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21 February 1991
Samuel Butler: A Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... in the Notebooks: ‘The Three Most Important Things a man has are his private parts, his money, and his religious opinions.’ Whether that applied to women as well is less easy to say. Nor does PeterRaby, in an admirably balanced and judicious biography, have much light to throw upon the question. However unusual he was as an individual, Butler belonged to a well-defined Victorian male grouping ...

Mrs Berlioz

Patrick Carnegy

30 December 1982
Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz 
by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £12.95, September 1982, 0 521 24421 8
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Mazeppa: The Lives, Loves and Legends of Adah Isaacs Menken 
by Wolf Mankowitz.
Blond and Briggs, 270 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 85634 119 3
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... her as the mad Ophelia were in every prinitshop window. Ladies of fashion demanded coiffure ‘à la Miss Smithson’ – a black veil with wisps of straw tastefully interwoven amongst the hair. As PeterRaby puts it, in a biography which for the first time gives her side of the story, ‘the conjunction of beauty, forlorn love, madness and premature death’ was irresistible to the French. Through ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... with ‘a boy from Ireland suddenly surrounded by lots of posh people’. It makes you wonder why Lord and Lady Wilde paid those school fees. Merlin Holland’s essay on his grandfather in PeterRaby’s Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde illuminates these appropriations by charting a series of significant errors through multiple versions of Wilde’s history. Holland takes us back to one of the ...
17 October 1985
Poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance 
by Peter​ Godman.
Duckworth, 364 pp., £29.50, February 1985, 0 7156 1768 0
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... or Paris, or Bologna – Latin was your language, quite as much as if it had been learned in Rome, and you would write chronicles or treatises or poems in that language, not in the local vernacular. Peter Godman’s anthology of poems of the Carolingian period provides some remarkable instances of this international character of Medieval Latin. Here in the eighth and ninth centuries, if ever, is a ...

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