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Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands

5 March 2015
Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... Philip Marsden​ ’s new book explores an idea as much as it explores a country. It journeys westward through Cornwall from Bodmin Moor to Scilly, alighting on the rocky eminences where granite has boiled up through the Earth’s crust and crystallised into highlands and headlands. It’s rugged country, raked by ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John​ Sparrow

1 October 1998
The Warden 
by John​ Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... John Hanbury Angus Sparrow (1906-92) was a devotee of the poetry of A.E. Housman. He wrote a vivid introduction to Housman’s verse, whose tight control, both of metre and of homosexual passion, found ...

I’m all for it

R.W. Johnson

30 March 2000
Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII 
by John Cornwall.
Viking, 430 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 670 87620 8
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... changing room. The austere, ascetic Pius XII was the presiding spirit in this grim theocratic world. Later we had other Popes who, we were told, were also jolly good, but even the warm feeling about John XXIII never approached the devotional cult around Pius XII. There was a sense of real surprise that he wasn’t beatified and canonised as soon as he died. The nuns had told us that he couldn’t ...

No Sense of an Ending

Jane Eldridge Miller

21 September 1995
Windows on Modernism: Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson 
edited by Gloria Fromm.
Georgia, 696 pp., £58.50, February 1995, 0 8203 1659 8
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... by the ‘non-stop housewifery’ which consumed her days. From 1918 until 1939, Richardson and her husband moved three times a year. Every autumn, they settled in a primitive rented cottage in Cornwall, where Richardson was responsible for shopping, cooking and cleaning, as well as for her own and her husband’s sizeable correspondence. In the spring, Richardson would pack up their belongings and ...

‘Where’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’

Michael Dobson: 17th-century literary culture

11 September 2008
Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707 
by John​ Kerrigan.
Oxford, 599 pp., March 2008, 978 0 19 818384 6
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... of wet, windswept heather, where there were ample supplies of fiddle music, and where every fishing village and handicrafts exhibition promised another souvenir linen tea towel. Sometimes it was Cornwall; sometimes Scotland; sometimes Wales; and sometimes it was the long drive across Wales to Fishguard and the night ferry to Ireland. My anoraks gradually accumulated shiny stick-on plastic arm badges ...

End of Story

Robert Taubman

20 November 1980
A Humument 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 367 pp., £12, October 1980, 0 500 09146 3
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The Past 
by Neil Jordan.
Cape, 232 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 224 01845 0
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Black Tickets 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Allen Lane, 194 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1354 1
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... Past contains a number of ‘given’ facts that the narrator knows, or wants to know, about his parents and grandparents. In June 1914 Michael and Una O’Shaughnessy have a reason for their stay in Cornwall: to conceal the date of birth of their child, conceived out of wedlock. This child is Rene, who grows up in Dublin, Bray and Sandymount in the 1920s. In 1934 she is an actress in a touring company ...
20 November 1986
The Injured Party 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 241 11946 4
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Expensive Habits 
by Maureen Howard.
Viking, 268 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 670 81291 9
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... by the experience of living in a ‘country where everyone is dying or about to die’. When she is discharged and sent home, she takes to her bed and refuses to speak. Only the arrival of John, her ex-lover, who is himself dying from a degenerative disease, can rouse her from this trance. Getting ill in one’s forties, for Schaeffer, is a form of memento mori. In the hospital, Iris ‘was ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson

20 November 2008
... as one which, by including pieces that can’t be placed on the direct path to pure form, puts Nicholson in the company of other English artists who dipped into abstraction and then out again (as John Piper did) or who abandoned impressionistic realism of a traditional sort for it (as Victor Pasmore did). None of them in doing this lost a craftsmanlike pleasure in things well and carefully made ...

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 ...

The Limit

Rosemary Hill

2 November 1995
Christopher Wood: An English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... at the Tate and to be a Dame of the British Empire. Yet, Sally Festing tells us, many people felt sorry for her ‘at the end’, and the very end, her death alone in a fire at her studio in Cornwall, was pathetic. The less strong-minded Wood pursued his short, highly-coloured career along a butterfly zigzag from place to place and style to style, his suicide at 29 marking an even more unhappy ...

Bad John

Alan Bennett: John​ Osborne

3 December 1981
A Better Class of Person 
by John​ Osborne.
Faber, 285 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 571 11785 6
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... One of John Osborne’s Thoughts for 1954: ‘The urge to please above all. I don’t have it and can’t achieve it. A small thing but more or less mine own.’ This book does please and has pleased. It is ...

Bert’s Needs

Patricia Beer

25 March 1993
Lawrence’s Women: The Intimate Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Elaine Feinstein.
HarperCollins, 275 pp., £18, January 1993, 0 00 215364 5
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... be selective, limiting herself scrupulously to episodes that were thoroughly pertinent to Mansfield’s relationship with Lawrence. The most important of these was the time in 1916 when Katherine and John Middleton Murry were persuaded to take a house next to the Lawrences in north Cornwall. The couples had known each other for some while; Katherine and Murry had been at the Lawrences’ wedding two ...

Puffed up, Slapped down

Rosemary Hill: Charles and Camilla

6 September 2017
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life 
by Sally Bedell Smith.
Michael Joseph, 624 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 7181 8780 4
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The Duchess: The Untold Story 
by Penny Junor.
William Collins, 320 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 0 00 821100 4
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... she reaches for a comparison with Downton Abbey. Like Penny Junor, she has written other royal biographies (of the queen and Princess Diana). Junor, however, is a career journalist, daughter of John Junor, the former editor in chief of the Sunday Express, and she is much closer to her material. She has written two lives of Charles and one each of Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well ...
3 March 1988
... If John Bampfylde has any continuing public existence, it must be as the man on the right in this unusual double portrait by Joshua Reynolds. An interested enquirer might learn that Bampfylde was a minor ...

Eye-Catchers

Peter Campbell

4 December 1986
Survey of London: Vol. XLII. Southern Kensington: Kensington to Earls Court 
Athlone, 502 pp., £55, May 1986, 0 485 48242 8Show More
Follies: A National Trust Guide 
by Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp.
Cape, 564 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 224 02105 2
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The Botanists 
by David Elliston Allen.
St Paul’s Bibliographies, 232 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 906795 36 2
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British Art since 1900 
by Frances Spalding.
Thames and Hudson, 252 pp., £10.50, April 1986, 0 500 23457 4
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Paintings from Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1900 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 527 pp., £55, March 1986, 0 8142 0380 9
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History of the British Pig 
by John​ Wiseman.
Duckworth, 118 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780715619872
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... houses of Kensington Square, the neat brick and stucco of Edwardes Square (1811-25) and the Italian-villa-like elevations of Launceton Place (1840-3) gave way to cliffs of Italianate stucco (like Cornwall Gardens, late 1860s) and the red-and-yellow-brick mansion blocks of the 1880s and 1890s. These now dominate: this is Victorian London. Among the more remarkable buildings are the department stores ...

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