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Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... with two unpardonable offences to the estate. Jack, as Stone asserted, was not in fact the son of John London. His true father, Stone claimed, was a vagrant, 55-year-old, incorrigibly bigamous ‘itinerant Irish astrologer’ called William H. Chaney. Chaney and Jack’s mother, Flora Wellman, had a tempestuous and unhallowed alliance in 1874-75, during which ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections, 18 May 2000

... world who would not have recognised her by her former name. For Sarah Tomkins had once been Sarah Walker, also known as Sally Walker; and she was that little ‘lodging-house hussy’ (or ‘poor half-harlot’ or ‘callous jilt’) with whom the great Hazlitt had fallen so hopelessly in love, for whom he had divorced his ...

Slice of Life

Colin Burrow: Robin Robertson, 30 August 2018

The Long Take 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 1 5098 4688 7
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... myths, and is temperamentally a northern island or isthmus dweller. In that respect he’s like John Burnside, to whom he dedicated his best poem so far, ‘At Roane Head’ (LRB, 14 August 2008), in which there is not just a selkie at the bottom of the garden but there might be a selkie in the bedroom that could cuckold you, or make you kill your children ...

At Burlington House

Ben Walker: William Smith’s Geological Maps, 7 January 2021

... drew his coloured strata directly onto a base map, made in 1794 by his publisher, the cartographer John Cary, before the fifteen sheets were engraved by assist­ants onto copper plates ready for reprinting – a process that took two years. He made several versions of the map during his lifetime, many of which he neither numbered nor named. Some of these ...

No More Scissors and Paste

Mary Beard: R.G. Collingwood, 25 March 2010

History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood 
by Fred Inglis.
Princeton, 385 pp., £23.95, 0 691 13014 0
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... family home. Inglis, in fact, hazards a guess that R.G. was the inspiration for the elder brother, John Walker, in Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. True or not, it reminds us that when Collingwood set out, single-handed, on his ill-fated voyage into the English Channel in 1938, he had a lifetime of risky sailing experiences behind him. Inglis is ...

Jingoes

R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... with an ANC-ruled South Africa, back within the Commonwealth. If the book has a hero it is Sir John Maud, the British high commissioner who advised in 1960 that since a black government must come to power one day, Britain must ‘keep faith’ with the black majority, while at the same time not antagonising the National Party government to no good ...

Settling accounts

Keith Walker, 15 May 1980

‘A heart for every fate’: Byron’s Letters and Journals, Vol. 10, 1822-1823 
edited by Leslie Marchand.
Murray, 239 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7195 3670 7
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... June 1823) Byron was settling his accounts with his creditors, with his public, with his publisher John Murray, with his mistress, and making arrangements to settle his accounts with life and fame. Late in this volume we see Byron discussing a collected edition of his poems with J.W. Lake. Elsewhere Byron says he wants to amass enough money to be able to leave ...

Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV, 10 July 2003

Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... the French campaigns of Henry V endowed his subjects with a powerful sense of historical destiny. John Lydgate’s Troy Book provided the defining self-image for Henry’s regime: the British, like the Romans, were refugees from the ruins of Troy and now, like the Romans, they would conquer an empire. This confident sense of imperial mission faded as victory ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... palaces were equipped with wheelchairs and specially strengthened beds.) Three years ago, the Walker Gallery in Liverpool brought together in one room four of those giant Eworth/Holbein images (Trinity, Chatsworth, Petworth and their own), which glowered intimidatingly at each other from the four walls. Historians and biographers have never offered ...

Casualty Reports

Robert Taubman, 5 February 1981

The White Hotel 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 240 pp., £6.95, January 1981, 0 575 02889 0
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Riddley Walker 
by Russell Hoban.
Cape, 220 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01851 5
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The Last Crime 
by John Domatilla.
Heinemann, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 434 20090 5
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... the future beyond a nuclear holocaust commonly leads to other assumptions about evil. In Riddley Walker evil is far more reductive, widespread and less specialised than in its 20th-century forms, as if all the life that has crept back on earth after ‘the white shadderd stood up over everything’ has become what it is simply as a result of that one ...

Was it like this for the Irish?

Gareth Peirce: The War on British Muslims, 10 April 2008

... of al-Qaida before 11 September 2001. All of this echoed other wrongful detentions, like that of John Walker in 1974, when the West Midlands police coerced an innocent Irishman into confessing that he was an IRA ‘brigadier’, ignorant of the fact that such a title existed only in the British army. This confession was nevertheless swallowed ...

Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... between two disastrous economic depressions’ (as Alasdair Gray recalls it in The Fall of Kelvin Walker, subtitled ‘A Fable of the Sixties’). It occurs to John Dyson, Frayn’s downtrodden hero, that ‘failure was the secular equivalent of sin.’ But even his failure now seems like success. He and Bob Bell work out ...

Anglo-Egyptian Attitudes

Marina Warner, 5 January 2017

... arm of the British Protectorate running the country from the wings. ‘The Daughter of Admiral Walker’ (after David Wilkie) There were many prints of Egypt in our Zamalek flat – picturesque views of the ruins and the pyramids and Old Cairo, from series that had been published in the previous century – and they fascinated me: drowned temples, dhows ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... professional. In the mid-17th century, the Royal Society established a committee including Dryden, John Evelyn and Edmund Waller, ‘to improve the English tongue’. Nothing much came of this. In 1658, Milton’s nephew Edward Philips had published a New World of English Words which reached its seventh edition by 1720. Swift busied himself with the state of ...

At the White House’s Whim

Tom Bingham: The Power of Pardon, 26 March 2009

... in office, President Clinton was more parsimonious in granting pardons than any president since John Adams two hundred years earlier. But he made up for this at the end when he cast aside the ordinary process for handling federal clemency applications and, in the words of the American lawyer Margaret Colgate, ‘enjoyed a final unencumbered opportunity to ...

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