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Honey and Water

Michael Irwin, 7 August 1980

The Beekeepers 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 156 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 7100 0473 7
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F for Ferg 
by Ian Cochrane.
Gollancz, 117 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 575 02862 9
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Events Beyond the Heartlands 
by Robert Watson.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 0 434 84200 1
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... be told the thoughts of a character who has hitherto been described only from the outside. Robert Watson seems to have been undecided as to whether to write a realistic, if lurid novel about the problems of family life, or a quasi-allegorical story about the condition-of-Wales question. His book lunges clumsily in different directions. But what ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford, 8 February 1996

The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... No anthology offers us the full spectrum of Scottish poetry, but Roderick Watson’s comes closer than any other. This is the first big, general anthology to offer us work in Gaelic, Scots and English (note the word order) from the medieval period to the present. Catherine Kerrigan’s Anthology of Scottish Women Poets (1991), Douglas Dunn’s Faber Book of 20th-century Scottish Poetry (1992), and Daniel O’Rourke’s Dream State; The New Scottish Poets (1994) all offer work in the three languages, but, as their titles indicate, select from specific sectors of Scottish poetry ...

A Potent Joy

E.S. Turner, 4 July 1985

Hitler’s Rockets: The Story of the V-2s 
by Norman Longmate.
Hutchinson, 423 pp., £13.95, May 1985, 0 09 158820 0
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... of kills at only 3 to 10 per cent of targets engaged. Other experts were more pessimistic; Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the radar authority, rated the chances of interception at a thousand to one. Nevertheless, according to Long-mate, operational trials were conducted and began to look promising. By that time, fortunately, the launching-sites had been ...

Rosy Revised

Robert Olby: Rosalind Franklin, 20 March 2003

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA 
by Brenda Maddox.
HarperCollins, 380 pp., £20, June 2002, 0 00 257149 8
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... the limelight from physicists and astronomers. Best known among them are the Nobel laureates James Watson and Francis Crick; less well known is Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958 aged 37. Today many believe that, had she lived, she, too, would have won a Nobel Prize for her pivotal contribution to the work on DNA and subsequently on the structure of ...

‘Derek, please, not so fast’

Ferdinand Mount: Derek Jackson, 7 February 2008

As I Was Going to St Ives: A Life of Derek Jackson 
by Simon Courtauld.
Michael Russell, 192 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 85955 311 7
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... reported that passing aircraft could interfere with radio reception. Less than a year later, Robert Watson-Watt demonstrated by a simple experiment in a field outside Daventry that aircraft could be detected by radio. Radar was born. Remarkably, it was only two years after this that Lindemann demonstrated to Churchill that tinfoil strips cut to a ...

Great Tradition

Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980

Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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Photo-Finish 
by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... of the latest Flaxborough murder. It’s a piece of miscalculated self-consciousness on Colin Watson’s part – almost the only miscalculation in the book. The Flaxborough Chronicles embody a great many of the virtues that make the golden-age detective story still one of the most widely read literary forms. They have their share of cosiness, with menace ...

Shopping for Soap, Fudge and Biscuit Tins

John Pemble: Literary Tourists, 7 June 2007

The Literary Tourist 
by Nicola J. Watson.
Palgrave, 244 pp., £45, October 2006, 1 4039 9992 9
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... in the travel writer, who expounds the eucharistic mystery of place. Too easy, perhaps? Nicola Watson has moved the discussion on. In The Literary Tourist: Readers and Places in Romantic and Victorian Britain, she argues that literary tourism is historically and geographically specific. It’s peculiar to the long 19th century and to the territory ...

Only Sleeping

Anne Barton: Variations on Elizabeth I, 10 July 2003

England’s Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy 
by Michael Dobson and Nicola J. Watson.
Oxford, 348 pp., £19.99, November 2002, 0 19 818377 1
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... the way she continues four hundred years after her death to conduct, as Michael Dobson and Nicola Watson put it in this engaging book, ‘a posthumous progress through the collective psyche of her country’. Historians, beginning with John Foxe and William Camden in her own time, and extending across the centuries to Patrick Collinson and David Starkey in ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... In the opening chapter of A Study in Scarlet Dr Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes says, ‘How are you?’ and adds: ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ Watson asks in astonishment: ‘How on earth did you know that?’ and Holmes, ‘chuckling to himself’, answers: ‘Never mind ...

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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... sure whether he should be making high claims for them or confessing to a guilty fondness. J.R. Watson’s The English Hymn is a far more ambitious book, charting the history of the English hymn from its origins in the metrical psalmody of Sternhold and Hopkins in the 16th century through almost to the present day. It is a work of ...

Rolling Back the Reformation

Eamon Duffy: Bloody Mary’s Church, 7 February 2008

... to discover the Counter-Reformation is a very old one, first advanced by the Elizabethan Jesuit Robert Parsons. In a lengthy memorandum he composed in the 1590s, sketching out a reform agenda should Elizabeth be succeeded by a Catholic, Parsons suggested that Mary’s attempt to reimpose Catholicism had failed because it was ‘huddled’ and ‘shuffled up ...

Vermin Correspondence

Iain Sinclair, 20 October 1994

Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... to Lunch is himself the classic double agent, the turned man. He has a public persona as ‘Ben Watson’ (apologist for his nocturnal self, the crazed poet), columnist for the Wire, broadcaster, and author of the monumental and magnificent folly, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Watson, if he ...

A Strange Blight

Meehan Crist: Rachel Carson’s Forebodings, 6 June 2019

‘Silent Spring’ and Other Writings on the Environment 
by Rachel Carson, edited by Sandra Steingraber.
Library of America, 546 pp., £29.99, March 2018, 978 1 59853 560 0
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... in the atmosphere. In a prepared statement, the British chemist and former IPCC chairman Robert Watson, who served as the UN panel’s chairman, put it bluntly. ‘Let’s be quite candid,’ he said, ‘we’re not on the pathway to 2ºC. We’re on a pathway to 3, 3.5ºC.’ But maybe humans won’t be around to see the effects of the changes ...

Put it in your suitcase

Nicholas Penny: Sotheby’s, 18 March 1999

Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class 
by Robert Lacey.
Little, Brown, 354 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 316 64447 1
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Sotheby’s: Inside Story 
by Peter Watson.
Bloomsbury, 325 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 7475 3808 5
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... privately. I thought this was common knowledge but in Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class Robert Lacey assures us that there had never been a ‘tradition of selling ... classic, museum-quality masterpieces at auction – at Christie’s or anywhere else’ before the end of the First World War, when Sotheby’s and Christie’s became ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy, 14 December 2006

Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... Padua was not an independent city-state. The English College at Douai did not train Jesuits, and Robert Parsons, who was not a doctor, had nothing to do with founding it. Giordano Bruno was not born at Nova. Thomas Norton was not assistant torturer to Richard Topcliffe, but the other way round. There was no British army in 1586. Not all of this is ...

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