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No wonder it ached

Dinah Birch: George Eliot

13 May 1999
The Journals of George Eliot 
edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston.
Cambridge, 447 pp., £55, February 1999, 0 521 57412 9
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George Eliot: The Last Victorian 
by Kathryn Hughes.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 85702 420 6
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... George Eliot’s Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals (‘a Reticence in three volumes’, Gladstone called it), and some in Gordon Haight’s magisterial work as editor and biographer. MargaretHarris and Judith Johnston have now provided a very welcome and complete edition of all the diaries and journals, covering the years between Eliot’s union with Lewes in 1854, when she was 35, and ...

Tuesday Girl

Colin Burrow: Seraphick Love

6 March 2003
Transformations of Love: The Friendship of John Evelyn and Margaret​ Godolphin 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 330 pp., £25, January 2003, 0 19 925257 2
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... now looks suspiciously unerotic. Evelyn seems genuinely to have attempted to live out these fictions. Then, in 1669, Evelyn, aged 49, met a 17-year-old Maid of Honour of the Duchess of York called Margaret Blagge. She enters the diary first as ‘the excellent Mrs Blagg’ and then rapidly becomes ‘my particular Devota’. In 1672 she asked the diarist to look after her affairs, to be her ‘friend ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... In the dismal mid-Seventies Patrick Cosgrave, later to be Margaret Thatcher’s adviser and biographer, took me to a Friday luncheon at the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte Street. Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’

15 December 2016
... we have to contend with the randy bonhomie of old King George. It is said that American viewers are distressed to find the word ‘cunt’ used in the first episode, spoken by George VI (Jared Harris) to his valet, but perhaps this is merely the latest in a long line of gifts from Britain to the former colonies, a way, shall we say, of normalising, even dignifying such laxity in the naming of ...

Schadenfreude

R.W. Johnson

2 December 1993
The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret​ Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... What Tory MPs really wanted,’ Margaret Thatcher writes of the Westland affair, ‘was leadership, frankness and a touch of humility, all of which I tried to provide.’ A great deal of indignant energy has fired the reviews of this book ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin

5 September 1996
Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... name. ACOG imagineering culminated in the procession that traditionally opens the Games. The parade paused only at the three sacred sites that anchor Atlanta’s claim to world fame – the homes of Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King Jr and Coca-Cola. Seen through Rutheiser’s ironic, cold eye these nodes mark the fault lines of a disintegrative urban history. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind ...
21 November 1991
A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... burning all the letters she sent to both of them. For all these reasons, studies of this remarkable woman have in the past been numerous but in the main soft-centred, preoccupied – as Frances Harris puts it – with her ‘tempestuous personal relationships’. Harris’s own book, by contrast, is founded on careful research in some twenty-five different archives on both sides of the Atlantic ...

At the Shops

Alice Spawls

21 September 2016
... hung too low. Faded glamour only enhances the real (if predictable) glamour of red silk, gold lamé skirts and pink brocade. The black velvet dress with the ruffle collar would be perfect for Margaret of Anjou. Burberry has no drama at all. It’s not the fault of the collection, which has a sort of glam rock decadence (the 1970s are much in evidence on Bond Street this autumn), but of the lack of ...
23 May 1996
After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... why I was bothering with those dusty Edwardians. ‘Don’t you see? They were wrong, my dear fellow’ – that was all he knew and all I needed to know. In anthropology two experiences stand out. Margaret Mead recalled that when she was a girl she and her sister foraged excitedly and a bit furtively in The Golden Bough because Frazer was the only author in their parents’ large library with anything ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... Alison Lurie) and computers. ‘Art’ in particular contains some notable essays, among them Walter Ong on subway graffiti, and the section opens with a splendidly passionate and ambitious piece by Margaret Doody on the revision of the hymnal used by Princeton University Chapel, a booklet called ‘Inconclusive Language Hymns’ which is produced by the First Congregational Church. From here, Doody ...

The View from Moscow

Boris Kagarlitsky

20 April 1989
... and ideological motivation are certainly necessary for success in politics. But are they sufficient? No political leader can be understood in isolation from his or her opponents. For Kenneth Harris,* unfortunately, the Social Democrat and Labour leaders have only walkon parts in the drama, and frequently, as in the case of Scargill and Livingstone, are presented as caricatures, deserving ...

Landlord of the Moon

David Craig: Scottish islands

21 February 2002
Sea Room: An Island Life 
by Adam Nicolson.
HarperCollins, 391 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 00 257164 1
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... to tie up his dinghy, which had drifted out and shattered on the rocks: ‘Nigel entered the freezing waters of the Minch, swam out to the boat and returned to the beach with a rope. Elizabeth and Margaret stood waiting in their floral prints. Nigel tied them on, one by one, and they swam out towards the herring drifter, speechless with cold, while their skirts spread like peonies around them.’ When ...

Superchild

John Bayley

6 September 1984
The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... Diary prove one thing it is that, for a creative artist, they were no substitute for introspection. Turning back a volume or two we come to the dinner party in January 1930 with the Harrises. Bogey Harris was apparently quite a character. In her account, unerring as it clearly is, he ceases to be one, as do his womenfolk and the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, ‘an unimpressive man; eyes ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing

23 August 2001
A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris​ and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... World War, the future of the British Air Force was guaranteed by Mohammed Abdille Hassan, the troublesome ‘mad Mullah’ of Somaliland, who was bombed into submission within a week. Arthur (Bomber) Harris was a squadron leader in the Third Afghan war of 1919, and pioneered the strategy of ‘control without occupation’ in Iraq, which entailed sprinkling fire on straw-roofed huts: ‘within forty ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham

4 October 2001
The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret​ Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... including his powerful elegies to Wynter, Hilton and Lanyon) which at last brought him a sizable audience. The Nightfisherman, a selection of Graham’s letters by his friends Michael and Margaret Snow, with 19 poems, photographs, drawings and his essay ‘Notes on a Poetry of Release’, is the most useful and revealing book on the poet yet published and sets out the clearest record of his ...

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