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The Ground Hostess

Francis Wyndham, 1 April 1983

... denials while talking on the telephone two separate personalities were brought into being: that of Linda and that of Tone. Tone, of course, was short for Tony, who originally acquired his name as a result of Harriet mis-hearing a remark of mine quite unconnected with the subject. The Electric Cinema was showing a Pasolini season and I must have volunteered ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... aim is to chronicle the career of the Kembles, brother and sister (the later dynasty is outside Linda Kelly’s scope). However, as the subtitle hints, it is also, in some indeterminate degree, a study of theatrical life in the period. It could also be described as group biography, since the principals have to share top billing with Mrs ...

Liking it and living it

Hugh Tulloch, 14 September 1989

by Linda Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... history could exert a crippling hold which only the historian, as therapist, could break. One of Linda Colley’s many triumphs is to encompass the immense complexity of Namier’s personality in such a brief space. Another is to tread with tact over many sensitive areas: the matter of academic anti-semitism and ostracism, Namier’s sometimes paranoid ...


Linda Colley, 9 July 1987

Richard Cobden: A Victorian Outsider 
by Wendy Hinde.
Yale, 379 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 300 03880 1
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Richard Cobden: Independent Radical 
by Nicholas Edsall.
Harvard, 479 pp., £23.95, February 1987, 0 674 76879 5
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... Crimean War, and to the encouragement of free trade and peaceful co-existence between Britain and France. His private life was as worthy as his politics. He cherished his wife and children, though of necessity he was often absent from them; he attended Anglican church services regularly; and even his quirks and eccentricities were shared by many other ...

I am the Watchman

Linda Colley: William Cobbett, forerunner of the Sun, 20 November 2003

William Cobbett: Selected Writings 
edited by Leonora Nattrass.
Pickering & Chatto, 2312 pp., £495, December 1998, 1 85196 375 8
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Rural rides 
by William Cobbett, edited by Ian Dyck.
Penguin, 576 pp., £9.99, September 2001, 0 14 043579 4
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... at New Brunswick. He returned to civilian life in Britain in 1791, and left almost immediately for France, eager to learn its language and witness its revolution. He then spent almost eight years in the United States, which was where he taught himself political journalism. Another extended trip to America in 1817 gave him the time and distance he needed to ...

We are all Scots here

Linda Colley: Scotland and Empire, 12 December 2002

The Scottish Empire 
by Michael Fry.
Tuckwell/Birlinn, 580 pp., £16.99, November 2002, 9781841582597
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... at one level a natural extension of the earlier migrations of individual Scots to Russia, Poland, France, Scandinavia or the Low Countries to trade, learn, fight and settle. Even after 1603, some Scots continued to attach themselves to rival, Continental European empires, while many dreamed of an extra-European empire of their own. In 1684, Robert Barclay, an ...

Multiple Kingdoms

Linda Colley: The origins of the British Empire, 19 July 2001

The Ideological Origins of the British Empire 
by David Armitage.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 59081 7
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... much better and freer than the earlier empire of Catholic Spain and the rival empire of Catholic France). Consequently, and in retrospect, the Reformation became a vital trigger of native imperial enterprise, the impetus, for instance, behind all those famous Elizabethan sea-dogs who attacked the treasure-ships limping home under their weight of cargo from ...

Scribbles in a Storm

Neal Ascherson: Who needs a constitution?, 1 April 2021

The Gun, the Ship and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions and the Making of the Modern World 
by Linda Colley.
Profile, 502 pp., £25, March, 978 1 84668 497 5
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... these documents seemed profoundly exotic.’ In spite of where she came from, which was England, Linda Colley became many years ago the first English intellectual to explain to her nation just how exotic ‘Britishness’ was. Now, with the same pioneering enthusiasm, she has produced a book about constitutions. Not the unwritten playground rules that ...

