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22 May 1986
Victorian News and Newspapers 
by Lucy Brown.
Oxford, 305 pp., £32.50, November 1985, 0 19 822624 1
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... he was relieved not only when the reporters came in dozens but when the artist of the Illustrated London News was allowed to make drawings of the buildings, the objects inside them, and the crowds. LucyBrown does not choose this particular example of the demand for press publicity on the part of a Victorian organiser, but she gives many examples from the 1850s and later of the demand for it on the ...

Want-of-Tin and Want-of-Energy

Dinah Birch: The lives of the Rossettis

20 May 2004
The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume One 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 464 pp., £95, July 2002, 9780859915281
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The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume Two 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 640 pp., £95, July 2002, 0 85991 637 5
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William and LucyThe Other Rossettis 
by Angela Thirlwell.
Yale, 376 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 300 10200 3
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... he had an unquestioned role, and a kind of status. Nevertheless, a suggestion of pained unfulfilment lingers around his life. Something similar might be said of the woman William married – Lucy Madox Brown, the daughter of Ford Madox Brown and his first wife, Elizabeth Bromley. Lucy seems to have been pushed to the side when Elizabeth died. Relations with Brown’s second wife, Emma, and ...
24 October 1991
Ford Madox Brown​ and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle 
by Teresa Newman and Ray Watkinson.
Chatto, 226 pp., £50, July 1991, 0 7011 3186 1
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... Ford Madox Brown’s greatest picture is called Work, and it depicts the laying of a sewer. It is not beautiful. But that is part of Brown’s point, for he was after qualities that counted for more than beauty. Its subject was carefully chosen. Brown knew that sewers mattered. The threat of cholera haunted Mid-Victorian England, and ...
24 September 1992
The Last Magician 
by Janette Turner Hospital et al.
Virago, 352 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85381 325 7
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Vinland 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 232 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 7195 5149 8
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... rituals of a children’s game. The novel’s polemic, then, is loud and forthright: but there’s a good deal of apparatus to dismantle before we can arrive at it. The narrator of these events is Lucy, a call-girl turned TV researcher, who is a generation younger than the traumatised quartet but becomes a close friend of both Charlie and Catherine, as well as having an affair with Robinson Gray ...

Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... from Uncle Tom to Nigger Jim to Porgy and Bess and Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury. The Americans, under the guidance first of the great W.E.B DuBois, then of the poets Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, and next a line of novelists headed by Richard Wright, began the task of reclamation about two generations earlier than the Caribbean writers who identified – if one can nowadays put it that way ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: When is a planet not a planet?

18 August 2005
... System. It’s currently known only as 2003 UB313, because it was first seen – or, rather, ‘the data from which the object was discovered were obtained’, as one of its discoverers, Michael Brown, carefully puts it – in the second half of October 2003 (the 21st fortnight of the year; U is the 21st letter of the alphabet). Brown and his colleagues, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz, have ...

The Bad Thing

Lidija Haas: Ariel Levy’s Memoir

3 May 2017
The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir 
by Ariel Levy.
Fleet, 207 pp., £16.99, March 2017, 978 0 349 00529 4
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... it’s the only job that allows you to go anywhere and do whatever you like. This version of Levy wants only the good parts of everything: both security and thrills. When she falls in love (with Lucy, who was someone else’s girlfriend), she wants to get married but assumes she shouldn’t have to be monogamous. The freedoms she aspires to are in some sense masculine: no limits, no encumbrances ...

Marksmanship

John Sutherland

14 November 1996
From Potter’s Field 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Warner, 405 pp., £5.99, June 1996, 0 7515 1630 9
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Cause of Death 
by Patricia Cornwell.
Little, Brown, 342 pp., £9.99, October 1996, 0 316 87885 5
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... for Scribner, was published in 1995. Her agreement with Putnam for three more Scarpetta mysteries guaranteed her $24 million for the North American rights. British rights were disposed of to Little, Brown and their paperback subsidiary Warner Books for a reported £2 million. A film of From Potter’s Field is in production. An exultant Cornwell described the Putnam deal as ‘the biggest ever for a ...

Never Seen a Violet

Dinah Birch: Victorian men and girls

6 September 2001
Men in Wonderland: The Lost Girlhood of the Victorian Gentleman 
by Catherine Robson.
Princeton, 250 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 691 00422 6
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... remembers ‘when we both were clothed alike’. Only later, at the start of their formal education, did boys enter a more markedly masculine sphere – an experience finely dramatised in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. The growing boy is removed from the inadequate female guidance of mother, sisters and nursery-maid, and socialised in the exclusively masculine institution of a public school. Girls ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald

1 July 1982
Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... even in the nursery. In 1882 Charlotte was sent to the Gower Street School, which had connections with Bedford College. Here, at the age of 14, she fell violently in love with her headmistress, Lucy Harrison. Miss Harrison was one of the great educationalists of the turn of the century. ‘There was something royal in her nature,’ Octavia Hill wrote. There was also a strongly masculine element ...

Missingness

John Bayley

24 March 1994
Christina Rossetti: A Biography 
by Frances Thomas.
Virago, 448 pp., £9.99, February 1994, 1 85381 681 7
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... it was a Last Goodnight, or seeing your love dressed all in white, but come back only from the grave. The Victorians revelled in it. Stephen Foster’s audience grieved for Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, the lost one ‘who comes not again’. The big Romantics all had their more portentous versions, from Lucy ceasing to be, to Shelley’s solipsistic sad heart, filled with grief ‘but with ...

Fellow Freaks

Sam Thompson: Wells Tower

9 July 2009
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned 
by Wells Tower.
Granta, 238 pp., £10.99, April 2009, 978 1 84708 048 6
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... failed entrepreneurs, bitter carnies, bullied children and men on the run. As the collection’s title suggests, they are prone to destructive acts. The protagonist of the opening story, ‘The Brown Coast’, is typical in that he has inflicted violence on his own life: after losing his job through incompetence, his inheritance due to rear-ending an attorney, and his wife by having an affair ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee

22 January 2004
Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... discretion. Berenson’s rage at her calm appropriation of his ideas was as baffling to Lee as the better-masked anger of Henry James, when he discovered that the novel she had dedicated to him, Miss Brown, contained diminishing portraits of a large number of his acquaintances. William and Lucy Rossetti appeared as a stodgy reviewer with a shallow, garrulous wife obsessed by the charms of her children ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach

25 June 1987
Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... Bernice Slote, Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Mildred Bennett and Elizabeth Moorhead. Her earlier biographers had all been men who shielded her gallantly from any disrepute and in some cases – E.K. Brown, James Woodress – raised her to the rare air of perfection of her own fictional goddesses, heroines like Alexandra, Antonia and Thea. Her female friends idolised her and her male biographers ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons

19 April 2017
A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... she was already aware of her tendency, and her relationship with Edward was always counterpoised by other passionate bonds: somewhere on the scene was always an Ellen, Annie, Charlotte, Ethel, Susan, Lucy. Most of these friendships began with what Minnie called the ‘My God, what a woman!’ stage, progressing from awe-struck enthusiasm to endless letter-writing, pet-names and hand-kissing. It’s ...

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