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Lord Randolph’s Coming-Out

Paul Addison, 3 December 1981

Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 431 pp., £16, November 1981, 0 19 822679 9
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... once in a delicate line-drawing of the 1950s, by Robert Rhodes James. But all this time, as Roy Foster’s book makes plain, another Lord Randolph has lain concealed by the conventions of portraiture. Winston, to whom his father was a divinity but also a stranger, wanted to prove that Lord Randolph possessed all the attributes of the ideal ...

Upper Ireland

Nicholas Canny, 16 March 1989

Modern Ireland 1600-1972 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £18.95, October 1988, 0 7139 9010 4
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... of Ireland seems insatiable and sales can match those of a moderately successful novel. Roy Foster’s Modern Ireland has exceeded such expectations. It has recorded sales in excess of 12,000 hardback copies on the Irish market alone since its publication in October 1988. Such an astonishing success is richly deserved. ...

New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... in our glorious past, and it was essential for our past to be glorious if our present, in what Roy Foster in his new book of essays calls ‘the disillusioned tranquillity of the Free State’, was to have any meaning. This was what our ancestors fought for; we had it now; it had to be good. At the launch of his book Thomas Pakenham sat on a podium at the top ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916, 15 July 2015

Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... least in the minds of its signatories, for five days before the rebellion was crushed. Yet as Roy Foster implies, the founding of a republic was not as clear-cut a goal for the precursors of the men of 1916, or even for the men, and women, of the War of Independence that broke out in 1919, as later nationalist piety would insist. It is startling to read, in ...

What he did

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1997

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... large-scale biography of Yeats, died in 1983, and after some vicissitudes the task devolved on Roy Foster, the professor of Irish history at Oxford. He has had access to Lyons’s notes and transcripts, invaluable to a successor confronted, as he says, with ‘a vast and unfamiliar subject’. Vast it remains, but the unfamiliarity has clearly ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... this practice: the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford, for example, calls himself R.F. Foster when in full academic dress and Roy when in more shirt-sleeved mode. But it may be a sign of Taylor’s intense attachment to early 20th-century English writing, a period on which it is hard to outmatch his knowledge, that he should opt for this way of ...

Heimat

David Craig, 6 July 1989

A Search for Scotland 
by R.F. Mackenzie.
Collins, 280 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 00 215185 5
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A Claim of Right for Scotland 
edited by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 202 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6022 4
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The Eclipse of Scottish Culture 
by Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull.
Polygon, 121 pp., £6.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6000 3
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The Bird Path: Collected Longer Poems 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 239 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 245 2
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Travels in the Drifting Dawn 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 160 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 240 1
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... studies of economy, politics and culture by social historians as intelligent as John McEwen, John Foster and Ian Carter, writers as good as John McGrath and Tom Nairn, politicians as energetic as Robin Cook and Jim Sillars. To write for it felt like good militant fun (I contributed the piece on ‘The Radical Literary Tradition’) – a fling at the ...

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