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Sit like an Apple

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Artists’ Wives, 23 October 2008

Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model-Wives of Cézanne, Monet and Rodin 
by Ruth Butler.
Yale, 354 pp., £18.99, July 2008, 978 0 300 12624 2
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... however. Monet did not pay her to sit for him: like the other two women who are the subject of Ruth Butler’s new book – Hortense Fiquet (Paul Cézanne) and Rose Beuret (Auguste Rodin) – Doncieux was first the artist’s mistress and later his wife. Hiring a model cost a minimum of one franc an hour; painting the woman who already shared your bed ...


Nicholas Penny, 15 July 1982

Victorian Sculpture 
by Benedict Read.
Yale, 414 pp., £30, June 1982, 0 300 02506 8
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... sculpture in English yet published, unless one counts the excellent but very much shorter piece by Ruth Butler (then Mirolli) in the catalogue of the similar but smaller exhibition held at the J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, in 1971. Poetic sculpture in Victorian England was sometimes reproduced on a reduced scale in parian ware or (especially at the ...

Howl, Howl, Howl!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Fanny Kemble, 22 May 2008

Fanny Kemble: A Performed Life 
by Deirdre David.
Pennsylvania, 347 pp., £26, June 2007, 978 0 8122 4023 8
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... Wars (2000) focused on the critique of slavery that Kemble produced after her marriage to Pierce Butler, a wealthy Philadelphian who inherited an extensive plantation in Georgia, and on the intra-familial struggles that played out between Kemble and her two daughters. Fanny and Adelaide: The Lives of the Remarkable Kemble Sisters (2001) is a dual biography ...

Lily and Lolly

Sarah Rigby, 18 July 1996

The Yeats Sisters: A Biography of Susan and Elizabeth Yeats 
by Joan Hardwick.
Pandora, 263 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 04 440924 9
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... Shortly before he died in 1922, John Butler Yeats wrote an angry, defensive letter to his eldest son William. W.B. Yeats had published a memoir in the Dial and his father objected to the almost parenthetical mention in one episode of an ‘enraged’ Yeats family. The remark unleashed in him a long-restrained irritation, prompting an impassioned defence of his daughters ...

The Stansgate Tapes

John Turner, 8 December 1994

Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... relationships with sundry Tory leaders who were interested in the House of Lords question. R.A. Butler was particularly forthcoming, his personal sympathy and obvious liking for Benn rather tempered by the understandable hope that any re-arrangement of the law regarding succession to the peerage should not let Quintin back in. The final two years of ...

Reading the Bible

John Barton, 5 May 1988

The Literary Guide to the Bible 
edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode.
Collins, 678 pp., £20, December 1987, 0 00 217439 1
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... Everyone communes with the Bible,’ wrote Marilyn Butler recently in her Cambridge inaugural lecture, commenting on the recent re-inclusion of the Biblical canon in the canon of English literature. Northrop Frye celebrated the literary rediscovery of Scripture in The Great Code, and now Frank Kermode and Robert Alter, two critics who have given a new rigour and seriousness to the ‘Bible as literature’ movement, have brought together a constellation of literary and Biblical specialists, from both sides of the Atlantic, to explain the Bible from a literary standpoint for what the blurb calls ‘cultivated general readers ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... of the man, who has excellent taste, a quietly refined manner, and an unshakable belief in the truth of his own opinions. In both ‘The Street of the Hyacinth’ and ‘At the Château of Corinne’ (1887), the hero, having helped to persuade the heroine that she has no artistic gift, ends by marrying her; but in none of the stories in this volume does ...

Vicarious Sages

Michael Mason, 3 November 1983

John Forster: A Literary Life 
by James Davies.
Leicester University Press, 318 pp., £25, June 1983, 0 7185 1164 6
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Mr George Eliot: A Biography of George Henry Lewes 
by David Williams.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 340 25717 2
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Johnnie Cross 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 153 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03333 9
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... things in a book, as a reviewer or literary friend he urged it on. His verdict on Mrs Gaskell’s Ruth is characteristic: ‘It is a true book ... and will do infinite good to all who by such means are capable of receiving it.’ Of Forster’s moralistic exertions in relation to a rather different author his friend Procter wrote, without apparent ...

Situations Vacant

Dinah Birch, 20 October 1994

The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below 
by Bruce Robbins.
Duke, 261 pp., £13.95, June 1993, 0 8223 1397 9
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... The strongly theatrical heritage of servants means that fiction’s pretensions to realistic truth are challenged by their presence. The servant’s disobedience, or even fidelity, becomes a means of breaking free from the ground rules of realism. Freedom within service is marked in the servant’s language. Full of proverbs (the proverbial servant is as ...

Jane Austen’s Latest

Marilyn Butler, 21 May 1981

Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ 
edited by Brian Southam.
Oxford, 150 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 19 812637 9
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... the Sotheby’s auction – Jane Austen in Manhattan, directed by James Ivory and scripted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Jane Austen’s contribution to the film was admittedly slight to begin with, and became wholly submerged, in what turned out to be a subtle, ambivalent study of two rival producers of the play, with very different aesthetic premises but a ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... the substantial comfort into which she was born – or because of it – there is considerable truth in a friend’s joke that both Teddy Roosevelt and Edith Wharton were ‘self-made men’. ‘Atrophy,’ Lee notes, was one of Wharton’s key words; and ‘paralysis in America … what she most feared’. Though the spare New England setting of Ethan ...

Writing Absurdity

Adam Shatz: Chester Himes, 25 April 2018

Chester B. Himes: A Biography 
by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Norton, 606 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 393 06389 9
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... most disliked’ about his work, Himes believed, ‘was the fact that I came too close to the truth.’ He wasn’t wrong in thinking that something beyond pure aesthetic judgment had prevented him from reaching a wider audience. Long before Himes left America for good, he had committed what, for black writers of the era, was a kind of treason: he depicted ...

Who Owns Kafka?

Judith Butler, 3 March 2011

... is that a trial would eventually take place after Esther’s death in which her daughters, Eva and Ruth, would claim that no one needs to inventory the materials and that the value of the manuscripts should be determined by their weight – quite literally, by what they weigh. As one of the attorneys representing Hoffe’s estate explained: ‘If we get an ...

But You Married Him

Rosemary Hill: Princess Margaret and Lady Anne, 4 June 2020

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown 
by Anne Glenconner.
Hodder, 336 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 1 5293 5906 0
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... which has led to a tide of unchecked and uncheckable tabloid stories and tales of what the butler says he saw.Princess Margaret belonged to the generation that didn’t talk to the press, but the press talked about her, and after her scandalous romance with the divorced Captain Peter Townsend they talked in ever less respectful terms. She was cast as ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... oak. It was this house where Eric Korn heard someone reading out the plaque as being to ‘William Butler Yeast’. ‘Presumably,’ Eric wanted to say, ‘him responsible for the Easter Rising.’ 17 February. Stopped by a man outside the post office in Regents Park Road who fishes in his wallet and shows me a note I sent nearly 50 years ago to Bernard ...

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