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Protocols of Sèvres

Keith Kyle, 21 January 1988

The Failure of the Eden Government 
by Richard Lamb.
Sidgwick, 340 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 283 99534 3
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... affairs; it was a massive misjudgment in his own area of expertise that brought him down. Although Richard Lamb says that ‘Eden’s premiership foundered solely because of the Suez affair’ (which begs the question, much discussed at the time in the press, of whether it would not otherwise have soon foundered on something else), his book deals with the ...
Prince Charming: A Memoir 
by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 340 pp., £20, September 1999, 9780571197682
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... Instead, I organised a lunch at which three speakers would talk about war in literature. I invited Richard Lamb, an expert on the Second World War, to talk about Churchill’s war blunders, on which he’d written a book; and Martin Gilbert to speak about the fate of the Jews during the same period. No one would be able to accuse us of having a frivolous ...

O cruel!

Michael Mason, 16 June 1983

Far Away and Long Ago 
by W.H. Hudson.
Eland, 332 pp., £3.95, October 1982, 0 907871 25 9
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W.H. Hudson: A Biography 
by Ruth Tomalin.
Faber, 314 pp., £13.50, November 1982, 0 571 10599 8
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... land lost by England is Uruguay, given up by her in favour of the Falklands. The novel’s hero, Richard Lamb, at first much regrets the exchange of this ‘green world’ for ‘the desolate haunt of seals and penguins’. After he has roamed its fastnesses and met its half-wild inhabitants his views are different. To introduce the material prosperity ...

Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of 18th-Century Science 
edited by G.S. Rousseau and R.S. Porter.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £25, November 1980, 9780521225991
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Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin 
by Thomas McFarland.
Princeton, 432 pp., £24.60, February 1981, 0 691 06437 7
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Poetry realised in Nature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early 19th-Century Science 
by Trevor Levere.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £22.50, October 1981, 0 521 23920 6
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by Richard Holmes.
Oxford, 102 pp., £1.25, March 1982, 0 19 287591 4
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Young Charles Lamb 1775-1802 
by Winifred Courtney.
Macmillan, 411 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 333 31534 0
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... to insist on his greatness? Because Coleridge isn’t in this book, in the way that he isin Richard Holmes’s recent, sensitive profile in the Oxford ‘Past Masters’ series. Does a study like Levere’s miss some point, or is one merely making an obvious remark about the difference between ‘biography’ and ‘intellectual history’? Authors and ...

Bigger Peaches

Rosemary Hill: Haydon, 22 February 2001

The Immortal Dinner: A Famous Evening of Genius and Laughter in Literary London, 1817 
by Penelope Hughes-Hallett.
Viking, 336 pp., £15.99, September 2000, 0 670 87999 1
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... was a world where high thinking went with ramshackle living. Haydon’s friends, Charles and Mary Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt and the young Keats were all, like him, mostly self-educated and chronically short of money. Haydon had also come to know Wordsworth, who was in London in December 1817. On the 28th Haydon invited him to dinner to meet Keats. Charles ...


Ruth Bernard Yeazell: A.S. Byatt, 28 November 2002

A Whistling Woman 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 422 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 7011 7380 7
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... hosts is called Through the Looking-Glass, and its pilot episode features Jonathan Miller and Richard Gregory talking animatedly about mirrors and doubles, both of which figure prominently in A Whistling Woman’s own symbolic repertoire. (As she did in Babel Tower, where she brought on Anthony Burgess as a witness for the defence in her fictional ...

A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David Mitchell, 4 December 2014

The Bone Clocks 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... open and their pupils erased. In the second section, set in 1991, a cad and a bounder called Hugo Lamb – Mitchell likes writing about cads – shags and cheats his way through his Cambridge days, before encountering first Holly Sykes and then a shadowy group of immortals. In the third, set in 2004, a war reporter – the father of Holly’s child ...


Richard Altick, 29 October 1987

George Scharf’s London: Sketches and Watercolours of a Changing City, 1820-50 
by Peter Jackson.
Murray, 154 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 7195 4379 7
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... making it the unchallenged capital of the world. Involved, because, like Dr Johnson and Charles Lamb, Scharf was a tireless London perambulator who desired no more from life (apart from a decent income) than to savour and capture the variety and energy of city living. Scharf (1788-1860) was an itinerant Bavarian artist whom the fortunes of war eventually ...

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes, 16 October 1980

The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics 
by P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 312 pp., £16.50, June 1980, 0 19 812095 8
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Shelley and his World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 9780500130681
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... Palmer, Goya, a miniature of the bewitching Cornelia Boinville (disturbingly like Lady Caroline Lamb), a sketch-plan by Edward Williams of the interior of the Don Juan boat, showing folding tables, lockers, and ‘Shilo’s library’ skilfully fitted round the bulkhead. Ah, dreams of ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... He discriminates between both periods and authors, drawing out the ‘passion for Heaven’ in Richard Baxter, the ‘clarity and assurance’ characteristic of Watts, Addison’s gentlemanliness, Charles Wesley’s ‘physicality’, Montgomery as ‘the greatest hymn-writer on the difficult subject of prayer’, the whisper and privacy in Keble’s ...

We Do Ron Ron Ron, We Do Ron Ron

James Meek: Welcome to McDonald’s, 24 May 2001

Fast-Food Nation 
by Eric Schlosser.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7139 9602 1
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... unskilled role with as much speed and efficiency as they could muster. The Front was, as Richard Rhodes put it in The Making of the Atom Bomb, an industrial operation for the manufacture of corpses. Disney and Kroc were great admirers of Ford (as was Lenin) and saw assembly lines as the embodiment of efficiency, order and consistency. These lines ...


Julian Barnes, 2 May 1985

A Classical Education 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 7011 2936 0
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Still Life: Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood 
by Richard Cobb.
Chatto, 161 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 7012 1920 3
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... that he doesn’t want to read any more books that don’t begin: ‘A shot rang out.’ Richard Cobb’s second volume of autobiography, nominally about Shrewsbury and Oxford, opens with a man getting off the boat train at the Gare Saint-Lazare wielding (well, almost wielding) a blood-stained axe. The killer, an old schoolfriend of Cobb’s called ...

At the Saatchi Gallery

Peter Campbell: London’s new art gallery, 8 May 2003

... having your attention, and is then often vague or crass about what to do with it. Only one piece, Richard Wilson’s 20:50, a room-sized tank of sump oil, borrows much force from the building. It is even more effective here, reflecting wood panelling, windows and the sky beyond, than it was in the collection’s former gallery in St John’s Wood, where it ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester, 5 July 2001

... for confidences about money. My mother used his mollycoddling of me – whom he called his ‘pet lamb’ – as her excuse for favouring my sister, saying that my father had so totally appropriated me, their first-born, with his adoration that, when they had a second child, she had no alternative to loving her more than he did and more than she did me. She ...


Alan Bennett: Selling my hair on eBay, 6 January 2022

... Yorkshire. I’ve lost count of the number of times on TV I’ve seen the sequence whereby a dead lamb is skinned and the skin fitted onto an orphaned lamb which is then foisted on a bereaved sheep which is deceived into adopting it as its own. Surely, I think (in a Mendelian misapprehension), sheep will have cottoned on to ...

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