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Suck, chéri

E.S. Turner: The history of sweets, 29 October 1998

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: A Prehistory of Sweets 
by Laura Mason.
Prospect, 250 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 907325 83 1
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... cinemas, where mega-ice-lollies and straggly Yellow Bellies are sold in a state of nature. Henry Mayhew, frequently cited in this book, told how a street vendor of sweets wrapped his wares in pages torn from old books and a heap of Acts of Parliament. The old damerun sweet shop usually supplied sweets in a conical paper poke not unlike the one from which a ...

Successive Applications of Sticking-Plaster

Andrew Saint: The urban history of Britain, 1 November 2001

The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Vol. III: 1840-1950 
edited by Martin Daunton.
Cambridge, 944 pp., £90, January 2001, 0 521 41707 4
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... patronising voluntary bodies. Now scholars are less sure. As regards transport and the utilities, Robert Millward points out that councils tended to buy out only enterprises which were in consistent profit, such as gas companies. Councillors’ motives were often not so much to provide an economic or efficient service overall as to relieve the rates ...

With a Titter of Wit

Colin Kidd: Wholly Ulsterised, 6 May 2021

Deniable Contact: Back-Channel Negotiation in Northern Ireland 
by Niall Ó Dochartaigh.
Oxford, 306 pp., £75, March, 978 0 19 289476 2
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... to regain control of barricaded republican areas. Much to the chagrin of the British commander, Robert Ford, the IRA was thus enabled to fight another day – and a bloodbath was avoided. During the early years of the conflict the main tendency of this contact switched from operational discussions to high-level engagement aimed at a settlement.The first ...

Uncle Wiz

Stefan Collini: Auden, 16 July 2015

Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V: 1963-68 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 561 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI: 1969-73 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 790 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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... he economised on effort, and maximised his income, by quoting copiously: in a piece on Henry Mayhew, one quotation fills almost two pages of this edition. He would, I suspect, have loved the word-count facility of computers. Writing prose could also be seen as one response to the situation he identified in speaking of Tennyson, that of the lyric poet ...

A Bloody Stupid Idea

James Butler: Landlord’s Paradise, 6 May 2021

Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London 
by Owen Hatherley.
Repeater, 264 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 913462 20 8
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... chancellor of the ruling party (and now by the sister-in-law of a former prime minister).Henry​ Mayhew, the mid-Victorian journalist who produced the extraordinary, enormous survey London Labour and the London Poor, wrote best about the city when he could see it from a height. Gazing across London from Hampstead he described a gothic city, skeins of ...

Sexual Tories

Angus Calder, 17 May 1984

The Common People: A History from the Norman Conquest to the Present 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Croom Helm and Flamingo, 445 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7099 0125 9
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British Society 1914-45 
by John Stevenson.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 503 pp., £16.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1390 8
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The World We Left Behind: A Chronicle of the Year 1939 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £11.95, April 1984, 0 297 78287 8
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Wigan Pier Revisited: Poverty and Politics in the Eighties 
by Beatrix Campbell.
Virago, 272 pp., £4.50, April 1984, 0 86068 417 2
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... commonly posed or faked, to its over-simplistic headlines and its unintentional absurdities. Robert Kee’s The World We Left Behind shows that one can make up an interesting and agreeable book almost solely from this source. It isn’t ‘social history’, since, as it moves from 1 January 1939 to 31 December, it is largely concerned with ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... was no suggestion that Mr McGregor was involved in the decision. Other former ministers such as Robert Jackson, Tim Yeo and Robert Key have obtained jobs since leaving the government. Earlier this year, the current Conservative Party Deputy Chairman and MP, Dame Angela Rumbold, was forced vigorously to defend her £12,000 ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... Another drawing was done with a nurse’s blue pencil on the flyleaf of a volume of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.‘These drawings were presented to me by a very ill man,’ the catalogue entry read, quoting Edward Adamson, the art therapist who first encountered J.J. Beegan in 1946. By the time they met, Adamson explained, Beegan ‘had been in a ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... back to them in their own voices, thereby learning to soothe and to control.) Ackroyd loves his Mayhew catalogues, the peristalsis of the mob: ‘riots by sailors, silk-weavers, coal-heavers, hatters, glass-grinders’. Paragraphs rush breathlessly along like video presentation commentaries in the London Dungeon or the Globe Theatre. History whispering ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland, 30 July 1998

... politics we got the PUP and the UDP. They have been joined by the barrister-turned-politician, Robert McCartney who, along with Conor Cruise O’Brien, founded the UKUP (that rogue ‘K’ is for ‘Kingdom’), to oppose further UUP sell-outs and the mayhem of a united Ireland. In last month’s Assembly elections there were also candidates who variously ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... When the Cabinet was feuding over Westland, the Sun naturally backed her, and so when Patrick Mayhew, the Solicitor-General, told Michael Heseltine that his account of the rival bids might contain ‘material inaccuracies’, this confidential legal advice was immediately leaked to the Sun, whose sensitive and nuanced front-page account of the discussion ...

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