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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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... has, of course, been depicted before: once in a majestic Edwardian canvas by his son Winston, and 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 ...

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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... realise this ambition can be certain of at least an earthly reward, since the demand for general histories 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 ...
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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... Scullabogue. Its memory was erased from what a child could learn about 1798. It was a complication 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 ...

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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... had been proclaimed by the leaders of the Rising in Dublin on Easter Monday 1916, and had lasted, at 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 ...

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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... F.S.L. Lyons, who first undertook this 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 ...

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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... doctrine of aesthetic impersonality, which was in fashion at the time. Taylor is by no means alone in 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 ...

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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... caps of Leith dockers in 1913, striking for a living wage. It brought together solid and passionate 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 ...

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