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Menswear

Philip Booth

20 July 1995
Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts 
by Roger Baker.
Cassell, 284 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 304 32836 7
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... Nowadays it’s possible to make a career exclusively within gay journalism. RogerBaker, however, was a journalist of wide-ranging interests whose careful think-pieces were a strong feature of Gay News in the mid-Seventies, but who was just as comfortable writing for the Times. His ...

Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley

20 January 2011
The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... of the 20th century, a fixture on the bestseller list for 40 years. A figure of 50 million copies sold in his lifetime is widely accepted, though the basis for it is elusive – the only source Phil Baker cites in his exhaustive biography is Wheatley’s own memoirs, and Wheatley was a relentless self-aggrandiser; but it sounds about right. In the mid-1960s, three decades into his career, he had 55 ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks

22 November 1990
Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... whom it is de rigueur to invoke at any intellectual or cultural occasion in present-day Britain duly puts in a guest-appearance: Mrs Thatcher. The Ironised Maiden is in evidence, too, in Kenneth Baker’s anthology of verse parodies, Unauthorised Versions. But then Mr Baker is a Conservative politician, mainstream, main chance. Politically these are authorised versions. One of the entries, by ...

Hegel in Green Wellies

Stefan Collini: England

8 March 2001
England: An Elegy 
by Roger​ Scruton.
Chatto, 270 pp., £16.99, October 2000, 1 85619 251 2
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The Faber Book of Landscape Poetry 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 426 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 20071 0
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... genteel aspirations. The support of his mother enabled Jack to win a scholarship to Manchester High School and eventually to qualify as a teacher, later moving to leafy Buckinghamshire, where young Roger grew up. But Jack Scruton nursed a vivid sense of the grievances of his class. He was not just Old Labour, he was Paleo-Labour: the country was in the grip of a ruling class whose comfortable way of ...

Teacher

John Passmore

4 September 1986
Australian Realism: The Systematic Philosophy of John Anderson 
by A.J. Baker.
Cambridge, 150 pp., £20, April 1986, 0 521 32051 8
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... Opposite the title-page of Mr Baker’s skeletonised but substantially accurate account of John Anderson’s philosophy there stand two epigraphs. They are both from Heraclitus or, more precisely, from Burnet’s translation of that ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane

23 September 2015
Landmarks 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... are a very personal kind of literary criticism of books by writers such as Peter Davidson (The Idea of North), Nan Shepherd (The Living Mountain), Richard Jefferies (Nature near London), J.A. Baker (The Peregrine), Jacquetta Hawkes (A Land) and Roger Deakin (Waterlog). It’s interesting that all these were connoisseurs of nature rather than workers with it or in it. Macfarlane’s accounts of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Darwinians & Creationists

1 November 2001
... nature.’ The intelligent designers (or should that be designees?) are cunning enough not to make claims about who exactly is sitting at the drawing-board. But they do have a martyr in the shape of Roger DeHart, a high school biology teacher in Burlington, Washington, who in the spring was banned from teaching the theory. Evolution is a more satisfying explanation of life than intelligent design ...

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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... clayey soil. It may be no more than a nuance of speech. And here again – rather surprisingly – Christie is supreme. Thus in what I take to be the most famous of detective novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Ackroyd’s secretary hears his employer’s voice coming from his study: ‘the calls on my purse have been so frequent of late that I fear it is impossible for me to accede to your request ...
10 November 1994
Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger​ Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... her transport business in 1846 – when she began to haul wool and other goods across the Pennines to Manchester on packhorses – pulsed through the veins of her great-grandsons,’ Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe write without a trace of irony. One of these was Robert Hanson, the great James’s father, through whose veins the entrepreneurial spirit pulsed so fiercely that he stored other people’s ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes

26 January 2012
The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?’ snapped Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker in 1945. He refused to find out who did, because he’d already discovered that Agatha Christie’s books were garbage and that he couldn ...

I, too, write a little

Lorna Sage: Katherine Mansfield

18 June 1998
The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks: Vol I 
edited by Margaret Scott.
Lincoln University Press, 310 pp., NZ $79.95, September 1997, 0 908896 48 4
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The Katherine Mansfield Notebooks: Vol II 
edited by Margaret Scott.
Lincoln University Press, 355 pp., NZ $79.95, September 1997, 0 908896 49 2
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... in deciphering their unreliable handwriting and arcane order must suggest a labour of love. Is Ms Scott perhaps the archival equivalent of Mansfield’s much abused lady minder ‘L.M.’ (Ida Baker)? Not in the least. Some of Mansfield’s own witty and acerbic tone seems to have rubbed off on her. She takes a cool pleasure in pointing out, for instance, that one of the mots Murry salvaged ...

The Statistical Gaze

Helen McCarthy: The British Census

28 June 2017
The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through Its Census, since 1801 
by Roger​ Hutchinson.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4087 0701 2
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... it felt important not to get anything wrong. It’s unlikely that the subjects of the first British census, the decennial population count established in 1801, would have shared this sensation. As Roger Hutchinson tells us in his very lively account, the early 19th-century equivalents of my visitor were an amateurish assortment of parish overseers, churchwardens, constables and schoolmasters who ...

Bonfire in Merrie England

Richard Wilson: Shakespeare’s Burning

3 May 2017
... chairman of the theatre, Archibald Flower, a brewing magnate and head of the dynasty that had founded the Memorial, became ‘the most important figure in Chesterton’s life’, according to David Baker in Ideology of Obsession: A.K. Chesterton and British Fascism. The two met when Chesterton went to interview Flower, ‘whose reign over Stratford-upon-Avon came as near absolutism as made no odds ...

One Chapter More

Leah Price: Ectoplasm

6 July 2000
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle 
by Daniel Stashower.
Penguin, 472 pp., £18.99, February 2000, 0 7139 9373 1
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... Only later did Conan Doyle cave in. ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’ (1903) revealed that Holmes had survived a miraculous crawl up the ravine of the Reichenbach Falls, wending his way back to Baker Street via Lhasa, Mecca and a laboratory in Montpellier devoted to the study of coal-tar derivatives. ‘So the old dog returns to his vomit,’ Conan Doyle later commented. Yet, despite his resolve ...
6 June 1996
... Rhodes’s legatees were taking the liner across to Southampton in October 1968, and viewing their own destiny with a high seriousness and purity, they found themselves sharing a ship with Bobby Baker. Mr Baker, who was Lyndon Johnson’s bag-man and fixer within the Democratic Party and throughout the capital city, had been convicted in a sensational trial of tax fraud and conspiracy. His ...

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