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Escaping the curssed orange

Norma Clarke: Jane Barker, 5 April 2001

Jane Barker, Exile: A Literary Career 1675-1725 
by Kathryn King.
Oxford, 263 pp., £40, September 2000, 0 19 818702 5
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... her lifetime and all but forgotten after her death in 1732. In this, the first full-length study, King has new archival research to draw on and is able to piece together some obscure periods of Barker’s life, especially her years of exile in France between 1689 and 1704. She can ‘reasonably surmise’ that her subject was at different times an anatomy ...

What did she do with those beds?

Thomas Keymer: Eliza Haywood, 3 January 2013

A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood 
by Kathryn King.
Pickering and Chatto, 288 pp., £60, June 2012, 978 1 85196 917 3
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... to the sky; His be yon Juno of majestic size, With cow-like udders, and with ox-like eyes. As Kathryn King observes in the first full-length biography of Haywood for almost a hundred years, these lines are straight out of ‘the well-stocked cabinet of misogynistic satiric conventions’, and they needn’t depict anyone in particular. Edmund ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, 27 January 2022

... The Tragedy of Macbeth takes its cue from the witches. Or, rather, its one witch, played by Kathryn Hunter, who multiplies herself when she feels like it. Early in the film she stares at us across a pool while talking to Macbeth and Banquo. She is alone but there are two reflections in the water, neither of them in the right place to be hers. Then ...

On the Game

Kathryn Tidrick, 22 December 1994

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 
by Patrick French.
HarperCollins, 440 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 00 215733 0
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... as under the guidance of superior beings in the stars, who were presumed to ‘work much as the King and his Government work to produce the conditions under which the inhabitants of, say, Samoa, might develop to the highest pitch of their mental capacity’. He showed no other signs of insanity and became quite a successful, and very ...

At the Panto

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 December 2021

... it. There was a lot of glitter, hand sanitiser, and a samovar of tea. The show would open at the King’s Theatre in less than a week, yet the atmosphere was all laughter and promise.I have a thing for pantomime. I’ll spare you my theory that the best of it is better than King Lear and The Cherry Orchard put ...

See you in hell, punk

Thomas Jones: Kai su, Brutus, 6 December 2018

Brutus: The Noble Conspirator 
by Kathryn Tempest.
Yale, 314 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 300 18009 1
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... by Donato Giannotti, a committed republican, in 1539. It was never finished. ‘The story goes,’ Kathryn Tempest writes in her biography of Brutus, ‘that when Michelangelo tried to put a face to the Liberator, he found not a noble conspirator but an unjust oppressor.’ It’s the simultaneous presence of these two faces that makes Brutus an enduringly ...

Some girls want out

Hilary Mantel: Spectacular saintliness, 4 March 2004

The Voices of Gemma Galgani: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Saint 
by Rudolph Bell and Cristina Mazzoni.
Chicago, 320 pp., £21, March 2003, 0 226 04196 4
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 
by Kathryn Harrison.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 84728 7
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The Disease of Virgins: Green Sickness, Chlorosis and the Problems of Puberty 
by Helen King.
Routledge, 196 pp., £50, September 2003, 0 415 22662 7
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A Wonderful Little Girl: The True Story of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl 
by Siân Busby.
Short Books, 157 pp., £5.99, June 2004, 1 904095 70 4
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... convent’s policy of denying Thérèse pain relief was elevated into suffering gladly embraced. Kathryn Harrison’s short life of Thérèse complements Monica Furlong’s 1987 study, and is in many ways more sympathetic. Neither biographer found the saint easy to like. Despite her sobriquet of the ‘Little Flower’, Thérèse was tough when her saintly ...

Too Good and Too Silly

Frank Kermode: Could Darcy Swim?, 30 April 2009

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen. Vol. IX: Later Manuscripts 
edited by Janet Todd and Linda Bree.
Cambridge, 742 pp., £65, December 2008, 978 0 521 84348 5
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Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World 
by Claire Harman.
Canongate, 342 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 1 84767 294 0
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... nothing of the promised gift. The little scene sounds like a parodic reminiscence of the scene in King Lear when Goneril and Regan reduce Lear’s retinue from 100 knights to none. The citation of a great many forgotten novels from which Austen probably learned something, the demonstration that she familiarised herself with ‘the disinheritance novel’ as a ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder, 12 March 1992

Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable, 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... begetter seems to have borrowed his middle name and misspelt it), was manifestly not an explorer. Kathryn Tidrick, in her admirable study, labels him an ‘adventurer’. He was a dedicated if rather unsuccessful marksman who achieved celebrity by writing, with some charm, about A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa (1881). Tidrick suggests that Selous, an old ...

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt, 21 May 2020

My Dark Vanessa 
by Kate Elizabeth Russell.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £12.99, March, 978 0 00 834224 1
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... it in 2018 for more than a million dollars. The blurbs from people like Gillian Flynn and Stephen King (‘stunning’, ‘gripping’, ‘brilliant’) led me to believe I was sitting down to a thriller, but there are no unexpected plot twists here. In a disclaimer, Russell says any similarities with her own upbringing – she grew up in Maine and withdrew ...

Cronyism and Clientelism

Peter Geoghegan, 5 November 2020

... committee’s first report – said to have been scribbled down in the back of a taxi by Anthony King – have become the rhetorical kitemark of ethical standards: integrity, objectivity, accountability, honesty, openness, selflessness and leadership.The Nolan Principles didn’t stop almost two hundred former ministers and senior civil servants taking up ...

To Serve My Friends

Jonathan Parry, 27 January 2022

Trust and Distrust: Corruption in Office in Britain and Its Empire, 1600-1850 
by Mark Knights.
Oxford, 488 pp., £35, December 2021, 978 0 19 879624 4
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... of trust’. They drew up a ‘black list’ of MPs who had accepted offices and rewards from the king, claiming that this was a conflict of interest. In 1700 and 1701, after the constitutional revolution of 1688, excise and then customs collectors were disqualified from sitting in Parliament for this reason. Earlier, in 1644, Parliament had established an ...

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