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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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... John Wilmot, 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 Rochester’s reputation as much as to deny it today ...

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 poignant and haunting poems which suggest that his public notoriety concealed a sensibility reacting to the intellectual crisis of the later 17th century ...

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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... 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. Rochester’s ...

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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... as actors. She wrote plays, wrote poems, had love affairs. She was an admirer of that witty poet, John Wilmot, 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 ...

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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... 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 is finally ...

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