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Teeth of Mouldy Blue

Laura Quinney: Percy Bysshe Shelley, 21 September 2000

The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley: Volume I 
edited by Donald Reiman and Neil Fraisat.
Johns Hopkins, 494 pp., £58, March 2000, 0 8018 6119 5
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... family, and fell into a depression; in his loneliness, he persuaded Harriet Westbrook, a pleasant young woman, to elope with him, and then established an unsatisfactory triangulated household with her older sister, Eliza; they wandered about, visiting, among other places, Ireland, where Shelley tried to foment revolution; he fled Harriet and Eliza, partly on ...

A Little ‘Foreign’

P.N. Furbank: Iris Origo, 27 June 2002

Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d’Orcia 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Murray, 351 pp., £22, October 2000, 0 7195 5672 4
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... do it in three separate countries (Italy, England and the US). Her parents had met when, as a very young man, Bayard had come to London as private secretary to the US Ambassador. They got married in 1901, and Bayard toyed with various schemes for a career: diplomacy, university work, politics and so on. Before very long, however, he was diagnosed as ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?, 18 April 2019

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February 2019, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... Eric Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917, the product of a chance meeting in 1913 between Percy Hobsbawm, the son of Jewish immigrants to Britain from Poland, who had followed his brother Ernest into a job with the British-run Egyptian postal service, and Nelly Grün, a cultured and attractive young woman from a ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... good. Wolff reflects on the spiritual link (as the late 18th century probably saw it) between a young genius and a revered master, and sets the tone of Lang’s Festschrift with some cogent remarks on the diplomat and music patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the guardian angel of Mozart’s late style. Richard Taruskin accuses Stravinsky of lying about the ...

The Fatness of Falstaff

Barbara Everett, 16 August 1990

... who, charged by the Lord Chief Justice with having led astray the Prince of Wales, answers: ‘The young Prince hath misled me. I am the Fellow with the great belly, and he my Dogge.’ No one now quite follows this joke, which may be an airy reference (to distract attention) to the Man in the Moon. What is more interesting than Falstaff’s ancient joke is ...


Christopher Reid, 3 September 1981

Some Americans: A Personal Record 
by Charles Tomlinson.
California, 134 pp., £6.50, June 1981, 0 520 04037 6
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... States. Both, however, were old and ailing. Recovering from a series of strokes, Williams gave his young British acolyte as boisterous a welcome as he could, evidently glad to meet a poet from our benighted land who was ready to take account of his radical ideas about versification. Marianne Moore received her guest courteously and solicitously. The ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... memories, and cast them in epic form (Arthur Scargill’s first job, when he joined the Barnsley Young Communist League, was to be made ‘Ballads and Blues’ secretary). Aneurin Bevan, a glittering representative of the South Wales coalfield, and the most accomplished orator of his day, made the mining industry a vivid presence in the world of high ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... 1899, stare at the camera as grimly as Papuan warriors. There was a need to face the facts of war. Percy Hennell made records of reconstructive surgery; in the exhibition you can see a soldier who has had the socket of his lost eye patched over with a flap of skin. The police wanted mugshots for their records. A collage of ten ‘known militant ...

Horrors and Cream

Hugh Tulloch, 21 August 1980

On the Edge of Paradise 
by David Newsome.
Murray, 405 pp., £17.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3690 1
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... boxes and not opened for 50 years. A heavily inhibited edition was brought out by Percy Lubbock in 1927, but Newsome is the first to have carte blanche to sift through this vast storehouse. While intimate diaries don’t necessarily yield intimate revelations of the true self, On the Edge of Paradise does disclose a novel side to Benson, till ...

Excepting the Aristocratical

Ian Gilmour, 23 March 1995

Marriage, Debt and the Estates System: English Landownership 1650-1950 
by John Habakkuk.
Oxford, 786 pp., £65, September 1994, 0 19 820398 5
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... dared to tap him on the shoulder, he was shocked. ‘My first wife,’ he remonstrated, ‘was a Percy and she would not have dared to presume so far.’ Habakkuk thinks he was ‘pathological’, but the preoccupation with station was general. In Constantinople in 1810, the young Lord Byron was invited to join the ...

Rivonia Days

R.W. Johnson: Remembering the trial, 16 August 2007

The State v. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa 
by Joel Joffe.
Oneworld, 288 pp., £16.99, July 2007, 978 1 85168 500 4
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... Africa when the Rivonia trial began in November 1963 was so poisonous that Joel Joffe, then a young lawyer, took the case on only because he had already decided to emigrate. Two years later, he wrote up his lively insider’s view of the trial and allowed Lionel Bernstein, the only defendant to get off, to rewrite it to the point of virtual ...

Coe and Ovett & Co

Russell Davies, 1 October 1981

Running Free 
by Sebastian Coe and David Miller.
Sidgwick, 174 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 283 98684 0
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... that is traditionally the soul-food of champions, but there has been dark talk of links with the Young Conservatives. Coe’s sister Miranda is an elegant model – the family is strong on legs – though she doubles (possibly a concession here to the Ovett style of things) as a ‘cabaret dancer’. Above all, Coe has been coached by his father, Peter, who ...

Under Rose’s Rule

Tim Hilton, 3 April 1980

John Ruskin and Rose La Touche: Her Unpublished Diaries of 1861 and 1867 
edited by Van Akin Burd.
Oxford, 192 pp., £6.95, January 1980, 0 19 812633 6
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... It was in the winter of 1929 that the young American scholar Helen Gill Viljoen went to Brantwood, Ruskin’s old home on Coniston Water, to pursue her postgraduate researches. In that dilapidated building, stripped of its more saleable treasures but housing still a wealth of manuscript material, she worked for some weeks: unsupervised, but advised by W ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... is meant as a joke. 15 January. Go into the chemist in Camden High Street to find a down-at-heel young man not quite holding the place to ransom but effectively terrorising the shop. He keeps pulling items off the shelves, and waving them in the face of the blonde assistant saying: ‘This is mine. And this is mine. The whole shop’s mine. It’s bought ...


Anne Barton: Mary Shelley, 8 February 2001

Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... in the accurately entitled Literary Lives series (published by Palgrave) as Michael O’Neill’s Percy Bysshe Shelley (1989) or Caroline Franklin’s Byron (2000), not-very-literary biographies, some running to four hundred and more pages, continue to accumulate in the bookshops. There (presumably) they attract readers far more interested in the Romantics as ...

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