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Promises, Promises

David Carpenter: The Peasants’ Revolt

1 June 2016
England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381 
by Juliet Barker.
Abacus, 506 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 0 349 12382 0
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... the rebels set in motion. Many were executed. The rising did at least put an end to the new poll tax that had been one of its major causes. The next government to attempt a poll tax was Thatcher’s. JulietBarker has written a splendid account of the events of 1381 and their wider context, enlivened with many arresting anecdotes. There is the rebel who ran his sword into the royal bed in the Tower of ...

Bumming and Booing

John Mullan: William Wordsworth

5 April 2001
Wordsworth: A Life 
by Juliet Barker.
Viking, 971 pp., £25, October 2000, 9780670872138
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The Hidden Wordsworth 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Pimlico, 690 pp., £15, September 2000, 0 7126 6752 0
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Disowned by Memory: Wordsworth’s Poetry of the 1790s 
by David Bromwich.
Chicago, 186 pp., £9.50, April 2000, 0 226 07556 7
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... for nothing, and not a few faulty passages, but I know of no poet in any language who has written so much that is good,’ Robert Southey wrote (the declaration is emblazoned on the dust-jacket of JulietBarker’s new Life). Yet any sense of this – of the subtle, elementary qualities of Wordsworth’s verse – is rarely apparent to those who study him, and rarely apparent in the throng of books ...

What Charlotte Did

Susan Eilenberg

6 April 1995
The Brontës 
by Juliet Barker.
Weidenfeld, 1003 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 297 81290 4
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... JulietBarker’s The Brontës is an uneasy work. It seeks to defend the family it takes as its subject against those who sought to invade its privacy: the Victorian reading public, with its prurient speculations ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës

16 November 2017
... significant book published to mark Charlotte’s 200th birthday was Claire Harman’s Life, the first serious new biography since Lyndall Gordon’s Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life in 1994 and JulietBarker’s The Brontës from the same year (biographies seem to come in generational bursts). All writers on the Brontës now benefit from Margaret Smith’s magisterial – much overdue – edition ...
20 December 1979
An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... figures can be less concerned with the presentation of self, less calculating of the effect produced. Hence the famous gaffes. The foot went into the mouth quite early. At a first night of Romeo and Juliet in 1919, Ellen Terry’s last professional appearance, the Terry family was out in force. Gielgud’s grandmother Kate Terry and her sister Marion were both given rounds of applause as they made ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden

1 September 1988
Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... surprise many who worked with Tyrone Guthrie by describing him as a ‘highly cerebral’ director, and amuse showbiz New York mightily with the statement that, after their star-crossed Romeo and Juliet on Broadway in 1940, Olivier and Vivien Leigh went to lick their wounds for a month in Vermont with ‘the Alexander Woollcotts’. The English period equivalent would be a month in the country with ...

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