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27 June 1991
Samuel Johnson in the Medical World: The Doctor and the Patient 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £30, March 1991, 0 521 38326 9
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... body its various ingenuities and interventions.’ Using a mass of material drawn from Johnson’s writings and those of contemporary medical men, besides the testimonies of friends and strangers, JohnWiltshire examines Johnson as both sufferer and physician (or healer). Hence his punning subtitle. Some of Johnson’s best friends, starting with his godfather, were doctors, and in addition to ...

Noticing and Not Noticing

John​ Mullan: Consciousness in Austen

20 November 2014
The Hidden Jane Austen 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 195 pp., £17.99, April 2014, 978 1 107 64364 2
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... instant response to his ‘application’ is turned into a perplexing reflex. She is left ‘to fret over her own want of presence of mind’, and we sense the denial of feelings hidden from herself. JohnWiltshire’s finely observed study of Jane Austen’s six completed novels is all about the way she conjures characters’ hidden feelings. His title might lead you to expect some revelation of ...
7 May 1981
... Geoffrey Grigson and I were touring Wiltshire in a hired car, a black Morris 1000 saloon, doing a piece of photo-journalism for Picture Post. I was taking the photographs. It-was 1951. The Mail had offered a reward of £10,000 for any ...


Alison Light: Wiltshire​ Baptists

8 April 2010
... unknown, Wellsian science and hedging his bets. I went to Shrewton because I miss him and it was one way of carrying on our talks, but I was also prompted by reading the Victoria County History of Wiltshire, which reveals that on Census Sunday 1851, 350 people, more than half the population of Shrewton, attended Zion Chapel’s services. In this village the Baptists were not a minority sect. Even ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’

7 October 2015
‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John​ Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John​ Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... A friend​ who teaches in New York told me that the historian Peter Lake told him that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of ...

Make the music mute

John​ Barrell

9 July 1992
English Music 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 241 12501 4
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... books and English paintings, which, properly understood, all aspire to the condition of English music. Then, without being told why, Timothy is packed off to live with his mother’s parents in Wiltshire, and there for the first time he sees the English countryside, goes to school, and meets other children – in particular, the crippled Edward Campion. He also cures his grandmother, who suffers from ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John​ Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster

10 June 2010
The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... Decayed Cornish boroughs with two or three hundred inhabitants had the same level of representation (two members) as county constituencies whose population was more than a million. The Wiltshire borough of Old Sarum returned two members, but its only residents were sheep. Its 11 vote-carrying properties were owned by an absentee patron who granted leases for the duration of elections to ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland

19 July 2012
... sitting in scarlet coats to Pompeo Batoni, whose portraits by this stage were so formulaic that their subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as John Brewer emphasises in his catalogue essay, the Tour was more socially mixed than it might appear. Basset, the biggest spender among the consigners to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’

2 April 2014
... Netley Abbey’ by Francis Towne (1809) ‘Netley Abbey’ by Samuel Prout (date unknown) ‘Equivalents for the Megaliths’ by Paul Nash (1935) ‘The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum’ by John Martin (1822) ‘Sketch for Hadleigh Castle’ by John Constable (1828-9)PreviousNext Within it there are tantalising themes. The one which the Tate’s collection is best suited to develop is ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul

13 May 1999
Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... his most triumphant book the one which his true disciple, Paul Theroux, thinks marks the great falling-off: The Enigma of Arrival. This is a book about Naipaul having stopped writing. He is living in Wiltshire within a stone’s throw of a large house in which a scarcely-disguised Stephen Tennant is, like England, gathering dust and going to seed. Nothing happens in the book, yet the writing is hypnotic ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Stonehenge for the solstice

6 July 2006
... It is 21 years this summer since the Battle of the Beanfield, the bloody confrontation at Cholderton in Wiltshire between police and a travellers’ convoy heading for Stonehenge, which resulted in 420 arrests and the end of the Stonehenge Free Festival. For more than a decade after that the authorities kept the ...


Will Self: Walking out of London

20 October 2011
... OS maps from their special shelf, plotted a route then struck out for the known. He had even decided on his destination: the manor house of friends of ours who live in prelapsarian splendour on the Wiltshire/ Hampshire border; friends who grow hundreds of acres of wheat, ride to hounds and potter in their walled garden. History, Stephen Dedalus groaned, is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake ...


William Feaver: John​ and Myfanwy Piper

17 December 2009
John​ Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art 
by Frances Spalding.
Oxford, 598 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 19 956761 4
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... The elongated shards of smog grey, pea green and lemonade that, since 1968, have cast a wan light on pews reserved for the use of MPs in St Margaret’s, Westminster, are untypical of John Piper. Normally, his stained glass seethes, particularly in Coventry Cathedral, where a Piper sunburst behind the boulder that serves as a font irradiates a great wall of clunky fenestration. In ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker

4 September 1980
Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... are preserved at present in the State Archives in Moscow), or to works written about English affairs by foreign scholars. Thus pages 447-8 of Volume II contain an account of a weavers’ riot in Wiltshire in 1738, based on an article published in Portuguese by a Brazilian historian. This may seem fair enough. But, upon investigation, we find that the article is little more than a translation into ...


Frank Kermode: William Golding

5 November 2009
William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John​ Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... John Carey has had access to voluminous archives stored in the Faber basement or in the keeping of William Golding’s family. No one else may see them; he alone can quote from unpublished novels ...

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