Not Many Dead

Linda Colley, 10 September 1992

Riot, Risings and Revolution: Governance and Violence in 18th-Century England 
by Ian Gilmour.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 09 175330 9
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... limb from limb between four horses like the man who tried to kill his contemporary Louis XV of France. To make these points is not to lend yet more credit to the myth of glorious English exceptionalism. Approaching 18th-century England primarily as a land overflowing with opportunity, wealth and boisterous freedoms is complacent and wrong. But equally ...

A Magazine of Wisdom

Linda Colley, 4 September 1997

Edmund Burke: A Life in Caricature 
by Nicholas Robinson.
Yale, 214 pp., £30, October 1996, 0 300 06801 8
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. III: Party, Parliament and the American War 1774-80 
edited by Warren Elofson and John Woods.
Oxford, 713 pp., £75, September 1996, 0 19 822414 1
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Edmund Burke and India: Political Morality and Empire 
by Frederick Whelan.
Pittsburgh, 384 pp., £39.95, December 1996, 0 8229 3927 4
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... reforming Burke of the 1780s one sees outlined the Burke of the Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Those who seek to explain the social conservatism of this text by arguing that Burke viewed traditional Whig landed power in Britain and Ireland as the precondition for commercial prosperity, need to ponder the fact that – as Whelan points out ...

Let them cut grass

Linda Colley, 16 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... being fat. These memoirs leave no doubt that Thatcher savoured her public dinners, especially in France, with predictable results. References to corsets crop up in many of her speeches quoted here. So, more self-consciously, does the explanation of why she likes tailored suits: ‘They also have the advantage of gently passing by the ...

Powered by Fear

Linda Colley: Putting the navy in its place, 3 February 2005

The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
Allen Lane, 907 pp., £30, September 2004, 0 7139 9411 8
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... rival, Catholic claimants to the British throne backed by the other main European naval powers, France and Spain. Even in the 1780s, Britain was engaged in a frantic naval race against these two countries, which France might have won. European imperatives, and persistent and legitimate fears that the Catholic powers would ...

Female Relationships

Stephen Bann, 1 July 1982

When things of the spirit come first 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Patrick O’Brian.
Deutsch, 212 pp., £6.95, July 1982, 0 233 97462 8
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Union Street 
by Pat Barker.
Virago, 266 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 9780860682820
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Lady Oracle 
by Margaret Atwood.
Virago, 346 pp., £3.50, June 1982, 0 86068 303 6
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Bodily Harm 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 302 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02016 1
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Hearts: A Novel 
by Hilma Wolitzer.
Harvester, 324 pp., £6.95, June 1982, 9780710804754
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by Amanda Hemingway.
Faber, 236 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 571 11875 5
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December Flower 
by Judy Allen.
Duckworth, 176 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 7156 1644 7
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... Scotus seems to be the focus of a minor cult in Paris – the subject of a recent symposium on France-Culture? ‘Chantal’ stops short at the prospect of the victim of a forced marriage living a loveless life on a small country property: Marthe, a recently published historical memoir, gives us the enthralling correspondence deriving from a similar case ...

Little More than an Extension of France

Hugo Young: The British Isles, 6 January 2000

The Isles: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Macmillan, 1222 pp., £30, November 1999, 9780333763704
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... country, after a century as a dependency of Denmark, became little more than an extension of France. The period of the Crusades, indeed, saw the beginning of something more than the Continent’s genetic aggrandisement: the reach of its culture overcame anything that could be called typically English. This happened elsewhere. ‘England, Sicily and ...

Apocalypse Two

R.W. Johnson: Rwanda’s genocide, 21 June 2001

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide 
by Linda Melvern.
Zed, 272 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 9781856498319
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... turned down by twenty British publishers and, until now, has not received a review in the UK – Linda Melvern believes that the Rwandan tragedy represents the unravelling of the new international order built on the defeat of Nazism. The Convention on Genocide was, she points out, the world’s first human rights treaty and if the UN was founded with one ...

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