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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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... critic. There is, perhaps, no need to topple Arnold from his eminence, but it is high time that a close competitor was brought out from the shadows where he now lurks, uncollected and unread. For RichardHolt Hutton was a prodigious and impressive critic. And unlike Arnold he made literary (and theological) criticism his profession. Hutton was the author of about seven thousand reviews and essays. He ...

Aux sports, citoyens

Douglas Johnson

3 December 1981
Sport and Society in Modern France 
by Richard Holt.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £20, July 1981, 0 333 25951 3
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... RichardHolt begins his book on French sport with two misleading observations. In the one, he recalls that when, in the course of his research, a pile of books on football or on cycling arrived on his desk at the ...

Thinking about Death

Michael Wood: Why does the world exist?

21 March 2013
Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story 
by Jim Holt.
Profile, 307 pp., £12.99, June 2012, 978 1 84668 244 5
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... there to perceive it, and it doesn’t show why its existence should matter. It’s just in the way. The proof helps us still less with Stephen Hawking’s question, adduced on the first pages of Jim Holt’s book: ‘Why does the universe go through all the bother of existing?’ Mattering and bothering are important issues in Holt’s quest, but they tend to be treated as entailments and sidebars ...

Robin’s Hoods

Patrick Wormald

5 May 1983
Robin Hood 
by J.C. Holt.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £8.95, May 1982, 0 500 25081 2
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The Early History of Glastonbury: An Edition, Translation and Study of William of Malmesbury’s ‘De Antiquitate Glastonie Ecclesie’ 
by John Scott.
Boydell, 224 pp., £25, January 1982, 9780851151540
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by John Michell.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 9780500012611
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... to the importance of legends, are critical in their approach; the other, not the Medieval historian’s, seems to want to dispense altogether with the methods of modern scholarship. Professor Holt observes that Robin Hood has a unique distinction: his is the only entry in the Dictionary of National Biography devoted exclusively to proving that its subject never existed. But he has another ...

Skimming along

Ross McKibbin

20 October 1994
The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... is clear which at present is the more important to Mr Major. But this is not to deny the two meanings. When I watched him paying tribute to Billy Wright on an ITV programme, evoking (as, according to RichardHolt and Alan Tomlinson in their essay, he often does) the lost world of a handful of heroes – Wright himself, Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews – it was impossible, even allowing for a ...

Back to Runnymede

Ferdinand Mount: Magna Carta

22 April 2015
Magna Carta 
by David Carpenter.
Penguin, 594 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 241 95337 2
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Magna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge.
Hart, 222 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 1 84946 556 4
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Magna Carta 
by J.C. Holt.
Cambridge, 488 pp., £21.99, May 2015, 978 1 107 47157 3
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Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015 
by Nicholas Vincent.
Third Millennium, 192 pp., £44.95, January 2015, 978 1 908990 28 0
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Magna Carta: The Making and Legacy of the Great Charter 
by Dan Jones.
Head of Zeus, 192 pp., £14.99, December 2014, 978 1 78185 885 1
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... was indeed extracted by force. In any case, John himself had done much to modernise royal government, and people, high and low, were ready, even eager, to take advantage of the new royal courts. J.C. Holt, in his classic study of the Charter published at the time of the 750th anniversary and now reissued, is as pro-John as it is possible for a sane historian to be, and never misses an opportunity to ...
6 September 1984
A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Letters and Diaries 
by Barbara Pym, edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £12.95, July 1984, 0 333 34995 4
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... as with reading. It is perhaps partly in deference to this belief, and to help prevent Barbara Pym’s ‘image’ from being again lost to public view, that her friend and literary executor Hazel Holt, and her sister Hilary Pym, have put together from the writer’s journals and letters what they call an ‘Autobiography’, A Very Private Eye. Its very title suggests a joky apologetic gesture ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie

21 February 1985
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... and that this information is provided by a careful historian who has here produced both a work of reference and a stimulus to further research. The collection of essays edited by Gillingham and Holt is concerned with war and the state – and in particular with the machinery used by governments to pay for these enormously expensive wars. This is a valuable group of papers by pupils and ...
23 June 1994
Richard​ Hughes 
by Richard​ Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... mere fifty years of elusive but positive literary ‘Englishness’. Four possible candidates, varying in attainments, would be T.E. Lawrence, Robert Graves, Peter Fleming (perhaps both Flemings) and Richard Hughes. It makes no difference that Lawrence was half-Irish, the Flemings mostly Scottish, and Hughes partly Welsh. The presidential or father figure of the group would be John Buchan, another Scot ...
8 May 1997
... each body should respect the territory of the other, and since the 17th century Parliament and the courts have been remarkably successful in this. At the start of the 18th century, when Chief Justice Holt was hearing argument in the great constitutional case of Ashby v. White (which established the courts’ jurisdiction to see fair play in elections), the Speaker of the House appeared with his ...


Peter Wollen: Tank by Patrick Wright

16 November 2000
Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine 
by Patrick Wright.
Faber, 499 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 19259 9
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... of both the machine-gun and the howitzer as defensive weapons. Then, in July 1914, he received an interesting letter from an old Boer War acquaintance, a mining engineer who had recently acquired a Holt Caterpillar Tractor with surprising powers of travelling across country. As Swinton says, ‘this knowledge lay dormant in my mind until ten weeks after the War had broken out. When it did recur to ...

Don’t talk to pigeons

Ben Jackson: MI5 in WW1

22 January 2015
MI5 in the Great War 
edited by Nigel West.
Biteback, 434 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 84954 670 6
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... troubling Parliament, and pressure was put on the Liberal government to organise against German espionage and invasion plans. Yet the government wasn’t of one mind. The secretary of state for war, Richard Haldane, remained anxious to build better relations with Germany and at first didn’t hesitate to express his impatience with the scare: when asked by Sir John Barlow, MP for Frome, whether he was ...


David Trotter: Bearness

7 November 2019
... when Roosevelt, a ‘keen’ sportsman and conservationist, was hunting bears in Mississippi. Apparently, he lucked out. At the end of the day, his tracker, the African-American ex-Confederate scout Holt Collier, found one for him and tied it to a tree. Roosevelt declined to shoot the animal, on the grounds that to do so under such circumstances would be unchivalrous. On 16 November, the Washington ...

Let us breakfast in splendour

Charles Nicholl: Francis Barber

15 July 2015
The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir 
by Michael Bundock.
Yale, 282 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20710 1
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... that he was very well-looking, for a Black a moor.’ The fullest description of Frank is much later, some years after Johnson’s death, when a schoolmaster and part-time journalist called John Holt published a short interview with him in the July 1793 issue of the Gentleman’s Magazine. He described him thus: ‘Francis is … low of stature, marked with the small-pox; has lost his teeth ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries

28 July 2011
... sanctuary, with both of them fans of the naturalist R.M. Lockley. There were a few volumes of self-help in the house but the only non-library book of autobiography was I Haven’t Unpacked by William Holt, who had got away from the dark, satanic mills by buying a horse and riding through England. The Armley library was at the bottom of Wesley Road, the entrance up a flight of marble steps under open ...

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