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Half a pirate

Patrick O’Brian, 22 January 1987

Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates 
by Robert Ritchie.
Harvard, 306 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 674 09501 4
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Richard Knight’s Treasure! The True Story of his Extraordinary Quest for Captain Kidd’s Cache 
by Glenys Roberts.
Viking, 198 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 670 80761 3
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... of the present book as though he took part in this war on the virtuous side. Yet such is the case. Robert Kidd appeared on the recorded scene in 1689 at the age of about 44, as one of the crew of a buccaneering ship in the West Indies. Buccaneering and piracy were often much the same thing. Piracy had not yet acquired anything like the full odium of later ...

Written out of Revenge

Rosemary Hill: Bowen in Love, 9 April 2009

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie Letters and Diaries 1941-73 
edited by Victoria Glendinning, by Judith Robertson.
Simon and Schuster, 489 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 213 0
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People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen 
edited by Allan Hepburn.
Edinburgh, 467 pp., £60, November 2008, 978 0 7486 3568 9
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... business and the story that unfolds in the letters and diaries of Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, the Canadian diplomat with whom she was in love for more than thirty years, is not a happy one. This was not so much what the publishers are pleased to call on the dust jacket ‘the love affair of a lifetime’, more like a fight to the death. Not that ...

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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... In May 1804, at the age of 18, Benjamin Robert Haydon left his home in Plymouth and set off for London to become a great artist. His mother was distraught, his father furious, but there was no doubt in Haydon’s mind either of his vocation or of his genius. He could have worked in his father’s bookshop and inherited a secure, independent income but he didn’t want to ...

Cityscape with Figures

Julian Symons, 21 August 1980

The Great Fortune, The Spoilt City, Friends and Heroes 
by Olivia Manning.
Penguin, 287 pp., £1.25, March 1980, 0 14 003543 5
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... no British novels that, like Catch 22, approach war as lunacy made real, or implicitly ask, like Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, why running dope is worse than killing unarmed Vietnamese. Such a mixture of the macabre and the grotesque with a touch of anarchy is not a British vein. There are extraordinary figures in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour ...

How one has enjoyed things

Dinah Birch: Thackeray’s daughter, 2 December 2004

Anny: A Life of Anne Thackeray Ritchie 
by Henrietta Garnett.
Chatto, 322 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 7011 7129 4
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... But her circle of friends and acquaintances continued to expand: Millais, Elizabeth Gaskell, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Monckton Milnes, Ruskin, Katie Collins, Arthur Munby, George Eliot, the Carlyles, Henry Cole. Some of these, like the Carlyles, were handed down from the old days, sanctified with the reflected glamour of the past. Anny was fond of ...

Diary

Fintan O’Toole: The Case of Darren Graham, 6 September 2007

... or sitting in their own kitchens or living-rooms. Many, like David McQuillan, Winston McCaughey, Ritchie Latimer, Albert Beacom, Robert Bennett, Thomas Loughran and James McFall were with their children when they were attacked. William Gordon’s 10-year-old-daughter, Lesley, and seven-year-old son, Richard, were beside ...

My Faults, My Follies

Helen Deutsch: Laetitia Pilkington, ‘Foot-ball of Fortune’, 17 July 2008

Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington 
by Norma Clarke.
Faber, 364 pp., £20, February 2008, 978 0 571 22428 9
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... cheating husband and 12 bought witnesses alone at midnight in her bedroom with the young surgeon Robert Adair, she was subsequently convicted of adultery. Matthew got the divorce he had long desired and done his best to enable by, as Clarke puts it, ‘tormenting her at home and blackening her name out of it’. Swift tried to erase her name from all his ...

Memories We Get to Keep

James Meek: James Salter’s Apotheosis, 20 June 2013

All That Is 
by James Salter.
Picador, 290 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3824 9
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Collected Stories 
by James Salter.
Picador, 303 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4472 3938 3
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... Salter had seen a script realised in film, the skiing drama Downhill Racer, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Robert Redford. Solo Faces is the story of a rock-climbing drifter and his friend and rival and their pursuit of glory through heroic feats on the mountain. In the earlier A Sport and a Pastime, the ...

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