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Tribute to Trevor-Roper

A.J.P. Taylor, 5 November 1981

History and Imagination: Essays in honour of H.R. Trevor-Roper 
edited by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Valerie Pearl and Blair Worden.
Duckworth, 386 pp., £25, October 1981, 9780715615706
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... Worden shows how the republicans of the Long Parliament ransacked the classics for their examples. Richard Cobb catalogues the fantasy figures which adorned the Jacobin imagination. Biographical essays predominate in more recent times – mostly Whig, I am glad to say. I cannot decide which was the more influential and which was the more neglected – Lord ...

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone, 30 July 2020

... walk. His look of quizzical apprehension changed to an amiable apology when I explained I was the Richard Shone to whom he had sent a note a few days earlier asking me to ‘drop in’. ‘Yes, of course you are,’ he said. The note had been prompted by Nancy Ackerley, a friend of mine and the sister of Forster’s great friend J.R. Ackerley, who had written ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 15 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... In​ 1619, for a bet, John Taylor – prolific poet, proud Londoner, waterman, prankster, anti-pollution campaigner, barman, literary celebrity, palindrome enthusiast (‘Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel’) – sailed forty miles down the Thames to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in a boat made from brown paper ...

Bring back the 19th century

Miles Taylor, 22 June 2000

British Society 1680-1880: Dynamism, Containment and Change 
by Richard Price.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £40, October 1999, 0 521 65172 7
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... for a split at 1815 and an end in the 1880s. So in choosing to conclude his new survey at 1880, Richard Price joins a long tradition of irreverent timekeeping. Except that, according to Price, it is not the 19th century that ends in the 1880s, but the ‘long’ 18th century. In recent years the lifetime of the distinctive political regime and social ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... John Taylor, the journalist, newspaper editor and poet, was born in 1757. His grandfather, the legendary ‘Chevalier’ Taylor, had been oculist to George II, and afterwards, so his grandson assures us, to ‘every crowned head in Europe’. He was as famous for his womanising as for his knowledge of ophthalmology, but most famous, perhaps, for his habit of prefacing every operation he performed with a long speech in praise of his own skill, composed in what he claimed was ‘the true Ciceronian’, with each main verb cunningly held back to the end of the sentence ...

Old Dad dead?

Michael Neill: Thomas Middleton, 4 December 2008

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 2016 pp., £85, November 2007, 978 0 19 818569 7
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Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 1183 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 818570 3
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... be learned from the appearance of the new Oxford Middleton. Even as the blurb declares that Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino’s monumental collection is ‘based on the award-winning design of the Oxford Shakespeare’, the binding and dust jacket defiantly proclaim its difference from that distinguished model. The Shakespeare was bound in the press’s ...

Perfect Light

Jenny Diski, 9 July 1992

Diana: Her True Story 
by Andrew Morton.
Michael O’Mara, 165 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85479 191 5
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 7475 1164 0
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Antonia White: Diaries 1958-1979 
edited by Susan Chitty.
Constable, 352 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 09 470660 3
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... each other, and I recognised the not-quite-extraterrestrial, dumpy, middle-aged forms of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton panting their way up the hill. The glow was not, of course, from their outward perfection, nor their inner beauty and wisdom, but the result of years and years of attention from precision-ground lenses ...

Imperial Project

Richard Drayton, 19 September 1996

Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens 
by Ray Desmond.
Harvill/Royal Botanical Gardens, 466 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 86046 076 3
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... within which many political persuasions – from Clarendon, Hume and Macaulay to A.J.P. Taylor and E. P. Thompson – have helped an emerging nation make sense of itself. There are now good reasons, as Linda Colley and Chris Bayly have suggested, to bring the Empire to the centre of domestic history and to show how a wider world changed our ...

Audrey and Her Sisters

Wayne Koestenbaum, 18 September 1997

Audrey Hepburn 
by Barry Paris.
Weidenfeld, 454 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 297 81728 0
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... Colette, Edith Head, Deborah Kerr, Leslie Caron, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Marni Nixon, Julie Andrews, Mia Farrow, Jeanne Moreau, Merle Oberon, Capucine and Cher. I could advance a lesbian interpretation of Audrey Hepburn’s oeuvre, though that is not my present aim: instead, I wish to inquire into reverberations between ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... It is not easy to determine which is the better book. Richard Burton was printed by Butler and Tanner Limited, Peter Sellers by the Fakenham Press, and since the one establishment is in Somerset and the other in Norfolk, it is fair to absolve both of them from the sort of catchpenny opportunist hustling which these days has the publishing world of London by the throat ...

Motherblame

Anna Vaux: Motherhood, 21 May 1998

Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in 20th-Century America 
edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky.
New York, 416 pp., £16, April 1998, 0 8147 5119 9
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Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood 
by Melissa Benn.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 0 224 03821 4
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... likely that you and your mother will agree on this. Fashions in mothering change, as Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky point out. Even within a given era, the experts do not agree – about breastfeeding, about solids, about sleeping habits. Americans are divided on whether mothers should stay at home with their children and on whether a good parent would ...
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... and displace. His real hero was CIA director Casey, who suffered from what his predecessor Richard Helms called Fingerspitzengefühl – ‘a feel for the clandestine’. North reports: ‘I knew nothing of covert operations when I came to the National Security Council but Casey taught me a great deal.’ From 1983 onwards (whatever their part in the ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... their carrot and stick ways by the Wellesley brothers (Arthur, the future duke of Wellington, and Richard). They took Low under their wing. His career as company handyman had begun. Men like Low were crucial to company rule in India. When he arrived in Jaipur in 1825 on his first big posting, the company’s resources were at full stretch. Two ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell, 19 June 2003

George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... judicious (though not hopelessly balanced) accounts, the new biographies by Gordon Bowker and D.J. Taylor confirm what the law of averages might have led one to suspect: some of this is true, some of it questionable and the rest of it false. (Scott Lucas, by contrast, thinks almost all of it true.) Orwell was indeed unsociable, anti-feminist and ...
... barefoot or otherwise. I then went to see K. B. McFarlane. My special subject in Schools was Richard II so I had been to McFarlane’s lectures on the Lollard Knights; I also had a copy of some notes on his 1953 Ford Lectures that was passed down from year to year in Exeter. I knew of his austere reputation and of his reluctance to publish from David ...

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