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Worse than Pagans

Tom Shippey: The Church v. the Fairies, 1 December 2016

Elf Queens and Holy Friars: Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church 
by Richard FirthGreen.
Pennsylvania, 285 pp., £36, August 2016, 978 0 8122 4843 2
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... Back then the land was ‘fulfild of fayerye’, and the elf queen danced with her company in the green meadows. But that’s all over now. The elves and fairies have been driven out by the friars, who have blanketed the country with prayers and blessings. Women can go anywhere in safety, because there is no ‘incubus’ left lurking in the bushes except for ...


Dani Garavelli: Searching for the ‘Bonhomme Richard’, 25 January 2024

... on the bronze plaque on the stern, but only by tilting your head can you make out the faded ‘RICHARD’ below.I now know a good deal about the Bonhomme Richard. I know that it was originally a French merchant vessel called the Duc de Duras; that it was loaned to the fledgling US navy; and that it took part in the War ...

Regicide Rocks

Clare Jackson, 17 November 2022

Act of Oblivion 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson Heinemann, 480 pp., £22, September, 978 1 5291 5175 6
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... Ludlow were first published posthumously in 1698-99, and edited in two volumes in 1894 by Charles Firth, later the Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford. For centuries, the Memoirs were one of the best-known sources on the civil wars. Then, in 1970, a manuscript of Ludlow’s titled ‘A Voyce from the Watch Tower’ was auctioned at Sotheby’s and ...

Shock Cities

Susan Pedersen: The Fate of Social Democracy, 2 January 2020

Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town 
by Guy Ortolano.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £29.99, June 2019, 978 1 108 48266 0
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Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England 
by Jon Lawrence.
Oxford, 327 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 0 19 877953 7
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... the new towns – Ortolano calls it ‘welfare state modernism’ (clean modernist lines, but in green, airy and usually low-rise estates) – ran into trouble: first, because the need to build fast and cheaply, at a time of serious shortages of materials, led to substitutions and the cutting of corners; second, because the style itself, as the privatisation ...

Chasing Steel

Ian Jack: Scotland’s Ferry Fiasco, 22 September 2022

... dredgers, the sludge boats that took the sewage from Glasgow and dumped it in the outer firth.The bigger and more glamorous yards lay upriver at Dumbarton and Clydebank, where John Brown’s built the Queens for Cunard, and inside Glasgow’s city boundaries, where five or six companies on both banks (among them Harland & Wolff, Fairfield and ...

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