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Like a Flamingo

Tom Shippey: Viking Treasure, 24 February 2022

The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure 
by Martin Goldberg and Mary Davis.
National Museums Scotland, 128 pp., £9.99, February 2021, 978 1 910682 40 1
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... an exhibition of the hoard (at Kirkcudbright Galleries until 10 July), Martin Goldberg and Mary Davis suggest that the top layer was a ‘decoy’. If someone tried to make off with the hoard, or a piece was turned up by ploughing, the discoverers would find the cross and the silver and be so pleased that they didn’t look any further. (In which ...


Philip Davis: Thomas Arnold’s Apostasies, 15 April 2004

A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 274 pp., £25, July 2003, 0 19 925741 8
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... grounds’. Those grounds continually shifted. Even when he did please Julia and their daughter, Mary, by retreating from Rome in 1865, Arnold had to turn and face his Catholic friends, as here in the awkwardly long sentences of a letter to Josephine Benison. ‘I know how it will grieve you, and how it will alter and lower your opinion of me,’ he ...

Divided We Grow

John Barrell: When Pitt Panicked, 5 June 2003

The London Corresponding Society 1792-99 
edited by Michael T. Davis.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, June 2002, 1 85196 734 6
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Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty 
by Helen Braithwaite.
Palgrave, 243 pp., £45, December 2002, 0 333 98394 7
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... the divisions. The juiciest of these, and other manuscripts to do with the Society, were edited by Mary Thale and published twenty years ago. Now Michael Davis has collected and edited all the many publications of the LCS. They fill four large volumes, to which Davis has added a volume of ...


Paul Davis: Networking in 18th-century London, 17 March 2005

Aaron Hill: The Muses’ Projector 1685-1750 
by Christine Gerrard.
Oxford, 267 pp., £50, August 2003, 0 19 818388 7
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... into a bad way, by taking Spirit of Nitre, by Spoonfuls, instead of a few Drops’ for Gay or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; and ‘The Motto on Pug’s Collar’, ‘On Sir Isaac Newton’ (‘O’er nature’s laws, God cast the veil of night,/Out blaz’d a Newton’s soul – and all was light’) and even ‘To Mr Pope’ (‘The glow-worm scribblers of a ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Deborah Friedell: ‘The First Actresses’, 3 November 2011

... no question of it not being Nell: we know her by her nipples. She shares the room with Moll Davis, another actress turned royal mistress, whom Nell supposedly saw off by lacing her cakes with laxatives. I thought the show might be a rehash of the gallery’s Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II from ten years ago, but walk through a doorway ...

National Treasure

Christopher Hitchens, 14 November 1996

Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir 
by John Davis.
Wiley, 256 pp., £14.99, October 1996, 0 471 12945 3
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... ever know ... Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had reached across a century to take the hand of Mary Todd Lincoln, to experience the gangster politics of murder most foul.Steady on, Stanley, I remember thinking when I read that. Mrs Lincoln didn’t go on to marry a bulbous Levantine entrepreneur. Nor did she summon Theodore White for an interview ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway, 9 May 2019

Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... woman served three weeks for begging, another one week for drunkenly disrupting a church service. Mary Spillane was sentenced to death after her baby was found dead in a dust heap, before being reprieved on account of her gender. (The baby’s father was charged but never stood trial.) Prison visits by upper-middle-class lady well-wishers, following Elizabeth ...

Nohow, Worstward, Withersoever

Patrick Parrinder, 9 November 1989

Stirrings Still 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 25 pp., £1,000, March 1989, 0 7145 4142 7
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Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 128 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 7145 4111 7
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‘Make sense who may’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works 
edited by Robin Davis and Lance Butler.
Smythe, 175 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 86140 286 3
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... wrote in Texts for Nothing that ‘it’s the end gives the meaning to words.’ The title of the Davis and Butler symposium comes from the ending of Beckett’s play What Where (1983) –Time passes.That is all.Make sense who may.I switch off.– and Beckett continues to throw the switch on and off, in an ever-prolonged vigil or wake at which he is both ...

What We Are Last

Rosemary Hill: Old Age, 21 October 2010

Crazy Age: Thoughts on Being Old 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 247 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84408 649 8
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... a rough sleeper and at worst, with anything involving cotton prints or ankle socks, it’s Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Second on the list of things Miller has given up in old age is sex. It is in fact, she says, ‘the main thing’ that she doesn’t want any more, but it takes her some time to get round to spelling this out. It has come ...


Wystan Curnow, 19 March 2015

... court   Khayman like rapes them, and Mekare then asks the spirit of Amel to avenge them (Jim and Mary Barr like this   and think you will like it too). Akasha fuses with, oozes     out Maharet and makes her a vampire who in   turn makes Enkil a derivative. Together they wax, green eyes aglow as they go to ground. Hand over fist. Maharet   has a ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... excellent photographs Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting ...

Love, Lucia

Lucia Berlin: Letters to August Kleinzahler, 4 August 2005

... my life, I think. I also became a religious fanatic at Catholic school and worshipped the Virgin Mary, who took care of me … Fight with Hope devastating. Only person I had then was Uncle John who was rarely there or sober. The disillusion when he hit the kid and dog was Awful for me. The year or so left was lonely hell. Only reason i’m telling you this ...

His Whiskers Trimmed

Matthew Karp: Robert E. Lee in Defeat, 7 April 2022

Robert E. Lee: A Life 
by Allen Guelzo.
Knopf, 585 pp., $27.99, September 2021, 978 1 101 94622 0
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... Confederate states. It wasn’t until the late 1850s that he became a planter: through his wife, Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, Lee inherited several hundred enslaved people scattered across a number of Custis family estates in Virginia. He decided to improve production by transferring and hiring out slaves, regardless of family ...


Michael Hofmann: Eley Williams, 7 September 2017

Attrib. and Other Stories 
by Eley Williams.
Influx, 169 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 910312 16 2
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by Eley Williams.
Sad, 35 pp., £6, April 2017
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... the reader, it produces a kind of constructive estrangement from words. Think William Gass, Lydia Davis or Anne Carson, and you won’t be too wrong. Now I feel like someone who thinks there’s a shower on the way, and then it rains for ten days straight. Williams is just full of alphabets. The first story is even called ‘The Alphabet’, and near its end ...

Ripe for Conversion

Paul Strohm: Chaucers’s voices, 11 July 2002

Pagans, Tartars, Muslims and Jews in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ 
by Brenda Deen Schildgen.
Florida, 184 pp., £55.50, October 2001, 0 8130 2107 3
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... enables. I first encountered it in a 1986 essay on travel writing and descriptive ethnography by Mary Louise Pratt, in which she points to ‘a very familiar, widespread and stable form of “othering”’ whereby ‘the people to be othered are homogenised into a collective “they”.’ This process goes on, even without the assistance of North American ...

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