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12 May 1994
Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... There was little to suggest, twenty-odd years ago, that Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Sergeant Peter Pascoe would develop as they have, except ReginaldHill’s unusual and wise decision never to write consecutive novels about them.* Their debut in A Clubbable Woman (1970) came eight years after Julian Symons had first pronounced the ‘detective story ...

Short Cuts

Patrick Wright: The Moral of Brenley Corner

6 December 2018
... of rural excursion to the county that still liked to think of itself as the ‘Garden of England’. Enthusiasts would drive to the village of Boughton after nightfall just to park at the top of the hill and watch in amazement as the lorries hauled themselves up and out of the village, shattering the night with blazing lights and roaring engines – and, as was surely registered by the Tolkien-addled ...
22 May 1986
Victorian News and Newspapers 
by Lucy Brown.
Oxford, 305 pp., £32.50, November 1985, 0 19 822624 1
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... about Palmerston: Miss Brown takes it for granted that he exploited ‘systems of publicity’, left unexplained, which Gladstone, for example, was to imitate. It is true that as long ago as 1910 Reginald Lucas wrote a revealing book, Lord Glenesk and the ‘Morning Post’, which revealed many details of the fascinating relationship between Palmerston and the press, and that Stephen Koss in the first ...

Degradation, Ugliness and Tears

Mary Beard: Harrow School

7 June 2001
A History of Harrow School 
by Christopher Tyerman.
Oxford, 599 pp., £30, October 2000, 0 19 822796 5
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... school system more generally. Christopher Wordsworth may have been an unworldly incompetent, who was said to have breathed ‘the atmosphere of the Council of Nicaea’ rather than Harrow-on-the-Hill, but his ineptness cannot explain why Westminster’s pupil numbers were also plummeting (from 300 in 1821 to 67 twenty years later), as were Shrewsbury’s, Winchester’s and Rugby’s. This ...

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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... fairy aunt is a modest little person whose homely and unpretending miniatures are for the amusement of little people.’ She is less provoked by the adventures of Janeites like Constance and Ellen Hill, who at the beginning of the 20th century made a pilgrimage to the places associated with Austen. They ran into trouble before they even reached Steventon: no one had heard of the nearby hamlet of ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade

17 August 2006
... for the affirmation that the experience is survivable, they wallow and tussle, necks stiff, heads high above the tannin scum: leathery seaweed, wads of yellow paper. They tiptoe out, speeded-up Benny Hill, over sharp stones, to neat piles of folded clothes. The watched, towelled down and returned to their balconies, rusting rails and anti-gull devices, become the watchers. A slow-motion cinema of such ...
29 October 1987
Oscar Wilde 
by Richard Ellmann.
Hamish Hamilton, 632 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 241 12392 5
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... done so. Beerbohm did not spurn him but kept his distance. Of his old friends Robbie Ross, who had introduced Wilde to homosexuality at the age of 32, stood by him to the end, and he was supported by Reginald Turner and Frank Harris. They were joined by Jean Dupoirier, proprietor of the Paris hotel in which Wilde died, and perhaps of all his friends the most disinterested and serviceable. It is easy to ...

The Crowe is White

Hilary Mantel: Bloody Mary

24 September 2009
Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor 
by Eamon Duffy.
Yale, 249 pp., £19.99, June 2009, 978 0 300 15216 6
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... dead tradition, but were inspired by nascent Counter-Reformation spirit and connected intellectually to the European movements of their time. The chief actor in Fires of Faith is not Mary herself but Reginald Pole, the churchman who was the queen’s closest adviser in her campaign, and who had spent much of his life in exile. Born in the year 1500, Pole was a Plantagenet, with a claim to the English ...

On the Window Ledge of the Union

Colin Kidd: Loyalism v. Unionism

7 February 2013
Belfast 400: People, Place and History 
edited by S.J. Connolly.
Liverpool, 392 pp., £14.95, November 2012, 978 1 84631 634 0
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Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society 
edited by Liam Kennedy and Philip Ollerenshaw.
Oxford, 355 pp., £35, November 2012, 978 0 19 958311 9
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The Plantation of Ulster: Ideology and Practice 
edited by Eamonn O Ciardha and Micheál O Siochrú.
Manchester, 269 pp., £70, October 2012, 978 0 7190 8608 3
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The End of Ulster Loyalism? 
by Peter Shirlow.
Manchester, 230 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 7190 8476 8
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... For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country.’ Visiting Northern Ireland as home secretary in 1970, Reginald Maudling, whose mellow moderation verged on a slothful desire for an easy life, was understandably exasperated by the Ulster problem – but no more so than a long line of politicians, before and ...

Hard Romance

Barbara Everett

8 February 1996
... to her work. And Gard does notice Margaret: he calls her ‘the one completely superfluous figure in Jane Austen’s novels’. He is supported, moreover, by an equally classic account of the writer, Reginald Farrer’s 1917 essay, which remarks: ‘Never again does the writer introduce a character so entirely irrelevant as Margaret Dashwood.’ They are right, of course. But such fighting terms from ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937

24 September 2009
Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... was at the front. In the spring of 1937 Charles and Lois took a day out with Eileen in the country (‘so mountainous and beautiful’), starting early and returning late: ‘we climbed part way up a hill and lay in the grass for a couple of hours in the sun eating candy and talking.’ Eileen had no axe to grind, which made her a rare bird among the expats in Barcelona and may have accounted for her ...

Trying to Make Decolonisation Look Good

Bernard Porter: The End of Empire

2 August 2007
Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-68 
by Ronald Hyam.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £17.99, February 2007, 978 0 521 68555 9
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The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 559 pp., August 2007, 978 0 7139 9830 6
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Forgotten Wars: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire 
by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper.
Allen Lane, 673 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9782 8
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... as a proper colonising presence – only 56 years in Burma. Government was spread thin. Over large areas it worked indirectly – through local sultans and rajahs, for example, or by allowing the hill ‘tribes’ their head. ‘There was a curious insubstantial quality to Britain’s Asian empire … The British governed, but they did not, strictly speaking, rule.’ In the Malay States it was ...
21 March 2019
... him to act against the king or make him ‘any the less free to speak or less able to advise and assent to anything which might further the reformation of the Christian religion’. As his successor, Reginald Pole, wisecracked a few weeks later, ‘other perjurers be wont to break their oath after they have sworn, you break it before.’ Two days later, Cranmer rammed through both houses of Convocation ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front

4 April 2002
... tiny-eyed shark, jaws open wide in prehistoric eagerness. This was far worse: a ghastly corpse-face at the bedroom window! The tattered rendition of the Last Post, by a pair of insect-buglers on the hill opposite, didn’t help. A prayer was said; the bouquets deposited; the tremors persisted. I had yet to see any Night of the Living Dead movies at this point; but when I did, back in San Diego a few ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections

18 May 2000
... seems, could not. Tragedy lies round the corner. The next we hear of Frederick Tomkins is the following year, up in Highgate. The address sounds pleasant enough – 6 Prospect Terrace, on leafy North Hill – but if he was there for reasons of health it was to no avail. He died there on 6 October 1852, at the age of 28, his head horribly swollen by cerebral dropsy or ‘water on the brain’. The ...

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