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Our Soft-Shelled Condition

Katha Pollitt: Corsets, 14 November 2002

The Corset: A Cultural History 
by Valerie Steele.
Yale, 204 pp., £29.95, September 2001, 0 300 09071 4
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Bound to Please: A History of the Victorian Corset 
by Leigh Summers.
Berg, 302 pp., £15.99, October 2001, 9781859735107
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... by Madonna and beloved by the transgendered, has re-emerged as outerwear. In Bound to Please, Leigh Summers acknowledges the complexities emphasised by the revisionists, but rejects their celebratory tone. A corset-burner, she still thinks that 19th-century corsets were instruments of oppression, a word she does not shrink from using. For ...

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... life up to 1946 when the letters begin. She was born in 1913; ‘during the last of the long hot summers before the First World War,’ he notes, reviving yet again the idea that the country and the weather lost their charm at the same time. (I thought the summer of 1911 was the really hot one.) Her parents were both the children of Souls, her mother a ...

Adulation or Eggs

Susan Eilenberg: At home with the Carlyles, 7 October 2004

Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Portrait of a Marriage 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Pimlico, 560 pp., £15, February 2003, 0 7126 6634 6
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... about her illnesses (and not Jane’s) that he worried, with her that he spent most of his summers, sometimes with Jane, more often without. Though barely able to read, she nevertheless taught her young son his letters, and in recompense he later taught her to write. His early years were a muddle: an uneven education at the hands of local schoolmasters ...

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