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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 ...

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 ...

A heart with testicles

D.J. Enright, 9 May 1991

Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Vol. I: The Poetry of Desire, 1749-1790 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 827 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 19 815866 1
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... Not to know Goethe,’ A.W. Schlegel wrote poetically, ‘is to be a Goth.’ Nicholas Boyle begins the preface to Volume One of his biography of the great man by stating, altogether correctly alas, that more must be known, ‘or at any rate there must be more to know’, about him than about almost any other human being ...

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 ...

Bonfire in Merrie England

Richard Wilson: Shakespeare’s Burning, 4 May 2017

... On Saturday​ , 6 March 1926, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon was closed. But around 11 a.m. a girl called Eileen White noticed ‘an awful lot of smoke’ pouring from the back of the building. When she told her aunt she was reassured that it was only ‘Mr Gisbourne’s bonfire’. An hour later, the theatre manageress, Alice Rainbow, was finally warned that the building was on fire ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... Joseph Addison, who airbrushed out Milton’s regicidal politics, or David Garrick, who turned Shakespeare from upstart crow into national bard; there were theoreticians of ‘original composition’ like Edward Young, who set a premium on the rejection of classical models; there were book-trade entrepreneurs whose huge poetry anthologies cashed in on the ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Arts Councillors

Brigid Brophy, 7 October 1982

The State and the Visual Arts 
by Nicholas Pearson.
Open University, 128 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 335 10109 7
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The Politics of the Arts Council 
by Robert Hutchison.
Sinclair Browne, 186 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 86300 016 9
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... an invitation to partake in the bourgeois bonanza by passing a publicly subsidised evening at a Shakespeare play or a Bartok opera would elicit bafflement, fear or derision. To be fair, the carapace of middle-class philistinism has softened a bit over the past twenty years, from hostility to the arts to indifference. Some of the improvement must, I ...

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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