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A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... whereupon its five-acre precinct became a prime piece of Tudor real estate. Chris Laoutaris’s Shakespeare and the Countess gives a remarkably detailed account of its residents in the 1590s, some of them very distinguished, and of their efforts to exclude one who would become more distinguished than any of them. Blackfriars is an area rich in Shakespearean ...

Dwarf-Basher

Michael Dobson, 8 June 1995

Edmond Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography 
by Peter Martin.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 46030 1
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... Anyone who has ever taken the slightest interest in Shakespeare and his times owes a great deal to Edmond Malone. It was Malone who in a single month, June 1789, discovered not only the papers of the theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe, on which most of our knowledge of the working practices of the Elizabethan theatre is based, but the records of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels from 1622 to 1642, a complementary treasure-trove on Jacobean and Caroline court entertainments and dramatic censorship; Malone who first trawled systematically through the parish and corporation records of Stratford for the surviving documentary traces of Shakespeare’s family, and in the process found the only extant item of his personal correspondence, a letter to him from his neighbour Richard Quiney; Malone who found what remains the only known copy of the 1594 first quarto of Venus and Adonis (and later bequeathed it, along with most of his remarkable library, to the Bodleian); Malone whose path-breaking edition of 1790, with its insistence on the paramount authority of the early quartos and the First Folio, was the first to include reliable biographical information about Shakespeare, a chronology of the plays and a properly-edited text of the Sonnets ...

Picture in Little

Charles Nicholl: Hilliard’s Trajectory, 19 December 2019

Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist 
by Elizabeth Goldring.
Yale, 337 pp., £40, February 2019, 978 0 300 24142 6
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... they came to have their portraits painted ‘in little’ by the Elizabethan miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard, who lived and worked on Gutter Lane for 35 years. If you were very posh or very rich Hilliard came to you, but his bread and butter was what he called ‘common’ work – in other words, doing portraits of commoners – and this more middling ...

Enisled

John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold, 19 March 1998

A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... by Kenneth and Miriam Allott, were revised and reissued in 1979. A new edition is on the way from Nicholas Shrimpton. Cecil Lang is up to the second instalment of the Letters (despite fierce crossfire from rival scholars in the letters pages of the TLS). Following the line opened by Lionel Trilling’s ‘biography of a mind’ in America and by Raymond ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... the document by which, in 1756, the firm of J.&R. Tonson undertook to publish The plays of William Shakespeare, in eight volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of Various Commentators; To which are added notes by Sam. Johnson. This edition, with its much reprinted preface and doggedly commonsensical approach to the text, still exerts a palpable ...

Unsluggardised

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... It was bought for 36 shillings by Robert Bell Wheler, a local historian, and later donated to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, where it still resides. When the Romantic painter Benjamin Robert Haydon heard news of the discovery he wrote excitedly to his friend Keats: ‘If this is not Shakespeare who is it? … As sure as ...

I hear, I see, I learn

Nicholas Spice, 4 November 1993

The Green Knight 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 472 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 6030 6
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... children enjoy Beowulf and Greek myths. At eight they devour Dickens. By 12 they have read most of Shakespeare. Television is anathema to them; audio, video and disco just Latin verbs. ‘I hear, I see, I learn.’ It would make the ideal motto for the Anderson family. Painted by Moy (in Latin, of course) on a colourful escutcheon depicting three enigmatic ...

Fathers Who Live Too Long

John Kerrigan: Shakespeare’s Property, 12 September 2013

Being and Having in Shakespeare 
by Katharine Eisaman Maus.
Oxford, 141 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 969800 4
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... gift-giving of the opening act and the nihilistic isolation of his ending. The topicality of Nicholas Hytner’s production was heightened by the interpolation of passages from Coriolanus, which brought angry citizens into the play. Alcibiades was portrayed less as a disaffected soldier, exiled from Athens and returning to conquer it, than as a rallying ...

Pens and Heads

Maggie Kilgour: The Young Milton, 21 October 2021

Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton 
by Nicholas McDowell.
Princeton, 494 pp., £30, October 2020, 978 0 691 15469 5
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... the archbishop of Canterbury. This leaves us with the question: when did Milton become Milton? Nicholas McDowell’s new study, Poet of Revolution, tries to account for Milton’s transformation from ‘obscure student poet in the early 1630s, albeit one with grand Virgilian pretensions, to a leading oppositional prose polemicist as civil war broke out a ...

The Body in the Library Is Never Our Own

Ian Patterson: On Ngaio Marsh, 5 November 2020

... that there is such a thing as real, uncomplicated evil. And while all these writers quote from Shakespeare, it is only in the work of Ngaio Marsh that the central element and most pervasive trope is theatricality.Marsh wrote 32 detective novels. She was born in New Zealand and lived there most of her life, though she spent four years in England between ...

Veni, vidi, video

D.A.N. Jones, 18 August 1983

Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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Monimbo 
by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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Heartburn 
by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... professional police espionage, counter-terrorism, peeping toms and voyeurs. Everyone is bugged. Nicholas Salaman has plotted his book so deftly, with almost plausible pranks and conspiracies, surprises and reversals, sexual depravities and savage cruelties, that it sometimes resembles a first-rate spy thriller. But, despite the melancholy ...

Fs and Bs

Nicholas Hiley, 9 March 1995

Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen 
by Adrian Weale.
Weidenfeld, 230 pp., £18.99, May 1994, 0 297 81488 5
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In from the Cold: National Security and Parliamentary Democracy 
by Laurence Lustgarten and Ian Leigh.
Oxford, 554 pp., £22.50, July 1994, 9780198252344
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... the English countryside, the English sense of humour, the English love of fair play.’ William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Edward Elgar were brought forth to prove that the roots of British character lay deep in the countryside, and were still healthy despite the enervating effects of urban life. Yet to anyone who took the trouble to look dispassionately ...

I, Lowborn Cur

Colin Burrow: Literary Names, 22 November 2012

Literary Names: Personal Names in English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 283 pp., £19.99, September 2012, 978 0 19 959222 7
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... name may try to bring the Irish Oonagh into the unity of the English Church). Spenser belonged, as Shakespeare did, to the period in which William Camden was at work providing etymologies for many names, and that is part of the reason he was so alive to the resources and buried senses of nomenclature. Writers in the 19th and 20th centuries could scour ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year, 14 December 1995

... proxy regime in Bosnia. Everyone says how moderate he is. Why, he’s even written a book on Shakespeare. My answer here – a necessarily provisional one – is that Prince Charles is authoring a book on Shakespeare too, and we have yet to see how ‘moderate’ he is.) Anyway, if either Mladic or Karadzic is hauled ...

Mysteries of Kings Cross

Iain Sinclair, 5 October 1995

Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... going on for ever – backwards or forwards from The Waste Land, from Chaucer to Spenser and Shakespeare and Donne, through Milton and Blake and Keats, to David Jones, Gascoyne, Dylan Thomas, Nicholas Moore, to Lee Harwood’s Cable Street, Bill Griffiths’s Whitechapel and Brian Catling’s The Stumbling ...

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