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To Stir up the People

John Barrell: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm, 23 January 2014

Unusual Suspects: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Oxford, 376 pp., £30, July 2013, 978 0 19 965780 3
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... the war and to fix a French taint to the movement to reform a thoroughly corrupt parliament. Kenneth Johnston’s Unusual Suspects are men and women who fell foul of ‘Pitt’s determination to crush his domestic opponents’ and whose lives, careers, reputations were irrevocably damaged as a result. They were members of a brilliant generation 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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... repudiating them. Academic critics are often enamoured of Wordsworth’s youthful allegiances. Kenneth Johnston’s The Hidden Wordsworth is almost mystically committed to the idea of his youth. Its prologue declares that, with all the reverence (and matching irreverence) the poet has inspired, there is one image, or story, that we have not seen ...


Matthew Bevis: William Hazlitt, 6 November 2008

New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume I 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 507 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923573 5
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New Writings of William Hazlitt: Volume II 
edited by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 553 pp., £120, September 2007, 978 0 19 923574 2
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William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man 
by Duncan Wu.
Oxford, 557 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 19 954958 0
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... Andrew Motion speculates that ‘Keats may have gone to brothels in Oxford and London’, and that Kenneth Johnston draws attention to ‘the realities of Cambridge between 1787 and 1791’ while Wordsworth was there. So there was a lot of it about. Wu’s initial claim about these individuals – presented as fact in the main text – lacks proper ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... grateful for Taylor’s good opinion; and Coleridge, he assured Taylor, was properly penitent. As Kenneth Johnston has written: ‘If one were trying to cover over traces of youthful Jacobinism, what better way than to send a book of reformed poems to a potentially virulent enemy, and then follow it up with a fawning reply agreeing with his strictures ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... non-resignations can in many ways be as disgraceful as resignations. The leading figure here is Kenneth Baker, who perfected a theory about why he should slay as Home Secretary despite the succession of calamities that surrounded him, until he was eventually jettisoned by the Prime Minister after the 1992 election. Holding steadfastly to the view that ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... In Berkeley, he took classes with the historian Ernst Kantorowicz, became friends with the poets Kenneth Rexroth and Robin Blaser, and formed an intense alliance with Jack Spicer that set the stage for the San Francisco Renaissance and later curdled into an open and often hostile rivalry. During one energetic six-month period he met or made contact with ...

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