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Jane Austen’s Children

Brigid Brophy, 6 December 1979

Jane Austen’s Letters 
edited by R.W. Chapman.
Oxford, 519 pp., £15
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... In one respect at least we must be glad Jane Austen refused the proposal of marriage made her in 1802. Literature would be a little less seemly had she obliged us to think of our greatest (indeed, I more and more suspect, the greatest) novelist as Jane Bigg-Wither. Her invention was more euphonious. Trying, in 1809, to recover the novel that a publisher had bought for £10 and sat on, unpublished, for six years (one of the lessons of the Letters is that nothing changes in the book trade), she asked for the manuscript to be returned to her as ‘Mrs Ashton Dennis ...

Pleased to Be Loony

Alice Spawls: The Janeites, 8 November 2012

Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures 
by Claudia Johnson.
Chicago, 224 pp., £22.50, June 2012, 978 0 226 40203 1
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... The nostalgic tendency of Victorian readers did not disappear altogether, though. For R.W. Chapman – editor of the first authoritative edition of the novels in 1923 – it was reshaped into what Johnson describes as ‘philologically oriented conservatism’. The eccentricity remained: stationed in Macedonia during the First World War, ...

Bring some Madeira

Thomas Keymer: Thomas Love Peacock, 8 February 2018

Nightmare Abbey 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Nicholas A. Joukovsky.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £84.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03186 9
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Crotchet Castle 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Freya Johnston and Matthew Bevis.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £79.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03072 5
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... in subterranean caves’. Perhaps it was the common ground with Northanger Abbey that made R.W. Chapman turn to Peacock after completing his uniform Austen of 1923, though his efforts yielded only an Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Misfortunes of Elphin, with Crotchet Castle as a makeweight. In his meticulous edition, part of the complete novels ...

Ducking and Dodging

R.W. Johnson: Agent Zigzag, 19 July 2007

Agent Zigzag 
by Ben Macintyre.
Bloomsbury, 372 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 7475 8794 1
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... In December 1940, Ben Macintyre’s anti-hero, Eddie Chapman, was in jail in Jersey – he already had a long record, including everything from safe-breaking to blackmail – when the Nazi occupiers threw a young hotel dishwasher, Tony Faramus, into the same jail; Faramus became Chapman’s cellmate and friend ...


Terry Castle, 3 August 1995

Jane Austen’s Letters 
edited by Deirde Le Faye.
Oxford, 621 pp., £30, March 1995, 0 19 811764 7
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... in 1884. A number of other letters have surfaced since then; the great Austen scholar, R.W. Chapman, issued the first modern edition of the correspondence in 1932. Still, only 161 Austen letters are known to exist today, and many only in Cassandra-mangled form. Deirdre Le Faye, editor of the excellent new revised Oxford edition of the letters, defends ...

The Education of Philip French

Marilyn Butler, 16 October 1980

Three Honest Men: Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling 
edited by Philip French.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 85635 299 3
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F.R. Leavis 
by William Walsh.
Chatto, 189 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7011 2503 9
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... Jane Austen was that of an educated man of the world who had read Marx and Freud rather than R.W. Chapman and Mary Lascelles, and it proposed an alternative both to the old-style Brahmins and to the new-style technocrats of American graduate schools. Edmund Wilson, who in his maturity became a more pugnacious personality than Trilling ever was, maintained a ...


R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... its citizens that the KGB exists and who the head of it is. It is on this crazy situation that Chapman Pincher has built his entire career. Since he is extremely right-wing, and willing to swallow even the most ridiculous claptrap in the furtherance of the Anti-Communist Cause, Pincher at least has some access to the officers of MI5 – for in practice the ...

The Greatest Error of Modern History

R.W. Johnson: Did the Kaiser get it right?, 18 February 1999

The Pity of War 
by Niall Ferguson.
Allen Lane, 512 pp., £16.99, November 1998, 0 7139 9246 8
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... of comradeship with one another, but because many of them liked it; they wanted to fight. To Guy Chapman war was ‘a mistress – once you have lain in her arms you can admit no other’. Teilhard de Chardin spoke of discovering within oneself ‘an underlying stream of clarity, energy and freedom that is to be found hardly anywhere in ordinary life’. As ...

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