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The ‘R’ Word

Adam Smyth: For the Love of the Binding, 4 November 2021

Book Ownership in Stuart England 
by David Pearson.
Oxford, 352 pp., £69.99, January, 978 0 19 887012 8
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... and Juliet, as well as Marlowe’s Hero and Leander and The Jew of Malta, Donne’s Poems and Mary Wroth’s Urania among many other works.She was also an enthusiastic tagger, recording not only her name but sometimes the hands through which a book had passed. ‘Frances Wolfreston her bouk geuen by her motherilaw ...


Hilary Mantel, 7 December 1989

Life Lines: Politics and Health 1986-1988 
by Edwina Currie.
Sidgwick, 291 pp., £13.95, November 1989, 0 283 99920 9
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My Turn 
by Nancy Reagan and William Novak.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 297 79677 1
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Heiress: The Story of Christina Onassis 
by Nigel Dempster.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 297 79671 2
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... her wish to be as famous as any film-star, and who thinks you use a raw egg when you mix a Bloody Mary. Mrs Currie’s brief career made its impact because she confounded our expectations. We expect our politicians anodyne, and Currie is brash and rude; we grumble when they evade issues but are shocked when they speak plainly. We are stupidly taken aback when ...

Using the Heavens

John Bossy: Renaissance Astrology, 1 June 2000

Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer 
by Anthony Grafton.
Harvard, 284 pp., £21.95, February 2000, 0 674 09555 3
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... to find out what line he should take between the poles of English politics, Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots? My natural bent is to think that he is chatting the man up: I do not find him saying such things in his official correspondence with Paris; nor do I find that on such grounds kings and councillors made their decisions about the destinies of ...

Why Goldwyn Wore Jodhpurs

David Thomson, 22 June 2000

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... repeating his classic 1936 role, Henry Fonda doing Leslie Howard, and Lauren Bacall as Bette Davis. The show went well. Bogart, always a bit of a snob, and once chucked out of Andover, was impressed that Dunne had been to Williams College. He invited the nobody kid to a party at his home in the Holmby Hills. Dunne knew he was out of his element ...

Cool Brains

Nicholas Guyatt: Demythologising the antebellum South, 2 June 2005

Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South 
by Michael O’Brien.
North Carolina, 1354 pp., £64.95, March 2004, 0 8078 2800 9
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... predicaments with a cold eye and ‘cool brains’ (in the prescription of the Civil War diarist Mary Chesnut). And the defeat of 1865 merely confirmed their prescience about the instability of people, places and things. The American South, in O’Brien’s telling, learned a lesson in defeat that would not reach Europe for fifty years. O’Brien has a ...


Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... guise of equality’. Matters were not calmed by the decision of Adams’s successor, Mary Lou McDonald, to conclude her first speech as president to the party’s Ard Fheis with: ‘Up the republic! Up the rebels! Tiocfaidh ár lá!’ This, translated as ‘Our day will come,’ was the rallying cry of the IRA. Poetry helped, once or twice. When ...
... They included a gold star on the steps of the state capitol, to mark the spot where Jefferson Davis – the president of the Confederate States between 1861 and 1865 – was inaugurated and the slave nation was formed. There were no reminders of the city’s role as one of the most important centres of the Southern slave trade. In late 2013 the EJI ...


Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 17 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... correspondents Crane met in Cuba such as Charles Michelson, Ernest McCready and Richard Harding Davis. These are rich materials but at the same time they are incomplete and sparse. Crane was not a prolific letter-writer and he left no diaries or memoir. Further confusing matters was Crane’s first biographer, Thomas Beer, whose Stephen Crane: A Study in ...

It’s me you gotta make happy

Andrea Brady: John Wieners, 29 July 2021

Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners 
edited by Michael Seth Stewart.
New Mexico, 333 pp., £60, December 2020, 978 0 8263 6204 9
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... John Wieners​ once told his nephew he had met the Virgin Mary. ‘Did she say anything to you?’ Walter asked. ‘No,’ John said, ‘she doesn’t know how to speak.’ He paused. ‘But she’s learning.’ Wieners was born to a working-class family outside Boston in 1934, educated by Jesuits, and spent formative periods of his youth in New York, San Francisco and Black Mountain, North Carolina ...

A Bonanza for Lawyers

Diarmaid MacCulloch: The Huguenot Dispersal, 21 September 2017

Facing the Revocation: Huguenot Families, Faith, and the King’s Will 
by Carolyn Chappell Lougee.
Oxford, 488 pp., £37.99, December 2016, 978 0 19 024131 5
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... of Martyrs had long fostered consciousness of the English Protestants burned at the stake by Queen Mary, to which were added more recent memories of Protestants being massacred in Ireland in 1641 (the English tended not to remember their own massacres of Irish Catholics). The majority Catholic population in Ireland seemed like a fifth column in England’s ...

Aviators and Movie Stars

Patricia Lockwood: Carson McCullers, 19 October 2017

Stories, Plays and Other Writings 
by Carson McCullers.
Library of America, 672 pp., £33.99, January 2017, 978 1 59853 511 2
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... door, a bust of Brahms, the water oiling itself between brown riverbanks. Under the tutelage of Mary Tucker, perhaps the first woman she ever loved romantically, she practised the piano for hours a day, repeating the same tricky passages until she was a general menace to the neighbourhood. After a bout of rheumatic fever in her mid-teens, she resolved to ...

Falklands Title Deeds

Malcolm Deas, 19 August 1982

The Struggle for the Falkland Islands 
by Julius Goebel, introduced by J.C.J. Metford.
Yale, 482 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 300 02943 8
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The Falklands Islands Dispute: International Dimensions 
edited by Joan Pearce.
Chatham House, 47 pp., £2.75, April 1982, 0 905031 25 3
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The Falkland Islands: The Facts 
HMSO, 12 pp., £50, May 1982, 0 11 701029 4Show More
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... Falklands, where lightning can ignite the tussock-grass in spring. You can make a case for John Davis or Sir Richard Hawkins, just as if you are not English you can make a case for some earlier Iberian voyage. The articles ‘Falkland’s Islands’ in the last two editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica give the honour to the English as if there was no ...


Mark Greif: Walt Disney, 7 June 2007

Walt Disney: The Biography 
by Neal Gabler.
Aurum, 766 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 1 84513 277 4
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The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney 
by Michael Barrier.
California, 393 pp., £18.95, April 2007, 978 0 520 24117 6
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Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson 
by Tom Sito.
Kentucky, 440 pp., £19.95, September 2006, 0 8131 2407 7
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... believe that one man could cause so much to happen – from Snow White to a coonskin-cap craze to Mary Poppins to Hollywood’s move into broadcast television and finally to theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando – then you adopt the model of the lone genius, almost to the point of holy respect. After all, Disney did help name every dwarf. He figured out how to ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... an extended leadership contest. Duncan Smith had himself been a minor ‘bastard’, as had David Davis, the early favourite to succeed Howard. The Conservatives knew that they were seen, in the words of Theresa May, Duncan Smith’s party chairwoman, as the ‘nasty party’, but were too worried about upsetting the ‘core vote’ to do much about it. Hague ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces us of its reality. This is not to say that the stories Wolff selected were not interesting stories. Rather, it became abundantly clear that he had very narrow ...

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