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Carnivals of Progress

John Ziman, 17 February 1983

Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... In the London Review of Books, John Maynard Smith said about scientists: ‘however interested they may be in politics or history or philosophy, their first love is science itself.’ If only I could follow this bent, and tell something of Hamilton as a mathematician. As it happens, he also wrote a good deal of poetry, but his poems lack the magic of his equations, which seem more beautiful and moving now than when they were imagined 150 years ago ...

Making them think

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1986

G.K. Chesterton 
by Michael Ffinch.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £16, June 1986, 0 297 78858 2
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... concern of his life.’ On the following page Mr Ffinch tells of being admitted by Miss Dorothy Collins, Chesterton’s literary executor, to archival material so rich that he ‘remained happily stranded in the attic for twelve hours a day for several weeks’. ‘As each chest, trunk, suitcase or box revealed its treasures in the form of ...

My Missus

John Sutherland, 13 May 1993

Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... working-class literature than about Lapland. In a much quoted essay twenty years later, Wilkie Collins, after a similar expedition, coined the phrase ‘the Unknown Public’. It was something of a misnomer since the public was well enough known. It was their ‘entertaining literature’ that was the mystery. English society put such a moral premium on ...

The butler didn’t do it

Bee Wilson: The First Detectives, 19 June 2008

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the Murder at Road Hill House 
by Kate Summerscale.
Bloomsbury, 334 pp., £14.99, April 2008, 978 0 7475 8215 1
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... if only the guilty – bloodied – nightdress could be found, the case would be solved. Wilkie Collins borrowed this clue for The Moonstone, though he turned it from a bloody garment to one splattered with fresh paint. Because of the breast flannel and the nightdress, every woman at Road Hill House had to account for her undergarments. The servants were ...

At the Hydropathic

T.J. Binyon, 6 December 1984

Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... club to Styles, and then back to the club. Agatha’s only friend was her wire-haired terrier, Peter. In December she cracked. Packing a suitcase with an odd assortment of effects, and putting on a money belt containing several hundred pounds, she drove south. At Newlands Corner she seems to have had a slight accident. Leaving her car, she walked to ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: What’s in a name?, 19 October 2000

... Peter Lilley, an international fraud investigator and no relation of the Tory MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has written a book called Dirty Dealing: The Untold Truth about Global Money Laundering (Kogan Page, £16.99). Before outlining how best to prevent the crime, he explains the various ways to go about committing it, such as opening an anonymous Austrian Sparbuch – savings book – of which there are estimated to be twenty-six million in existence (Austria, for the record, has a population of just over eight million ...

What’s in the bottle?

Donald MacKenzie: The Science Wars Revisited, 9 May 2002

The One Culture? A Conversation about Science 
edited by Jay Labinger and Harry Collins.
Chicago, 329 pp., £41, August 2001, 0 226 46722 8
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... and science administrator (Labinger), and a well-known, controversial sociologist of science (Collins). The volume brings together the science warriors – Sokal, the Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg and Kenneth Wilson, and their fellow physicists Jean Bricmont and David Mermin – with a selective group of the targets of their criticism: sociologists and ...
Body Work 
by Peter Brooks.
Harvard, 325 pp., £39.95, May 1993, 0 674 07724 5
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... theory section of the local bookshop from the soft porn shelves, sort out the latest Jackie Collins from the later Roland Barthes. Many an eager masturbator must have borne away some sexy-looking tome only to find himself reading up on the floating signifier. Sexuality began in the late Sixties, as an extension of radical politics into regions it had ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... as John Minton who absorbed most from these works, and visionaries of a different sort – Cecil Collins, for example – who were able to go on tapping an analogous vein. Palmer’s gift to posterity was a kind of dream landscape, best seen in the early night scenes. It finds echoes in English romantic painting of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, but closer to ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... to the Court of Appeal in 1981. Rozenberg quotes ‘a brave and decent judgment’ from Mr Justice Collins: ‘I find it impossible to believe that Parliament intended that an asylum seeker who was lawfully here, and who could not lawfully be removed from the country, should be left destitute, starving and at risk of grave illness and even death because he ...
Ngaio Marsh: A Life 
by Margaret Lewis.
Chatto, 276 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 7011 3389 9
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... and Honeydew, should, she later remarked, have been called ‘Other People’, and her editor at Collins describes it as ‘pretty dull, largely because of her reticence’. Ngaio Marsh was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1895. Reference works give her date of birth as 1899, the year in which it was registered by her father Henry, who, absent-minded ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... had a depressing effect on her in bookshops, and as a novelist of improbable incompetence. Collins ‘said they’d have to have a typescript by mid-January’, she told Francis King, ‘so I had to sit down and write a novel and, worse still, type it’. On the reverse side of this fabric, woven from an often difficult life, is to be found the ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... struck him as ‘bizarre’, in that the interview took place on the day her husband, Peter Robinson, went to Downing Street to accept the role of First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly ‘and there really was a sense that Iris had stolen his thunder’. Black, who was hired as her political adviser, does not say when he decided to ...

Am I intruding?

Peter Campbell: Open Windows, 3 November 2011

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century 
by Sabine Rewald.
Yale, 190 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 300 16977 5
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... to myself (with a sense of surprise which words fail me to express), The lady is ugly! Wilkie Collins uses the withheld information of a back view to preface a revelation. A painter can’t do that. In pictures the effect is more often to make you wonder, not how a person looks, but what they think about the view that you and they share. Friedrich painted ...

Ripping Yarns

John Sutherland, 8 April 1993

Tennyson 
by Michael Thorn.
Little, Brown, 566 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90299 3
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Tennyson 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 370 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 333 52205 2
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... decade there have been four authoritative biographies of Trollope; two of Dickens; two of Wilkie Collins; three of Stevenson (one down, two to come); and – with the present centennial haul – three of Tennyson. Given the huge expenditure of scholarly energy modern biography demands it would be rational to redistribute some of it. One would like more ...

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