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Unruly Sweet Peas

Alison Light: Working-Class Gardens, 18 December 2014

The Gardens of the British Working Class 
by Margaret Willes.
Yale, 413 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 0 300 18784 7
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... Apple is out this month.) Less has been written about the history of working-class gardeners. As Margaret Willes acknowledges, the majority of the working classes didn’t have the time or money to cultivate a garden until the 20th century; the worst off, those in cramped tenements or industrial back-to-backs built in the 19th century, had little if any ...


Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... when shed by a notorious tough nut, such as Oliver Cromwell, Lord Eldon, Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher. The Protector was repeatedly denounced for his ostentatious pretences of piety and feeling: he was ‘fluent in his tears’, endowed with ‘spungy eyes and a supple conscience’. In The Masque of Anarchy, Shelley sneers at Lord Chancellor ...

How we declare war

Conor Gearty: Blair, the Law and the War, 3 October 2002

... to fight the war declared with such bureaucratic precision some ten days later. As it turned out, Margaret Thatcher didn’t bother to declare war in 1982 so Sir Gerald’s advice wasn’t required. Nor was war declared against Iraq in 1991 or 1998 or even in the Balkans in 1999. This is not because the executive has any anxieties about the Royal Prerogative ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... made him the upper classes’ favourite, and most expensive, legal confidant. In 1865, Sir James Willes wept as he sentenced Constance Kent to death for suffocating her little brother and hiding his body in the vault of an outside privy. That’s the sort of court-room occasion the Victorians loved. Newspaper agitation for the commuting of death sentences ...

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