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Tremendous in His Wrath

Eric Foner: George Washington, Slave Owner

9 December 2019
‘The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: George Washington, Slavery and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon 
by Mary Thompson.
Virginia, 502 pp., £32.50, January 2019, 978 0 8139 4184 4
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... game, experimental gardens, stables, shops for carpenters, blacksmiths and other craftsmen, and a mansion, where Washington and his wife lived, attended by slaves dressed in red and white livery. MaryThompson’s book is the most detailed examination yet published of slavery at Mount Vernon. Thompson has worked for many years as a research historian at the estate and has a perhaps excessive ...

Memories of Tagore

E.P. Thompson

22 May 1986
... Macmillan were hurrying out successor volumes, including The Gardener. Scholars and critics continue to argue how far these ‘translations’ established his reputation or led to misrecognitions. Mary Lago’s Imperfect Encounter (1972) is one gate-of-entry into these problems of mismatch between the expectations of Western Orientalism and of Eastern Occidentalism, both of which Tagore confounded ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Mary​ Whitehouse’s Letters

20 December 2012
... about Margaret Thatcher. I don’t see Reagan or Nixon in a new perspective with the passage of time. And I still loathe my wicked stepmother. This last is what needs acknowledging, because as I read Mary Whitehouse’s letters, everything about her, except the trim tailoring, reminded me of my wicked stepmother.* There was the same quivering, tight-lipped prissiness, the untroubled moral ...

Boxes of Tissues

Hilary Mantel

6 March 1997
As If 
by Blake Morrison.
Granta, 245 pp., £14.99, February 1997, 1 86207 003 2
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... side; the setting intimidates them, the language is alien, they talk in stereotyped phrases as if they have picked them up from the newspapers, or from each other. And the small defendants, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, seem to belong in some other reality. Again, the book’s cadences and concerns go to work, drawing out a reinforcing memory. Our legal system can seem divorced from reality ...

Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp

1 May 1980
A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... Flora Thompson was born in 1876 in the hamlet of Juniper Hill in Oxfordshire, the daughter of a nursemaid and a stonemason. At the village school she was good at skipping and scripture. She was expected to go into ...

But she read Freud

Alice Spawls: Flora Thompson

19 February 2015
Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson​ and the Creation of ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Allen Lane, 208 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 14 104481 1
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... An outsider​ by birth as well as by disposition, Flora Thompson took solitary pleasure in observing her fellow villagers. She stored away characters and scenes from an early age – the naughty children who pulled her hair, Queenie who spoke to bees, the annual ...
9 January 1992
Customs in Common 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 547 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 85036 411 6
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... Edward Thompson’s Customs in Common is described as a ‘companion volume’ to his The Making of the English Working Class, and rises to the occasion. It has the wide range of reference, the densely-textured ...

Ode on a Dishclout

Joanna Innes: Domestic Servants

14 April 2011
Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £21.99, November 2009, 978 0 521 73623 7
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... room, ‘a general air of slovenliness and negligence, that amply represents … the depression and humiliated state of mind of its tenant.’ Steedman notes that he was then about to set up with Mary Wollstonecraft in neighbouring houses, and had reasons of his own to ponder the effect that servants – perhaps abject and depressed – might have on a household’s children. Another device ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine

16 August 1990
Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... recent royal lives have still been penned by genteel amateurs, and there is no book on the modern British monarchy comparable in scholarly stature to Denis Mack Smith on the Kings of Italy. Dorothy Thompson’s study of Queen Victoria is thus the more to be welcomed, for she is a writer in a very different tradition from such conventional courtly biographers as Elizabeth Longford, Cecil Woodham-Smith ...

Armadillo

Christopher Ricks

16 September 1982
Dissentient Voice: Enlightenment and Christian Dissent 
by Donald Davie.
University of Notre Dame Press, 154 pp., £11.85, June 1982, 0 268 00852 3
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These the Companions 
by Donald Davie.
Cambridge, 220 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 521 24511 7
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... from its kidnappers. Dissent was not and is not ‘a stage on the way to enlightened unbelief’, or endemically of the Left; it has often been loyalist and royalist, and the take-over by E. P. Thompson is exposed as the irreligious left-winger’s imperialism. Davie is not only stringent, he is cogent – as only an extended instance of his interrogation can show: Kolakowski, declaring himself ...

Counting weapons

Rudolf Peierls

5 March 1981
Britain and Nuclear Weapons 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Papermac, 160 pp., £3.25, September 1980, 0 333 30511 6
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Countdown: Britain’s Strategic Forces 
by Stewart Menual.
Hale, 188 pp., £8.25, October 1980, 0 7091 8592 8
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The War Machine 
by James Avery Joyce.
Quartet, 210 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7043 2254 4
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Protest and Survive 
edited by E.P. Thompson and Dan Smith.
Penguin, 262 pp., £1.50, October 1980, 0 14 052341 3
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... war”.’ Many of us are ready to work hard, but how is it done? Protest and Survive (a title inspired by the Civil Defence Pamphlet Protect and Survive) is a collection of essays, edited by E. P. Thompson and Dan Smith, with emphasis on the effect of nuclear weapons on Europe, and particularly on Britain, and on current statements dealing with Civil Defence. An impressive article by Alva Myrdal ...

Diary

Perry Anderson: On E.P. Thompson

21 October 1993
... Coming home one evening in the last weeks of 1962, I found a bottle of wine in the vacated room, with a note underneath. Edward Thompson had been completing The Making of the English Working-Class. He lived in Halifax, and needed a final couple of weeks in the British Museum. In those days I lived in Talbot Road, newly wed to Juliet ...
1 July 1982
The Fate of the Earth 
by Jonathan Schell.
Cape/Picador, 256 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 224 02064 1
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The Two-Edged Sword: Armed Force in the Modern World 
by Laurence Martin.
Weidenfeld, 108 pp., £5.95, March 1982, 0 297 78139 1
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Zero Option 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 198 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 85036 288 1
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Disarming Europe 
edited by Mary​ Kaldor and Dan Smith.
Merlin, 196 pp., £10, May 1982, 0 85036 277 6
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... any reviewer will want to be as brief and inconspicuous as possible: otherwise he risks having his own efforts compared with the brilliantly satirical and justly celebrated review which E.P. Thompson published in New Society some months back. Although it is rather unpleasantly savage in its attacks on Martin himself, the piece is nevertheless immensely entertaining, and its reappearance in a new ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary​ Hill

5 February 2015
A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... as well as some more thoughtful studies of the case and what it reveals about postwar Britain and its social structure. Lord Lucan and Veronica Duncan on their wedding day, 28 November 1963. Thompson’s book is a mixture of all of these and the result is persuasive and revealing in some parts, absurd and tasteless in others. Yet it is a compelling read. The story doesn’t pall because it has ...

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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... prisoners were serving short sentences, which are associated with higher rates of recidivism. One 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 ...

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