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Holy Terrors

Penelope Fitzgerald

4 December 1986
‘Elizabeth’: The Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ 
by Karen Usborne.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 370 30887 5
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Alison Uttley: The Life of a Country Child 
by Denis Judd.
Joseph, 264 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2449 9
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Richmal Crompton: The Woman behind William 
by Mary Cadogan.
Allen and Unwin, 169 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 04 928054 6
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... amusement’ by her acting, at Bromley High she was an inspiring teacher. She became ‘Auntie’ to an unspecified number of younger people. In January 1969 she died with as little fuss as possible. MaryCadogan, writing with workmanlike cheerfulness, calls her ‘so likeable, indeed, that she is something of a biographer’s nightmare’. Not daunted, however, by the likeableness, she pushes through ...


E.S. Turner

1 December 1983
Just William, More William, William Again, William the Fourth 
by Richmal Crompton and Thomas Henry.
Macmillan, 215 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 333 35848 1
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... excruciating literary poseurs arrive to stay in William’s village, among them a writer on child-rearing deluded enough to think that children trail clouds of glory. In You’re a brick, Angela MaryCadogan and Patricia Craig, working through the William canon, are shocked to find that in the Thirties William and his gang play at being Nazis, robbing a Jewish-owned sweet shop but later redeeming ...
1 June 1989
English Children and their Magazines 1751-1945 
by Kirsten Drotner.
Yale, 272 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 300 04010 5
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Frank Richards: The Chap behind the Chums 
by Mary Cadogan.
Viking, 258 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 670 81946 8
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A History of Children’s Book Illustration 
by Joyce Irene Whalley and Tessa Rose Chester.
Murray/Victoria and Albert Museum, 268 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 7195 4584 6
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Manchester Polytechnic Library of Children’s Books 1840-1939: ‘From Morality to Adventure’ 
by W.H. Shercliff.
Bracken Books/Studio Editions, 203 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 901276 18 9
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Children’s Modern First Editions: Their Value to Collectors 
by Joseph Connolly.
Macdonald, 336 pp., £17.95, October 1988, 0 356 15741 5
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... equivalent female papers, the School Friend and the rest of them. Coker of the Greyfriars Fifth, for instance, is heavy-handed but good-hearted, and not a bully as Drotner says. Indeed, we learn from MaryCadogan’s celebration of Charles Hamilton and his works that Coker was derived in part from Hamilton’s elder brother Richard, whose Christian name provided the famous pseudonym, and who, quite ...

Walking on Eyeballs

E.S. Turner: The history of gout

7 January 1999
Gout: The Patrician Malady 
by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau.
Yale, 393 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 300 07386 0
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... capital to their mistresses. Was there, then, no sane voice ever raised in bedlam? Intermittently, yes; and one which emerged in the gout wars in 1771 was that of the fertile pamphleteer, Dr William Cadogan, who insisted that the prime causes of gout were idleness, intemperance and vexation. This not very original theory roused a predictable fury. In the turbulent last decade of the 18th century, the ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... This pronouncement is made as the young Fry is on his way to Reading with a stolen credit card, just before his arrest in a Post House Hotel by two Wiltshire police officers. It’s not exactly the Cadogan, but the cheap resonance is there. Moab Is My Washpot is a very eccentric confessional, alive with the contradictions that make Fry such a beguiling popular-cultural landmark. He unloads his ...

May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters

8 September 2011
The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... never before, to attempt to understand the enigmatic William Godwin, the author of one of the great novels of the 18th century and of the founding text in the philosophy of anarchism, the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, the father of Mary Shelley, and the friend or acquaintance of almost everyone on the liberal left over 50 of the most intellectually exciting years in British history. In November ...
7 November 1985
The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... diaries as though its continued existence could be taken for granted. Of aristocratic descent on both sides of the family, he inherited the Court connections of his mother, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary. At the age of 12 he was a Page of Honour to George V and in the late 1940s Private Secretary to Princess Elizabeth. From Harrow, and Trinity College, Cambridge, he entered the diplomatic service the ...
17 November 1983
The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 241 10964 7
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The Importance of Being Constance: A Biography of Oscar Wilde’s Wife 
by Joyce Bentley.
Hale, 160 pp., £8.75, May 1983, 0 7090 0538 5
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Mrs Oscar Wilde: A Woman of Some Importance 
by Anne Clark Amor.
Sidgwick, 249 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 9780283989674
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... Did he make an active decision not to flee the country after the failure of his case against Queensberry? Or did he simply dither until the detectives knocked on the door of Douglas’s suite in the Cadogan Hotel? The legal authorities hoped that he would flee and his friends repeatedly urged him to catch the Dover train. He kept saying ‘It is too late’ and ‘The train has gone,’ and he remained ...
18 December 1980
John Betjeman’s Collected Poems 
compiled by the Earl of Birkenhead.
Murray, 427 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3632 4
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Church Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 7195 3797 5
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... Nouveau of Holy Trinity, Sloane Street: The tall red house soars upward to the stars. The doors are chased with sardonyx and gold, And in the long white room Thin drapery draws backward to unfold Cadogan Square between the window-bars And Whistler’s mother knitting in the gloom. Church poems, like poems of plain topography, are never inspired Betjeman but the zestful craftsmanship here is none the ...

No One Leaves Her Place in Line

Jeremy Harding: Martha Gellhorn

7 May 1998
... books that she’d left me. I’d made the journey often from North London to Sloane Square, walking away from the Royal Court Theatre, rounding Peter Jones on Symons Street and turning up towards Cadogan Square. On entering the house, you rose in a coffin-like lift to the top and walked down to the first half-landing, where the door of her place would be open. Inside, if it was summer, you could ...

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