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Fits and Excursions

Walter Nash, 7 August 1986

The Complete Plain Words 
by Ernest Gowers, edited by Sidney Greenbaum and Janet Whitcut.
HMSO, 288 pp., £5.50, May 1986, 0 11 701121 5
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Educational Linguistics 
by Michael Stubbs.
Blackwell, 286 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 631 13898 6
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... are thinking and saying about these matters could not do better than read the essays collected in Michael Stubbs’s Educational Linguistics. Professor Stubbs is an educationist who writes, in a lucid, amiably unjargoned style that Gowers would certainly have commended, about questions that Gowers might not have ...

The Thrill of It All

Michael Newton: Zombies, 18 February 2016

Zombies: A Cultural History 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Reaktion, 224 pp., £16, August 2015, 978 1 78023 528 8
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... fact, zombies have been the heroes of various first-person narratives for decades. The video game Stubbs the Zombie (2005) allows its players to put themselves in the place of a vengeful zombie, Stubbs. The identification solicited in that game as well as these movies takes us back to those ‘zombie parades’. Clearly ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... came the film version of Bright Lights, Big City, an appalling adaptation with wholesome munchkin Michael J. Fox in the lead. Like the film of Less than Zero, it was neutered by Hollywood’s supine acquiescence in Nancy Reagan’s demand that movies and television should not ‘glorify’ drug-taking. The jagged blackness of the original text was ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... it was too public a club. In 1917 he married Florence Conway, a schoolteacher; their only child, Michael, was born in 1922. Williams turned out to be a fugitive husband and absentee father. As a refuge from the pram in the hall, he became involved with A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, an offshoot of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... of One for My Baby is called Alfie (Parsons seems to be paying homage to characters played by Michael Caine). Alfie’s wife is called Rose. Rose dies on him. She was working in Hong Kong. In Man and Boy Harry’s misfortune led him to reassess his relationship with his young son and his parents and to fall in love with a woman who had a young daughter of ...

North and South

Linda Colley, 2 August 2012

... the past; and it was propagated by such major figures as De Lolme, Blackstone, Hallam, Macaulay, Stubbs, Maitland and Dicey, and by multitudes of lesser authors such as David Lindsay Keir, the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister. Keir’s workmanlike Constitutional History of Modern Britain since 1485 went through nine editions between 1938 and 1969, and ...

Living in the Enemy’s Dream

Michael Wood, 27 November 1997

The Cattle Killing 
by John Edgar Wideman.
Picador, 212 pp., £16.99, August 1997, 0 330 32789 5
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Brothers and Keepers 
by John Edgar Wideman.
Picador, 243 pp., £6.99, August 1997, 0 330 35031 5
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... philanthropist’s blind wife, the servant, an African employed as factotum by the painter George Stubbs. Some of these impersonations are more appealing than others, and there is a dispiriting amount of antiquing going on, as in ‘My garments, good lady,’ and ‘I was a poor servant girl, possessed nothing but the curse of youthful beauty,’ and ‘The ...

Complete Internal Collapse

Malcolm Vale: Agincourt, 19 May 2016

The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... Sumption stands in a long tradition of historiography that claims the high moral ground: Gibbon, Stubbs and Acton (the ‘magistrate of history’ and advocate of history as a ‘hanging judge’) would no doubt have approved. Sumption treats the period as one of French civil war as much as war between England and France. It witnessed the assassinations of ...

Blood on the Block

Maurice Keen: Henry IV, 5 June 2008

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King 
by Ian Mortimer.
Vintage, 480 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 1 84413 529 5
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... he should keep his crown and life? Do we conclude, with the eminent Victorian historian William Stubbs, that the pressures of 1399 wrought in Henry a ‘deep change of character’; or was he merely revealing his true self? And how did the experience colour his outlook and actions as king? Henry’s story cannot be told without addressing these ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... seven months at the Press Lehmann made his first appearance as an editor when he commissioned Michael Roberts’s New Signatures (February 1932), which included contributions from Julian Bell, Richard Eberhart, William Empson, Cecil Day Lewis, Stephen Spender, William Plomer and Lehmann himself. Through Spender he met Christopher Isherwood. The friendship ...

I’m being a singer

Andrew O’Hagan: Dandy Highwaymen, 8 October 2020

Sweet Dreams: The Story of the New Romantics 
by Dylan Jones.
Faber, 663 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 0 571 35343 9
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... partly a countercultural celebration of free play in a post-industrial world,’ the critic David Stubbs is quoted as saying, ‘in which you defined yourself not by the job you had but what you decided, stylistically, to become.’It truly was the revenge of the poofs. Out went the previous accoutrements of male working-class style (metal comb, pocket ...


Stefan Collini: Herbert Butterfield, 21 July 2005

Herbert Butterfield: Historian as Dissenter 
by C.T. McIntire.
Yale, 499 pp., £30, August 2005, 0 300 09807 3
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... became the dominant narrative of English history, versions of which could be found in Macaulay, Stubbs, Freeman, and on into the 20th century in the writings of such latter-day Whig historians as Trevelyan and, less obviously, Churchill. Butterfield’s attack, however, is directed at the informing assumptions of popular and outline histories. ‘It is ...

The Killing of Blair Peach

David Renton, 22 May 2014

... blow was struck. Death by misadventure was not the verdict Peach’s family or his partner, Celia Stubbs, had hoped for: a verdict of unlawful killing would have opened the way to criminal prosecution of the officers concerned. But inquest juries must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that a killing was unlawful in order to reach this verdict. Given the ...

Reasons for Liking Tolkien

Jenny Turner: The Hobbit Habit, 15 November 2001

... Wilson wrote in 1956. ‘A combination of Wagner and Winnie-the-Pooh,’ the poet John Heath-Stubbs joshed at around the same time. ‘My nightmare,’ added Germaine Greer.The quite funny one-liners abound, but it’s much harder to find someone writing sensibly at length about what exactly is wrong with Tolkien’s novel. Obviously there is a problem ...

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