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Problem Families

Ian Jack, 26 October 1989

From Moorepark to Wine Alley: The Rise and Fall of a Glasgow Housing Scheme 
by Sean Damer.
Edinburgh, 209 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 85224 622 6
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... imagined that a Briton’s (or at least an Englishman’s) perfect living arrangement was a two-storey cottage with a garden front and back. If the ‘garden cities’ of the Home Counties were the happiest consequences of this idea, then Moorepark, the subject of Sean Damer’s study, must be one of the saddest. Moorepark is not the most infamous of ...

What the Dickens

F.S. Schwarzbach, 5 April 1990

The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. VI: 1850-1852 
edited by Graham Storey, Kathleen Tillotson and Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 909 pp., £80, June 1988, 0 19 812617 4
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... One of the two plays in the repertoire was a farce Dickens co-authored for the occasion with Mark Lemon. All the while Dickens continued his management of Urania Cottage, Angela Burdett Coutts’s home for the reformation of prostitutes, supervising it daily on the most minute matters. He was constantly visiting magistrate’s courts, prisons and other ...


Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... the head of the movement for reform in London. (They also led to A New London, a book written with Mark Fisher, then Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Arts and Culture, which was essentially the Labour Party’s environment manifesto for the 1992 election.) In 1995, Rogers became the first architect to deliver the Reith Lectures. He spoke about the radical ...

Descent into Oddness

Dinah Birch: Peter Rushforth’s long-awaited second novel, 6 January 2005

Pinkerton’s Sister 
by Peter Rushforth.
Scribner, 729 pp., £18.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5235 7
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... out of your life carries less of a stigma than lager or Grand Theft Auto. It’s understood as a mark of educated cultivation, not wilful indulgence or evasion. Yet reading, like every other exercise of the imagination, can be abused, can turn into an addiction. The connection between this and other kinds of abuse is something that Peter Rushforth has been ...

Balls in Aquaria

Thomas Crow: Joseph Rykwert, 23 October 2008

The Judicious Eye: Architecture against the Other Arts 
by Joseph Rykwert.
Reaktion, 496 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 86189 358 1
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... account with his present concerns. Think of the confrontation between Philip Johnson and Mark Rothko, for example, both at the pinnacle of their professions in the 1960s. Rothko had always been fond of Valéry’s remark that to walk into a museum was like listening to ten orchestras all playing at the same time. He was never happy taking part in ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... their pleasure and their politics. Their homes, however, remained some of the worst in Britain. Mark Hudson’s Coming Back Brockens – subtitled ‘A Year in a Mining Village’ – extends this anti-heroic narrative, though from the standpoint of a travel writer and a man of letters rather than, as in Beatrix Campbell’s case, that of embattled ...

The Powyses

D.A.N. Jones, 7 August 1980

After My Fashion 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 286 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 330 26049 9
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Weymouth Sands 
by John Cowper Powys.
Picador, 567 pp., £2.95, June 1980, 0 330 26050 2
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Recollections of the Powys Brothers 
edited by Belinda Humfrey.
Peter Owen, 288 pp., £9.95, May 1980, 0 7206 0547 4
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John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study 
by Jeremy Hooker.
Enitharmon, 54 pp., £3.75, April 1979, 0 901111 85 6
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The Hollowed-Out Elder Stalk 
by Roland Mathias.
Enitharmon, 158 pp., £4.85, May 1979, 0 901111 87 2
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John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest 
by Morine Krissdottir.
Macdonald, 218 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 354 04492 3
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... Dr Leavis’s admiration for T.F. Powys, Dylan Thomas spoke of the little village of ‘Upper Storey’: ‘a small, lunatic area of Wessex, full of saintly or reprehensible vicars, wanton maidens, biblical sextons and old men called Parsnip or Dottle ... Everyone in this sophisticatedly contrived bucolic morality, has his or her obsession: Minnie Wurzel ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... transferred excessive loads to the remaining columns. As these loads became unsustainable, one storey collapsed on the next in a ‘pancake’ effect. The towers were designed to cope with the obvious threats, such as earth tremors and strong winds, but, like the Lusitania, were almost defenceless against something novel. To focus on the technology of ...

A Smile at My Own Temerity

John Barrell: William Hogarth, 16 February 2017

William Hogarth: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings 
by Elizabeth Einberg.
Yale, 432 pp., £95, November 2016, 978 0 300 22174 9
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... its distant, sunlit hill; on one side of the road is a pub, the Adam and Eve, on the other a four-storey inn-cum-brothel, with whores leaning out of every sash window and looking down on the mayhem in the street below. During the Jacobite invasion of 1745, this is where soldiers were required to muster prior to marching off to the encampment on Finchley ...

His Friends Were Appalled

Deborah Friedell: Dickens, 5 January 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens 
by John Forster.
Cambridge, 1480 pp., £70, December 2011, 978 1 108 03934 5
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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist 
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
Harvard, 389 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 674 05003 7
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Charles Dickens: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 527 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 670 91767 9
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... Dickens as he did. Long out of print, his life is now reissued by Cambridge University Press to mark Dickens’s bicentenary. John Sutherland has added them up: there have now been at least 90 biographies. Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens comes just two years after Michael Slater’s excellent Charles Dickens, the first to benefit from the complete ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... the new apartments. In 1967, the Democratic National Committee took over the sixth floor of the 11-storey office building. Here, on the night of 17 June 1972, five burglars were caught trying to plant a bug. The group comprised an electronics expert, James McCord, and four Cuban-Americans from Miami. It didn’t take the police and the FBI long to discover ...

I even misspell intellectual

Rupert Thomson: Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor, 2 April 2020

The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon 
edited by Christine Flanagan.
Georgia, 272 pp., £31.95, October 2018, 978 0 8203 5408 8
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... complex’. Her father, Edward O’Connor, was an estate agent, and she grew up in a four-storey house in Savannah, Georgia, but she seems to have chafed against the gentility of her surroundings. ‘I was born disenchanted,’ she later said. Aged ten, she wrote a book called My Relatives. According to her mother, Regina, ‘no one was ...

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen, 4 June 2020

Tastes of Honey: The Making of Shelagh Delaney and a Cultural Revolution 
by Selina Todd.
Chatto, 304 pp., £18.99, August 2019, 978 1 78474 082 5
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A Taste of Honey 
by Shelagh Delaney.
Methuen, 112 pp., £14.44, November 2019, 978 1 350 13495 9
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... Todd’s careful reconstruction of Delaney’s background and childhood shows just how wide of the mark this is. Yes, Delaney was solidly working class, born in Salford in 1938 to Joseph Delaney, a bus driver of Irish extraction, and his wife, Elsie Twemlow, the daughter of millworkers. Yes, they moved around: Shelagh, her mother and her grandmother to a flat ...


Jordan Sand: In Tokyo, 28 April 2011

... and its first television cartoon series, Astro Boy (known in Japan as ‘Iron-Arm Atom’), mark the poles of public sentiment in this early period of nuclear power. Godzilla, made in late 1954 in direct response to the Bikini incident, depicts a monster born of the hydrogen bomb who breathes radioactive fire. But it also shows Tokyo being saved from ...

Porringers and Pitkins

Keith Thomas: The Early Modern Household, 5 July 2018

A Day at Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 
by Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson.
Yale, 311 pp., £40, October 2017, 978 0 300 19501 9
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... Their language is different, and so is their subject matter, but their approach resembles that of Mark Girouard thirty years ago in Life in the English Country House. The book’s splendid illustrations make it a pleasure to turn the pages, but the text itself is uningratiatingly printed in smallish type, with two columns on each page. Moreover, Hamling and ...

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