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Wizard of Ox

Paul Addison, 8 November 1990

... Many tributes have been paid to Alan Taylor, including some by old and close friends who knew him very much better than I did. My excuse for adding one more piece is that I would like to explain something of what he meant to younger historians who came within his orbit. Perhaps I shall end up speaking only for myself, but at any rate I can speak from experience as one of his pupils ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on ...

Did You Have Bombs?

Deborah Friedell: ‘The Other Elizabeth Taylor’, 6 August 2009

The Other Elizabeth Taylor 
by Nicola Beauman.
Persephone, 444 pp., £15, April 2009, 978 1 906462 10 9
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... Do novelists come nicer than Elizabeth Taylor? Her mother died of politeness – she developed appendicitis over Christmas, and didn’t want to interrupt the doctor’s holiday – but rather than renounce good manners on the spot, her biographer Nicola Beauman writes, Taylor ‘cared about good manners very much indeed’ to the end of her days ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... was discovered in 1819, when Edward Drury, a young Stamford bookseller, wrote to his cousin John Taylor, who was also a bookseller – what we would now call a publisher – and told him that he had discovered a wholly untutored genius: Your hopes of good grammar and correct verse, depend on the inspiration of the mind; for Clare cannot reason; he writes ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Books are getting too long, 1 December 1983

... a sort of glorified guide to the exhibition by Hermione Hobhouse, and a first-class biography by Robert Rhodes James.* Albert took a long time to receive his deserts. Indeed I doubt whether he was fully appreciated during his lifetime. He was a foreigner. He disliked the rigmarole of court life and he was altogether too clever. The Great Exhibition of ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: The End of Solitary Existence, 17 March 1983

... By a happy chance, the occasion marks also the completion of the publication of Pepys’s Diary by Robert Latham. Strictly speaking, publication of the actual Diary was completed with Volume 9 in 1976. What now crowns the work is Volume 10, the Companion, composed of miscellaneous though relevant essays, and Volume 11, the Index.* In my opinion, Pepys’s ...

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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... Shakespear, Low had nine children, of whom seven survived. The two eldest boys, Malcolm and Robert, enjoyed Indian careers of their own, and his eldest daughter, Charlotte, married the son of Sir Thomas Metcalfe, the British resident at Delhi. Mount has always been intrigued by cliques, elites and who knows who. The Shakespears were connected to the ...

Raining

Donald Davie, 5 May 1983

Later Poems 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 333 34560 6
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Thomas Hardy Annual, No 1 
edited by Norman Page.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 333 32022 0
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Tess of the d’Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell.
Oxford, 636 pp., £50, March 1983, 0 19 812495 3
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Hardy’s Love Poems 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Carl Weber.
Macmillan, 253 pp., £3.95, February 1983, 0 333 34798 6
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. I: Wessex Poems, Poems of the Past and the Present, Time’s Laughingstocks 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 403 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 19 812708 1
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... difficult terrains in any case) than there appeared in 1978 The Older Hardy, the second volume of Robert Gittings’s biography, which had the effect of vindicating, exhaustively and unforgivingly, Edward Clodd’s epitaph. Ever since, the Trade Union has been on the defensive. The first move was to prefer to Gittings’s biography a later one by Michael ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’, 19 December 2019

Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... Rather​ D.J. Taylor than me, when it comes to untangling the unbelievably complicated and messy love lives of the so-called Horizon circle: the people who clustered adoringly around Cyril Connolly during his years as editor of the short-lived literary magazine (1939-50). Was Connolly still carrying on his affair with Diana Witherby when he started his affair with Lys (while still married to Jean and while Lys was still married to Ian)? Was Barbara Skelton having an affair with the Polish war artist Feliks Topolski when Peter Quennell came onto the scene, still married to his third wife, Glur, but making Topolski so jealous that the men resorted to fisticuffs over Barbara? What made Janetta, still married to Hugh Slater, fall in love with Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, and would that relationship last?Taylor wades deep into the cigaretty fug of that small literary circle awash with till-boredom-do-us-part love affairs conducted in rented accommodation ...

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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... which I had mistakenly supposed to be in honour of a thoroughgoing Tory figure. The first is by Robert Blake, himself an almost official Tory historian. Once more, ‘the missing telegrams’ concerning Chamberlain’s pre-knowledge of the Jameson Raid are displayed and the answer is decisive: Chamberlain knew and persistently deceived the House of ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... D.J. Taylor​ is the most charitable of critics. However absurd, third-rate or pretentious the authors he examines, he can always find something to say in their favour. In this latest study, he even puts in a good word for the preposterous Sitwell family, having first given them a roasting for their insufferable self-importance, on the grounds that Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell were at least serious about literature ...

From Script to Scream

Richard Mayne, 18 December 1980

Caligari’s Children 
by S.S. Prawer.
Oxford, 307 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 9780192175847
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The Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese, Altman 
by Robert Phillip Kolker.
Oxford, 395 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 19 502588 1
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... S. S. Prawer is Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature at Oxford. Robert Phillip Kolker is Associate Professor of Film Studies (in the Department of Communication Arts and Theatre) at the University of Maryland, College Park. But don’t let the insignia fool you. Both gentlemen, I suspect, are movie fans at heart ...

Diary

Adewale Maja-Pearce: In Monrovia, 6 February 2020

... head towards the sea and feet towards the mansion. One month after I left, rebels under Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) invaded from neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire and rapidly occupied 90 per cent of the country. Less than a year later, Doe himself met a gruesome end and Prince Johnson achieved a fabulous notoriety.Johnson, a ...

Taylorism

Norman Stone, 22 January 1981

Politicians, Socialism and Historians 
by A.J.P. Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 241 10486 6
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A.J.P. TaylorA Complete Annotated Bibliography 
by Chris Wrigley.
Harvester, 607 pp., £35, August 1980, 0 85527 981 8
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... with culture, I reach for my revolver when offered philosophies of history,’ wrote A.J.P. Taylor some years ago, when the ‘What is History’ theme was going the rounds. He likes to parade himself as a simple, practical man – ‘an old-fashioned, penny-counting historian’. He thinks that history’s only function is ‘fun’, dismisses the rest ...

London Review of Crooks

Robert Marshall-Andrews, 15 July 1982

Rough Justice: The Extraordinary Truth about Charles Richardson and his Gang 
by Robert Parker.
Fontana, 352 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 00 636354 7
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Web of Corruption: The Story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith 
by Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor.
Granada, 282 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 246 10915 7
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Inside Boss: South Africa’s Secret Police 
by Gordon Winter.
Penguin, 640 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780140057515
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Crime in Wartime: A Social History of Crime in World War II 
by Edward Smithies.
Allen and Unwin, 219 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 04 364020 6
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... Corruption, which tells the story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith. Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor took eight years to research and write their analysis of the most far-reaching corruption trial of this century. The opening summary is startling. Of those prosecuted in connection with Poulson 21 were convicted on corruption charges. There were nine ...

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