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Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell

6 December 1984
The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl​ of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... JohnWilmot,Earl of Rochester, one of the original ‘amorous sons of Wadham’, perhaps took part in writing an obscene farce called Sodom. Dr Walker drily observes that ‘to assert this twenty years ago would have damaged ...

Reason, Love and Life

Christopher Hill

20 November 1980
The Letters of John Wilmot, Earl​ of Rochester 
edited by Jeremy Treglown.
Blackwell, 275 pp., £21, September 1980, 9780631128311
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... Rochester is one of the most exciting and paradoxical of English poets. Sexually ambivalent, a notorious member of the gang of young roués at the court of Charles II, he nevertheless managed to write a few ...

Doomed to Sincerity

Germaine Greer: Rochester​ as New Man

16 September 1999
The Works of John Wilmot, Earl​ of Rochester 
edited by Harold Love.
Oxford, 712 pp., £95, April 1999, 0 19 818367 4
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... For his half-niece Anne Wharton, writing immediately after his death in 1680 at the age of 33, the poet Rochester was the guide who would have led her ‘right in wisdom’s way’: He civilised the rude and taught the young, Made fools grow wise, such artful music hung Upon his useful, kind, instructing tongue ...

Very very she

Margaret Anne Doody

22 April 1993
The Works of Aphra Behn. Vol. I: Poetry 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 481 pp., £55, September 1992, 1 85196 012 0
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Oroonoko, The Rover and Other Works 
by Aphra Behn, edited by Janet Todd.
Penguin, 385 pp., £6.99, November 1992, 0 14 043338 4
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... was in effect a new medium, the reconstituted English stage, which now featured actresses as well as actors. She wrote plays, wrote poems, had love affairs. She was an admirer of that witty poet, JohnWilmot,Earl of Rochester, and wrote an elegy on his death. Large was his Fame, but short his Glorious Race, Like young Lucretius and dy’d apace. So early Roses fade, so over all They cast their ...

In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester

22 October 2014
Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl​ of Rochester 
by Alexander Larman.
Head of Zeus, 387 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 78185 109 8
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... that campaign was wit, a form of spontaneous humour you don’t have to work for, and thus an appropriate mode for upper-class layabouts. When Charlotte Brontë named Jane Eyre’s would-be seducer Rochester, it was this lineage of high-class moral ruffians she had in mind. Her hero belongs to that pantheon of literary characters who are beguiling not despite their wickedness but because of it. Rochester ...

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