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John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold

19 March 1998
A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... The last few decades have been good for Matthew Arnold. In 1977, R.H.Super completed the 11-volume Complete Prose Works, a venture that seemed quixotic (‘all those school reports!’) when he began it in 1960. The complete Poems, edited, tidied up and annotated by Kenneth ...

Unhappy Childhoods

John Sutherland

2 February 1989
Trollope and Character 
by Stephen Wall.
Faber, 397 pp., £17.50, September 1988, 0 571 14595 7
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The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Michigan, 528 pp., $35, December 1988, 0 472 10102 1
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Dickens: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 607 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 340 48558 2
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Charlotte Brontë 
by Rebecca Fraser.
Methuen, 543 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 9780413570109
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... 1927 Commentary and the author’s own posthumous An Autobiography have had to serve as the standard accounts of Trollope’s life. Three modern biographers have set out to fill the gap. R.H.Super has delivered his book first; N. John Hall’s and Victoria Glendinning’s Trollopes are still to come. Sportingly, Super subtitles his biography ‘A Life’, leaving open the possibility that this ...

Trollopiad

John Sutherland

9 January 1992
The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Manchester, 528 pp., £29.95, July 1990, 0 472 10102 1
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Anthony Trollope: A Victorian in his World 
by Richard Mullen.
Duckworth,​ 767 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 7156 2293 5
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Trollope: A Biography 
by N. John Hall.
Oxford, 581 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 19 812627 1
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... this is one of the most disarmingly candid confessions ever written. But where it can be checked, An Autobiography is sometimes misleading – perhaps deliberately so. Of the three biographers, R.H.Super is most suspicious of the testimony of An Autobiography and disregards it wherever he can. It is not, he says, ‘the authoritative record of events put down as they actually occurred’. Richard ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... by N. John Hall, ‘Trollope the Person’, accompanied by the contributor’s note ‘Professor Hall is at present writing a biography of Trollope.’ It was not a secret; nor was the fact that R.S. Super was hot on Hall’s heels (he actually overtook him on the last lap, as did the dark horse Richard Mullen). Glendinning bravely maintains that even if she had known she would not have cared: ‘if ...

Solomon Tuesday

Rosemary Ashton

8 January 1987
R.H.​ Hutton: Critic and Theologian 
by Malcolm Woodfield.
Oxford, 227 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 19 818564 2
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... face of geology, Darwin and the higher criticism – indeed, he moved from Unitarianism to orthodox Church-of-Englandism, progressing to the brink of conversion to Catholicism in 1871-2 – he was super-sensitive to the difficulties of maintaining faith under their multiple onslaught. He despised the ostrich attitude of some important churchmen in these matters, and had a subtle sympathy for those ...

Fallacies

Peter Laslett

19 February 1987
Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County 1649-1699 
by Roger Thompson.
Massachusetts, 252 pp., £28.50, October 1986, 0 87023 516 8
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Breasts, Bottles and Babies: A History of Infant Feeding 
by Valerie Fildes.
Edinburgh,​ 462 pp., £19.75, August 1986, 0 85224 462 2
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... Of the remaining 10 per cent, he effectively demonstrates, precious little had to do with sex. There is nothing left for a special relationship between American puritan doctrine, the puritan super-ego and the so-called specifics of the American character. Thompson is by no means the only historian to reject the supposed identification between puritanism, prudery and repression. The stated ...

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