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Dearest Papa

Richard Altick, 1 September 1983

The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin 
edited by George Allan Cate.
Stanford, 251 pp., $28.50, August 1982, 0 8047 1114 3
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Ruskin Today 
by Kenneth Clark.
Penguin, 363 pp., £2.95, October 1982, 0 14 006326 9
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John Ruskin: Letters from the Continent 1858 
edited by John Hayman.
Toronto, 207 pp., £19.50, December 1982, 0 8020 5583 4
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... in Britain, Canada and the United States instead of in a formidable single collection to match Cook and Wedderburn’s 38-volume edition of his works, however convenient such a comprehensive edition would be. As these relatively thin volumes come from the press, each one freshly illustrates the towering first truth about Ruskin: that in his ...

Evil Man

Simon Schaffer: Joseph Priestley, 21 May 1998

The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733 to 1773 
by Robert Schofield.
Pennsylvania State, 328 pp., £35.95, January 1998, 0 271 01662 0
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... the work. This halt in the narrative of Priestley’s remarkable career invites comparison with Richard Holmes’s biography of Coleridge, which stopped just as his protagonist set sail in spring 1804 for Mediterranean exile, or with Janet Browne’s recent first volume of a large-scale life of Charles Darwin. Holmes asks what we might now think of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013, 9 January 2014

... the medieval historian Bruce McFarlane, would be much exercised by the discovery of the body of Richard III, though there would be some mild satisfaction in finding the king exactly where the sources said he was. McFarlane wouldn’t have thought the body particularly informative as compared with the real stuff of history, some of the ex-duke of York’s ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on ...

‘Turbot, sir,’ said the waiter

E.S. Turner, 4 April 1991

After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... restlessness in After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse. Readers of this journal may recall a Diary by Richard Usborne (LRB, 4 October 1984) in which a determined investigation into the origins of Wodehouse’s use of ‘exquisite Tanagra figurine’ led to an evocation of the days when cut-price Boeotian coroplasts cluttered the shops of St Tropez. That Diary is ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines, 16 March 2000

Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... years frustrated by his wife, who behaved after their separation with the magnanimity of Margaret Cook. (His 1873 novel Kenelm Chillingly contains numerous jibes at the institution of marriage.) His peerage was finally gazetted in 1866. He experimented with different genres, not (as his enemies said) as an eager caterer to the restless appetite of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... than an insight into Lean’s career, and in fact he made a television film about Captain Cook in this period as well as preparing for a finally scuttled remake of Mutiny on the Bounty; but there is no doubt that he felt he had got something wrong and that he didn’t like being wrong. It is also true that he had earlier managed to keep going in spite ...

At Turner Contemporary

Eleanor Birne: ‘Curiosity’, 18 July 2013

... tiny artworks made from split lengths of human hair, collected by the artist Susan Hiller, to Richard Wentworth’s snapshots of traffic cones or abandoned gloves or old boots. Some of the objects are related in theme: to go with the Arctic tusk and its story of loss, there’s also a king penguin Shackleton brought back from the other pole, now stiff as ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... for darker kinds of commission, though they weren’t seen in the magazine much beyond the 1970s. Richard Ingrams, the editor for more than 25 years, used to work up subjects with them in the old days until, as he recalls it, Scarfe ‘got very grand and didn’t like being given ideas’. Despite the odd little text or a letter in longhand, writing is in ...

How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth: Early Modern Cookbooks, 5 January 2017

Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen 
by Wendy Wall.
Pennsylvania, 328 pp., £53, November 2015, 978 0 8122 4758 9
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... entangled (Partridge’s text is addressed not only to ‘Good Huswives’ but also to Richard Wistow, assistant to the Company of Barbers and Surgeons). According to Galenic humoural theory, health was a matter of balancing the black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm that swam through the body, and food was a crucial means of establishing this ...

Realty Meltdown

Geoff Dyer, 24 August 1995

Independence Day 
by Richard Ford.
Harvill, 451 pp., £14.99, July 1995, 1 86046 020 8
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... Richard Ford’s narrator, Frank Bascombe, quit serious writing to become a sports-writer. This was the making of Ford. It wasn’t until he became Bascombe, the sportswriter, that Ford turned himself into a major novelist. At odd moments in The Sportswriter, Frank looks back on his abandoned literary career. He had published a ‘promising’ collection of stories, Blue Autumn, and had then started on a novel which he never finished ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... can be put down to Post-Modern faddishness, though vampires have a more venerable pedigree, as Richard Davenport-Hines notes in his agreeable romp through Gothic art from Salvator Rosa to Damien Hirst. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, now translated into over forty languages, has exerted an enduring fascination since its publication in 1897, with Dracula himself ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year, 14 December 1995

... true celebrity ‘delivers’. He or she keeps weaving and moving in an effort not to disappoint. Richard Nixon was such a one. Every time a new segment of Watergate tape was released, revealing his Jew-baiting or thuggery or corruption, he would publish a new book on grand strategy or at least fly to Beijing. What a trouper! Such a pro! Say what you like ...

Sun and Strawberries

Mary Beard: Gwen Raverat, 19 September 2002

Gwen Raverat: Friends, Family and Affections 
by Frances Spalding.
Harvill, 438 pp., £30, June 2001, 1 86046 746 6
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... few pages before being overwhelmed by its complex cast of late Victorian characters, who – like Richard Jebb – have long since ceased to be household names, if indeed they ever were; and by what now comes across as its cloyingly sentimental perspective on the sun and strawberries of late Victorian privilege, unmitigated (as Raven observed) by much ...

Dun-Coloured Dust

Thomas de Waal: Russia’s war, 15 July 1999

Russia's War 
by Richard Overy.
Penguin, 416 pp., £8.99, July 1999, 0 14 027169 4
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Stalingrad 
by Antony Beevor.
Viking, 512 pp., £12.99, May 1999, 0 14 024985 0
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... Certainly the history of what actually happened in the war has only just begun to be written. Richard Overy’s impressive overview is a reminder of how poorly the English-speaking reader has been served with histories of the war on the Eastern Front. Although it was of a far greater order of magnitude than the war in the West (Hitler sent 228 divisions ...

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