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Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp

1 May 1980
A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... sixties she wrote three books which made her famous as an articulate inhabitant of that strange planet, the countryside. The books in the trilogy called Lark Rise to Candleford give vigorous accounts of a childhood spent in fields and villages: where hamlet dwellers had a standard supper of bacon and roly-poly pudding, the Squire’s daughter was known as ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... is raised that the sturdily ineloquent mill-owner Mr Thornton can rise to the rhetorical level of Margaret Hale: I belong to Teutonic blood; it is little mingled in this part of England to what it is in others; we retain much of their language; we retain more of their spirit . . . We hate to have laws made for us at a distance. We wish people would allow us ...

Come hungry, leave edgy

Sukhdev Sandhu: Brick Lane

9 October 2003
Brick Lane 
by Monica Ali.
Doubleday, 413 pp., £12.99, June 2003, 9780385604840
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... Brick Lane used to be the home of the dead. For centuries it was part of a Roman burial ground, an unclean extremity lying beyond the walls of the City of London. In 1603, a quarter of a century after bricks began to be manufactured here, John Stow described its buildings as ‘filthy cottages’. Since then, the area, whether one calls it Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, Banglatown, has been a byword for poverty and violence ...

On the Road

Alice Spawls

8 February 2018
... and lettering; swathes of colour to demark green cycle zones, blue for cycle highways, red for bus lanes. Tarmac itself comes in endless shades, though most of them grey, and textures: smooth and light (good for speeding down); dark and gravelly; a nice mauve for patched-up bits. Great seams are sketched out on the fabric in shiny black latex piping, and the ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism

22 November 2018
Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... models of Adolf Hitler and the National Front’s Martin Webster. The route passed Brick Lane, scene of recurring clashes between the Front and the local Bengali population. Red Saunders was the compère. He had grown enormous sideburns, and wore a hat covered in badges and a ‘Mr Oligarchy’ cape. The punk singer-songwriter Patrik Fitzgerald came ...
4 August 1988
Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... Betjeman, who would have adored subtle pentameters like ‘The irregular line of elms by the deep lane’. And like Sonnets from the Portuguese, which Robert Browning had advised Elizabeth to present as translations, and which were not published as her own until her death, Aurora Leigh is a remarkable tribute to the way in which new female ...

Large and Rolling

Penelope Fitzgerald

31 July 1997
The Scholar Gypsy: The Quest for a Family Secret 
by Anthony Sampson.
Murray, 229 pp., £16, May 1997, 0 7195 5708 9
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... with which I would hail the thin smoke of a Gypsy wagon curling among the trees in some country lane, or the delight I experienced when “drawing out” some venerable Gypsy’. The Gypsy had to be venerable because the Rai had set himself to reconstruct the ‘deep Romani’ which lay behind the broken modern dialects, and could be found only among the ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre

8 January 2015
Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... Shakespearean associations, invisible but well attested. Down an alleyway running south off Carter Lane lies New Bell Yard. Now dominated by the glass-fronted atrium of the Grange St Paul’s Hotel, this was formerly the site of the Bell Inn. In the 1590s its landlady was a Mistress Greffine or Griffin, and among its frequent guests was a Stratford businessman ...

Owning Mayfair

David Cannadine

2 April 1981
Survey of London. Vol. 40: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2. The Buildings 
edited by F.H.W. Sheppard.
Athlone, 428 pp., £55, August 1980, 0 485 48240 1
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... rebirth, and the account of the 19th-century grandeur, and 20th-century transformation, of Park Lane. The delicious effect of all this is to make the reader an eavesdropper on architects at work and aristocrats at play. We meet Robert Adam giving 26 Grosvenor Square its magnificent 18th-century interiors; J.T. Wimperis concocting his splendid fin-de-siècle ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London

19 June 2008
... time which reduces every labour myth to dust, Maxwell Joseph acquired the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. The brewery – with its stables, cellars, cooperage, cobbled yards – acted, along with the Spitalfields fruit and veg market and Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, as a buffer-reef against the encroachment of the City. A benevolent and paternalistic ...
30 January 1992
The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography 
introduced by Ann Lane.
University of Wisconsin Press, 341 pp., £10.45, April 1991, 0 299 12740 0
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Non-Fiction Reader 
edited by Larry Ceplair.
Columbia, 345 pp., £20.50, December 1991, 0 231 07617 7
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... as too womanish, and in the tradition of such other feminist intellectuals as Mary Wollstonecraft, Margaret Fuller and Beatrice Webb, regarded her stories and poems as sugar-coated pills. ‘I have never made any pretence of being literary,’ she wrote in the autobiography; and even describing her own life did not interest her very much, for ‘my real ...

Speaking for England

Patrick Parrinder

21 May 1987
The Radiant Way 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 396 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 297 79095 1
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Change 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 224 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 9780413576408
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Moon Tiger 
by Penelope Lively.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 233 98107 1
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The Maid of Buttermere 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 415 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 340 40173 7
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Stray 
by A.N. Wilson.
Walker, 175 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 7445 0801 0
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... silence. That was The Ice Age (1977), but there are very similar passages in The Radiant Way. Margaret Drabble’s later novels are settled, capacious, Condition-of-England chronicles, prolonged ruminations on the way we live now. Echoes of the classic novelists are much in evidence. There is an abundance of lists of small facts and of local colour, and ...

Snakes and Leeches

Rosemary Hill: The Great Stink

4 January 2018
One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 300 22726 0
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... specialist scandal sheets in business. One of the most entertaining was Robinson v. Robinson and Lane. Henry Robinson had read his wife Isabella’s diary and found that not only did she dislike him intensely but she had recorded in considerable detail a passionate affair with Edward Lane, the doctor at whose cure ...

Mother One, Mother Two

Jeremy Harding: A memoir

31 March 2005
... me with the machinery of my investigation and informed me of the name of my natural mother – Margaret Walsh – which my adoptive mother had only ever hazarded or garbled. But after a few days in the Family Records Centre in London, it was clear that there’d be work to do: the number of Margaret Walshes qualifying as ...
22 May 1986
The past is a foreign country 
by David Lowenthal.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £27.50, November 1985, 0 521 22415 2
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... when he wrote about his youth. A generation later, Harold Pinter, strolling down Memory Lane, identified a past ‘you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend to remember’. At the collective level, the past is continuously altered – indeed manipulated and mutilated – to suit the present. The motives are ...

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