingdom is determined by the representation from Scotland, which could then have significant influence ...

Sexual Tories

Angus Calder, 17 May 1984

The Common People: A History from the Norman Conquest to the Present 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Croom Helm and Flamingo, 445 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7099 0125 9
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British Society 1914-45 
by John Stevenson.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 503 pp., £16.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1390 8
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The World We Left Behind: A Chronicle of the Year 1939 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £11.95, April 1984, 0 297 78287 8
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Wigan Pier Revisited: Poverty and Politics in the Eighties 
by Beatrix Campbell.
Virago, 272 pp., £4.50, April 1984, 0 86068 417 2
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... sex or ability, they came and went when they chose, working-class mothers were admirably assisted. John Pounds, a crippled Portsmouth cobbler, ran one such, carrying on his trade while his pupils did the work he set them. A visitor suggested that he needed some new books – ‘those under that birdcage seem to be coming to pieces.’ Pounds: ‘So much the ...

Heliotrope

John Sutherland, 3 December 1992

Robert Louis StevensonDreams of Exile 
by Ian Bell.
Mainstream, 295 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 1 85158 457 9
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... Ian Bell protests his disqualifications as a biographer rather too much: ‘I have approached Stevenson in the most unscholarly way. I am a journalist, and do not pretend to be anything else.’ But Bell, as he is at pains to point out, is a Scottish journalist and it is through the privilege of shared race and place of origin that he claims a blood-intimacy denied scholars ...

In the Front Row

Susan Pedersen: Loving Lloyd George, 25 January 2007

. . . If Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 557 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 224 07464 4
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... bargain? Well, early in 1913, when Lloyd George was the chancellor making the proposal, Frances Stevenson, the daughter of a Scottish accountant and his part-French, part-Italian wife, did so. I can see why. It isn’t just that I’ve always had a soft spot for Lloyd George, who was a flesh and blood human being, and not one of those conscience-laden ...

Bournemouth

Andrew O’Hagan: The Bournemouth Set, 21 May 2020

... Robert​ Louis Stevenson was always ill, that’s what people said, and in the late summer of 1884 he decided he wouldn’t return to the South of France, where he’d spent the past year and a half in a house called La Solitude. His wife, Fanny, sought the advice of his London doctors, who recommended Davos in the Swiss mountains as being cholera-free, but Stevenson fancied southern England ...

Kids Gone Rotten

Matthew Bevis: ‘Treasure Island’, 25 October 2012

Treasure Island 
by Robert Louis Stevenson, edited by John Sutherland.
Broadview, 261 pp., £10.95, December 2011, 978 1 55111 409 5
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Silver: Return to Treasure Island 
by Andrew Motion.
Cape, 404 pp., £12.99, March 2012, 978 0 224 09119 0
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Treasure Island!!! 
by Sara Levine.
Tonga, 172 pp., £10.99, January 2012, 978 1 60945 061 8
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... John Singer Sargent’s ‘Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife’ (1885). The first return to Treasure Island was made by Robert Louis Stevenson himself. Fourteen years after the novel was published, Longman’s Magazine published ‘The Persons of the Tale’, in which Captain Smollett and Long John Silver step out of the narrative after the 32nd chapter to have a chat ‘in an open place not far from the story ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... uncanny faculty of melting’ had become a meltdown. Plath’s doctor during her final months, Dr John Horder, wrote afterwards: My judgment has always been that this was a very determined attempt to end her life ... I believe ... she was liable to large swings of mood, but so excessive that a doctor inevitably thinks in terms of brain chemistry. This does ...

In His Hot Head

Andrew O’Hagan: Robert Louis Stevenson, 17 February 2005

Robert Louis StevensonA Biography 
by Claire Harman.
HarperCollins, 503 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 00 711321 8
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... shipwreck, showmanship, early death – also bring to mind the life and career of Robert Louis Stevenson, another Scottish writer who looked at human adventure as a brand of metaphysics. Nowadays, people with a heart for proper adventure (or ‘extreme sports’) like to load themselves with equipment and dive into the ocean looking for wrecks, and it is ...

The Unwritten Fiction of Dead Brothers

Dinah Birch, 2 October 1997

Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years 
by John Chapple.
Manchester, 492 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 7190 2550 8
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... The daughter of Samuel Holland, a prosperous Cheshire farmer and land agent, the wife of William Stevenson, a scholar and writer of some reputation, and the mother of Elizabeth Gaskell, one of the most celebrated Victorian novelists, Elizabeth Stevenson has vanished. No portrait survives, no letter or scrap of journal, no cherished family anecdotes, no remembered trace of her character or opinions ...

Oh for the oo tray

William Feaver: Edward Burra, 13 December 2007

Edward Burra: Twentieth-Century Eye 
by Jane Stevenson.
Cape, 496 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 07875 7
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... Soho. Closer inspection reveals a Metro sign across the street, surely the clincher. But no: John Davenport, writing in Lilliput 17 years later, claimed he knew the joint concerned. ‘If you know Hastings really well you may recognise it.’ Hastings or wherever (‘Burra-Burra Land’ Davenport called it), Burra created here one of his finest greed ...

Something else

Jonathan Coe, 5 December 1991

In Black and White 
by Christopher Stevenson.
New Caxton Press, 32 pp., £1.95
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The Tree of Life 
by Hugh Nissenson.
Carcanet, 159 pp., £6.95, September 1991, 0 85635 874 6
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Cley 
by Carey Harrison.
Heinemann, 181 pp., £13.99, November 1991, 0 434 31368 8
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... of characters, events and incidental detail. Less ambitious, but more subversive, Christopher Stevenson and Hugh Nissenson seek to dismantle the system from within by producing novels which look like something else altogether: a form of experimentation which often has rather puritanical motives behind it – the assumption being either that existing ...

Von Hötzendorff’s Desire

Margaret MacMillan: The First World War, 2 December 2004

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy 
by David Stevenson.
Basic Books, 564 pp., £26.50, June 2004, 0 465 08184 3
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... as Norman Stone, Hew Strachan, Annette Becker and Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. With Cataclysm, David Stevenson draws on much recent work to provide a comprehensive account of the war, with a welcome interest both in the non-European theatres and in the home fronts. His book is also part of a more general attempt to rethink the meaning of the Great War and ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... that, for most writers, greedy to learn and emulate, this is the only important question. Randall Stevenson’s volume in the Oxford English Literary History, which provides an account of 1960 to 2000, prompts these thoughts, because his book has no interest in aesthetic intention and no interest in aesthetic success. It is a purely academic account of ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 10 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... by Edward I of England) were soon established as Robert de Brus, fifth lord of Annandale, and John Balliol, lord of Galloway. Both claims originated in the marriages of the daughters of David, earl of Huntingdon, the youngest grandson of David I of Scotland. Balliol had a claim by primogeniture, as the grandson of Earl David’s eldest ...

Playing

Robert Taubman, 5 August 1982

Sabbatical 
by John Barth.
Secker, 366 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 03675 4
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Distant Relations 
by Carlos Fuentes.
Secker, 225 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 436 16764 6
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Keepers of the House 
by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 0 224 02001 3
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An Old Song 
by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Wilfion Books, 102 pp., £5.95, June 1982, 0 905075 12 9
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... and melos. Like most Post-Modernist fantasies, Sabbatical takes a lot of unpacking. But this is John Barth in holiday mood, and a virtuoso display of techniques brought together from different kinds of novel is here frankly offered for enjoyment. One of its methods is purely realistic: it is full of information, for instance, about sailing in the Chesapeake ...

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