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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 RogerHutchinson 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 ...

Strutting

Linda Colley

21 September 1995
All the Sweets of Being: The Life of James Boswell 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Mainstream, 238 pp., £17.50, May 1995, 1 85158 702 0
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ 
edited by Marshall Waingrow.
Edinburgh, 518 pp., £75, March 1995, 0 7486 0471 5
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Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 245 pp., £30, April 1995, 0 19 818259 7
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... David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Edmund Burke, courtly politicians, cheerful whores, fine lords and ladies, down-at-heel actresses, a time of ‘free-flowing claret and sexual anarchy’, as RogerHutchinson puts it. Strutting and tumbling through it all – and, of course concocting this vision, which was scarcely a comprehensive one – was James Boswell himself, with whom the editors were ...

Ah, la vie!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Lytton Strachey’s letters

1 December 2005
The Letters of Lytton Strachey 
edited by Paul Levy.
Viking, 698 pp., £30, March 2005, 0 670 89112 6
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... poet who sang the praises of ‘Our Lady of Pain’.) Though the publicity material for this volume calls attention to the ‘shocking’ evidence of sado-masochism in his last serious affair, with Roger Senhouse, Strachey’s bent for victimisation is apparent long before the cheerful allusions to being beaten and cut. Some of the correspondence with Senhouse is disturbing, but the letter that ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa

13 April 2000
The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... felt my way into them. So perhaps there was an element of personal curiosity as I approached a show of Vanessa’s paintings at the Tate last winter, presented along with those of Duncan Grant and Roger Fry as The Art of Bloomsbury. On another level, I approached a show of that name as one does a walk down a rainswept trunk road: however close you pull your coat, you know you’re going to get ...

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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... and Wheatley was a relentless self-aggrandiser; but it sounds about right. In the mid-1960s, three decades into his career, he had 55 books in print, which collectively accounted for one seventh of Hutchinson’s turnover; Arrow, Hutchinson’s paperback imprint, was selling 1,150,000 Wheatleys a year, a quarter of their total output; in 1966, the paperback of The Satanist sold more than 100,000 copies in ...
22 August 1996
Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger​ Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... We have all kinds of images of the modern poet, little mythologies made out of snatches of the life and work and reputation. The figure is hieratic and austere, like Mallarmé and Valéry, inward and intricate like Eliot and Pessoa, serenely eccentric like Marianne Moore, public and overflowing like Neruda and Pound. One of the strangest and most tantalising of these images is that of Yeats, both worldly ...

Exact Walking

Christopher Hill

19 June 1980
Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 
by R.T. Kendall.
Oxford, 252 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 826716 9
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... neither doth he seek for any blessing from his obedience, nor fear any curse from his disobedience.’ Cotton was believed to have been mainly responsible for the antinomian aberrations of Mrs Anne Hutchinson which shook New England in 1636-8 until she was condemned, Cotton deserting her only just in time. These facts must have been in the minds of the Westminster divines. Equally important were the ...

At Dulwich

Alice Spawls: Vanessa Bell

17 May 2017
... Bloomsbury’s long shadow. The curators can’t help but enact the impossibility of separating the work from the life. Some of the ways in which they fail are better than others. ‘Mrs St John Hutchinson’ (1915) There are things that are helpful or interesting to know, in any case, like that Bell studied under Sargent at the RA, and took private classes as a teenager. As children she and Virginia ...
10 November 1994
Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 
by Roger​ Thompson.
Massachusetts, 305 pp., £39.50, April 1994, 0 87023 893 0
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Adapting to a New World: English Society in the 17th-century Chesapeake 
by James Horn.
North Carolina, 461 pp., $65, September 1994, 0 8078 2137 3
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... early American history. Both aim to correct the misunderstandings of earlier writers, and though both books are technical studies, both propose or imply broad visions of 17th-ccntury Anglo-America. Roger Thompson, who teaches at East Anglia, has spent years – it must have been decades – studying the genealogies of 2138 East Anglians among the 14,000-21,000 emigrants in the Puritan-led Great ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: On the trail of Arthur Cravan

9 March 2006
... name is not much known this side of the Channel, where there is as yet no biography of him or translation of his works. (A long-awaited life is in preparation by the leading Anglophone Cravaniste, Roger Lloyd Conover.) This lacuna is curious because although Cravan was Swiss by birth, and wrote exclusively in French, he was a mix of Irish and English by blood. I have long been fascinated by this ...

Making strange

John Sutherland

19 March 1981
Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... and was coming up for retirement, the master suggested to Pope that he create a successor.) Nevertheless, I would take the genre’s progenitor to be the less estimable Dennis Wheatley, with his Roger Brook saga. It’s tempting to think of these fictional sausage strings as the male equivalent of Mills and Boon romances – ‘books that please’, kleenex for the mind. There are, however ...

No Clapping

Rosemary Hill: The Bloomsbury Memoir Club

16 July 2014
The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club 
by S.P. Rosenbaum, edited by James Haule.
Palgrave, 203 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 137 36035 9
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... what I didn’t read into their reading.’ Supposedly a secret society, it largely remained so until after the Second World War. The first and most enduring members were Molly and Desmond MacCarthy, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, Vanessa and Clive Bell, Duncan Grant, the Woolfs, Lytton Strachey and Forster. Mary Hutchinson and Sydney Waterlow were also invited but fell by the wayside. Even by Bloomsbury ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier

4 January 2018
... book says they should be doing. Chrissie opposite says she has a couple of yellow wagtails in her garden, but she is much nearer the water. Not sure how common grey wagtails are, I knock on Timmy Hutchinson (Timmy the Twitcher)’s door to tell him so that he can put them in his bird column in the village bulletin.10 July. A programme currently said to be unexpectedly popular is Love Island, which is ...

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