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21 November 1985
The New Select Committees: A Study of the 1979 Reforms 
edited by Gavin Drewry.
Oxford, 410 pp., £25, September 1985, 9780198227854
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Commons Select Committees: Catalysts for Progress? 
edited by Dermot Englefield.
Longman, 288 pp., £15, May 1984, 0 582 90260 6
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British Government and the Constitution: Text, Cases and Materials 
by Colin Turpin.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 297 78651 2
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Parliament in the 1980s 
edited by Philip Norton.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £19.50, July 1985, 0 631 14056 5
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... to the retrospective work of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee. How do the committees fit in with the broader life of politics (a subject largely ignored by contributors)? PhilipNorton has highlighted the change in MPs’ behaviour – a move towards independence and rebellion which began in the early 1970s when the Heath Administration had a working majority and which ...
18 July 1985
The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a ...
23 February 1995
Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball.
Oxford, 842 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 19 820238 5
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... a standard book. Indeed, one of the strengths of the volume lies in its success in securing acknowledged authorities on specialist topics to write essays which provide a synthesis of their research. PhilipNorton (who made his name writing about dissident Conservative MPs long before nature imitated art and this became such a fashionable activity) proves a lucid and well-informed guide to the workings ...

A Man with My Trouble

Colm Tóibín: Henry James leaves home

3 January 2008
The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume I 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 391 pp., £57, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2584 8
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The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume II 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 524 pp., £60, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2607 4
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... that included 1100 letters, noting that ‘the large James archives in many libraries will provide opportunities for amplification and further collections in the years to come.’ In 1999, when Philip Horne edited Henry James: A Life in Letters, which remains the best single selection of James’s letters – the greatest hits, all 296 of them, superbly annotated and put in context – he pointed ...


Margaret Anne Doody

5 August 1993
The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in 18th-century Britain 
by G.J. Barker-Benfield.
Chicago, 520 pp., £39.95, October 1992, 0 226 03713 4
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Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context 
by Ann Jessie van Sant.
Cambridge, 143 pp., £27.95, January 1993, 0 521 40226 3
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Drunks, Whores and Idle Apprentices: Criminal Biographies of the 18th Century 
by Philip​ Rawlings.
Routledge, 222 pp., £40, October 1992, 0 415 05056 1
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Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830 
by Rictor Norton.
Gay Men’s Press, 302 pp., £12.95, September 1992, 0 85449 188 0
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... and even in the working classes. The working classes were experiencing large social changes, including the breakdown of the old apprenticeship system and the uncertain life of circulating labour. As Philip Rawlings points out, in introducing the criminal biographies that make up Drunks, Whores and Idle Apprentices, a poor apprentice (like Jack Shepherd, the apprentice-turned-criminal whose case he ...

How good is it?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB

3 February 2011
The Holy Bible: King James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... auxiliary status: now, because of the different use to which we put them, the italicised words shout their presence (the radically different visual effect of the original is illustrated in David Norton’s The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today, as well as in Campbell’s own Bible, another history of the KJB). It’s a pity, but the change emphasises just how remote the modern ...

Manly Love

John Bayley

28 January 1993
Walt Whitman: From Moon to Starry Night 
by Philip​ Callow.
Allison and Busby, 394 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 85031 908 0
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The Double Life of Stephen Crane 
by Christopher Benfey.
Deutsch, 294 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 233 98820 3
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... resemblance of the aged Walt Whitman to ‘a great old Angora Tom’. The marvellous old poet, with his soft white hair and snowy silken ruff of beard, would have been delighted by the compliment. Philip Callow’s book is the most imaginative re-creation yet made of the poet’s daily physical being, and the photographs of the poet at all ages, from early manhood and the strange Piero Christlikeness ...

Eliot at smokefall

Barbara Everett

24 January 1985
... most of whose work is at least as much involved with ‘hidden perceptions and experiences’ as it is with the ‘observable life’ (it is Ackroyd himself, as we shall see, who speaks of ‘Burnt Norton’ as containing something ‘concealed’). The crux of the matter is that Eliot becomes eligible for biographical treatment by virtue of poems which are themselves a form of ‘event’, a form of ...

Are you a Spenserian?

Colin Burrow: Philology

6 November 2014
Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities 
by James Turner.
Princeton, 550 pp., £24.95, June 2014, 978 0 691 14564 8
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... Turner insists that beneath all these distinct disciplines lies ‘the philologist’s need to establish precise contexts for understanding texts’. His hero is the Harvard scholar Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), the subject of one of his previous books, whom he regards as a philologist in the grand, pre-disciplinary sense. Norton completed James Russell Lowell’s edition of Donne’s poems ...

Halls and Hovels

Colin Richmond

19 December 1991
The Architecture of Medieval Britain 
by Colin Platt, with photographs by Anthony Kersting.
Yale, 325 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 300 04953 6
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... the Temple Church. There is not a glimpse of the town houses of Medieval Britain, Lavenham and the ‘Jews House’ at Lincoln apart (with never a soul in sight); only the imposing inns of Grantham, Norton St Philip and Glastonbury are pictured. It might be argued that the great cities are too drastically altered for photographs of their Medieval fragments to be worthy of inclusion; it could also be ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter

22 September 1994
Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... a substantial critical genre in their own right. Wagner-Martin’s book joins such stimulating American precursors as Carolyn Heilbrun’s Writing a Woman’s Life (1988) and Phyllis Rose’s Norton Anthology of Women’s Lives (1990). The writers of these books, along with the historians who contributed to The Challenge of Feminist Biography (1992), did indeed tackle dangerous issues ...

I blame Foucault

Jenny Diski: Bush’s women

22 September 2005
Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species 
by Laura Flanders.
Verso, 342 pp., £10, July 2005, 1 84467 530 0
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... W. stands for women,’ cried Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Elaine Chao and Gale Ann Norton at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and in case the Good Ol’ Boy’s good old ladies didn’t get it, a banner explained: ‘The country and my administration have benefited from the strong ...


Philip​ Horne

30 August 1990
Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... of the Dove –’ When they became better acquainted her expressions mellowed, as loyalty demanded. By 1907, James was with the Whartons in Paris for a two-month stay, and she wrote to Charles Eliot Norton in praise of her visitor’s character (not his works): ‘The more one knows him the more one wonders – admires the mixture of wisdom – tolerance, of sensitiveness – sympathy, that makes his ...
18 December 1986
Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... Paul Theroux. At Rye, he thought about Burra, a visit to the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth let him recall horrible schooldays at Worcester, at Hull he had a Lebanese meal with Philip Larkin. ‘But I like mushy food, it’s the only food I really enjoy now,’ Larkin maintained. There is no evidence that Raban discovered, on land or sea or sky, what makes his country tick. He ...
6 July 1989
Talking Blues: The Police in their Own Words 
by Roger Graef.
Collins Harvill, 512 pp., £15, May 1989, 0 00 272436 7
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... demonstration; £20,000 to Mr Carl Kelly who was arrested and, he alleged, beaten up while protesting about the death of another man, Colin Roach, in a police station; £48,699 to Stephen Dowsett and Philip Tape who were walking home from a dance a little drunk when they were bundled into a police van, taken to a police station and so terribly beaten that Dowsett’s jaw had to be re-set in two places ...

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