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Jerusalem

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 December 1981

Me Again: Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Jack Barbera and William McBrien.
Virago, 359 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 9780860682172
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... Stevie Smith said that she was straightforward, but not simple, which is a version of not waving but drowning. She presented to the world the face which is invented when reticence goes over to the attack, and becomes mystification. If you visited Blake and were told not to sit on a certain chair because it was for the spirit of Michelangelo, or if Emily Dickinson handed you a single flower, you needed time to find out how far the mystification was meant to keep you at a distance, and to give you something to talk about when you got home ...

Maiden Aunt

Colin Kidd: Adam Smith, 7 October 2010

Adam SmithAn Enlightened Life 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Allen Lane, 345 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 7139 9396 7
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Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and moral theory 
by Fonna Forman-Barzilai.
Cambridge, 286 pp., £55, March 2010, 978 0 521 76112 3
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... I’m sometimes told that the Scots don’t like Thatcherism,’ Margaret Thatcher told the Scottish Conservative Conference in 1988. ‘Well, I find that hard to believe – because the Scots invented Thatcherism, long before I was thought of.’ The Scot she meant was Adam Smith, a figure popularly identified as the founder of economics, an apostle of capitalism and honoured prophet of the new right ...

Palmers Greenery

Susannah Clapp, 19 December 1985

Stevie 
by Jack Barbera and William McBrien.
Heinemann, 378 pp., £15, November 1985, 0 434 44105 8
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... This biography gets off to a bad start with its title. The writer called Stevie Smith was also a celebrity called Stevie – a spiky sprite who was famous for being unfashionable. This creature thrived on being a spinster, which licensed her to be a bit cuckoo, and on speaking her hard words from a spindly frame decked out like a schoolgirl’s – as if it were a feat to think behind a fringe ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin, 9 June 1994

... Like many others I have been puzzled by the reaction to John Smith’s death. It was reported as though it were at least that of a prime minister, and his funeral was, as the BBC noted, in effect a state funeral. The decision of both the BBC and ITV to double the ordinary length of their evening news broadcasts on the day of his death could be put down to the social democratish inclinations of the programmers, but the speed with which the coverage had to be assembled suggests that it was more instinctive ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... and Lady Mount Cashell, Helena Jane and me pack’d in the Family Coach, with Mary Lawless, Mary Smith, Blanchois, and William in another carriage, driving full speed, nine Irish Adventurers, to the French dominions.’ Two at least of these Irish adventurers were as ready as William Wordsworth had been a decade earlier to feel what bliss it was to be ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... in the home he had chosen for them, and his frustrations grew dark. Recently, when the actor Matt Smith was introduced to Prince William and the prince was told Smith would soon be playing his grandfather in an epic Netflix series, The Crown, William offered only one word. ‘Legend,’ he said, as if they were talking ...

Never mind the neighbours

Margaret Anne Doody, 4 April 1996

Delphine 
by Germaine de Staël, translated by Avriel Goldberger.
Northern Illinois, 468 pp., $50, September 1995, 0 87580 200 1
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... in English literature. The novel has strong connections with the ‘Jacobin’ novels of Charlotte Smith, William Godwin, Amelia Opie and Thomas Holcroft. The use of engagements and marriages as symptoms of the state of society belongs peculiarly to Charlotte Smith as a Revolutionary subject. To ...

Very Inbred

Helen McCarthy: Coeducation Revolutions, 10 May 2018

‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation 
by Nancy Weiss Malkiel.
Princeton, 646 pp., £22.95, May 2018, 978 0 691 18111 0
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... schools in the US, including Vassar and Sarah Lawrence, meanwhile, began to admit men, as did Lady Margaret Hall and St Anne’s in Oxford, and Girton in Cambridge. In an extraordinarily short space of time, coeducation had ceased to be a distant possibility and was in widespread operation. One obvious explanation for the speed with which single-sex education ...

History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... by the entry first consulted can be led on a treasure hunt for further clues. Start with Adam Smith and you find a picture and a few key dates in his career. But see Free Trade. Here not only the meaning of the term but also the influence of the policy is suggested. See Richard Cobden. This leads us to the Anti-Corn Law League, and in turn to John ...

Presto!

James Buchan, 14 December 1995

The Life of Adam Smith 
by Ian Simpson Ross.
Oxford, 495 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 19 828821 2
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... their sleeping bags a thousand feet below, there is a sentence that lets you peer right into Adam Smith’s world. He is talking about Cameron of Lochiel, whose decision, against his better judgment, to come out for Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 won the clans for the Pretender and doomed the ancient culture of the Highlands to extinction. ‘That ...

Can I have my shilling back?

Peter Campbell, 19 November 1992

Epstein: Artist against the Establishment 
by Stephen Gardiner.
Joseph, 532 pp., £20, September 1992, 9780718129446
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... met Degas and Rodin. He had also been singled out by the woman who was to become his first wife: Margaret Dunlop, a Scot, ten years his senior and married. She divorced and became Mrs Epstein in 1906, which she remained until she died 41 years later, having acted as mother to some of his children, managed his financial affairs, acquiesced in his love affairs ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess MargaretA Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... in ‘daylight upon magic’. But the damn phrase is inescapable. The fascination of Princess Margaret, I suspect, is that she was the forerunner of the public, vulgar Windsor style: now such a drag but then such a sensation. If you were a commoner of average social mobility in London in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, there was a better than average ...

Tit for Tat

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 December 1989

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology 
edited by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 555 pp., £20, September 1989, 0 19 811769 8
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... is felt usually more in short lines than long, though some, such as Yearsley and Charlotte Smith, are successful in iambic pentameter blank verse. Poets from Rowe through Yearsley sometimes express an impatient sense of the limitations of language itself, ‘the human line/ Of alphabets (misused)’ (Yearsley), even while they express pleasure in ...

Spinoza got it

Margaret Jacob: Radical Enlightenment, 8 November 2012

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy 
by Jonathan Israel.
Princeton, 276 pp., £13.95, September 2011, 978 0 691 15260 8
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... selectively, finding value in Locke on government, or praising the free market philosophy of Adam Smith. Those were the days (to paraphrase Todd Gitlin) when the right got the White House and the left got the English departments, where the Enlightenment was seen as quaint at best and as the source of Western claims to superiority at worst. The battles of the ...

Earls’ Sons

E.S. Turner, 20 October 1983

The Man who was Greenmantle: A Biography of Aubrey Herbert 
by Margaret FitzHerbert.
Murray, 250 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 7195 4067 4
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A Classic Connection 
by Michael Seth-Smith.
Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 436 44705 3
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... ripe enough to be king of Albania, a country which twice offered him the throne? After finishing Margaret FitzHerbert’s excellent book the reader may be in two minds; at least King Aubrey would have wielded the sceptre with more panache than Lord Rothermere on the throne of Hungary. Herbert was the son of the fourth Earl of Carnarvon. His half-brother, the ...

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