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Mansions in Bloom

Ruth Richardson

23 May 1991
A Paradise out of a Common Field: The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden 
by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards.
Century, 256 pp., £16.95, May 1990, 0 7126 2209 8
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Private Gardens of London 
by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 297 83025 2
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The Greatest Glasshouse: The Rainforest Recreated 
edited by Sue Minter.
HMSO, 216 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 11 250035 8
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Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, 1780-1865 
by Albion Urdank.
California, 448 pp., $47.50, May 1990, 0 520 06670 7
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... The garden whose pleasures and plenty are described in A Paradise out of a Common Field is neither typical nor representative. Its owner is extremely rich, and its location a Victorian form of Arcadia: a place where money is no object, where all the world is the topmost Society, and where the servant class knows its place. Perhaps because this flawless corner of Victoria’s England is so very unlike ...

So Very Silent

John Pemble: Victorian Corpse Trade

25 October 2012
Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and Its Trade in the Dead Poor, c.1834-1929 
by Elizabeth Hurren.
Palgrave, 380 pp., £65, December 2011, 978 0 230 21966 3
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Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor 
by Ruth Richardson.
Oxford, 370 pp., £16.99, February 2012, 978 0 19 964588 6
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... Union Workhouse. It’s also been discovered that Dickens once lived in the same street, and the Georgian workhouse has been saved from demolition because it’s reckoned, on evidence detailed by RuthRichardson in Dickens and the Workhouse, that it must be the most famous workhouse of all – the one in Oliver Twist. The claim isn’t convincing. Oliver Twist’s workhouse is 75 miles north of ...
21 January 1988
Granville Sharp Pattison: Anatomist and Antagonist 1791-1851 
by F.L.M. Pattison.
Canongate, 284 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 86241 077 0
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Death, Dissection and the Destitute 
by Ruth Richardson.
Routledge, 426 pp., £19.95, January 1988, 0 7102 0919 3
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... by his students. It was there that scandal first struck. Anatomists required bodies, but cadavers were in short supply (Burke and Hare were soon to find a novel solution to this bottleneck). As RuthRichardson argues in her original anatomy of the Anatomy Acts, sentiment had always run strong throughout society against the desecration of the corpse. Popular piety went in awe of the shades of the departed ...

Richardson, alas

Claude Rawson

12 November 1987
Samuel Richardson 
by Jocelyn Harris.
Cambridge, 179 pp., £22.50, February 1987, 0 521 30501 2
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... Richardson is the Hugo, hélas! of the 18th-century English novel, as Coleridge might have said: ‘I confess that it has cost – still costs my philosophy some exertion not to be vexed that I must admire – ...

No Sense of an Ending

Jane Eldridge Miller

21 September 1995
Windows on Modernism: Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson 
edited by Gloria Fromm.
Georgia, 696 pp., £58.50, February 1995, 0 8203 1659 8
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... To read the letters of Dorothy Richardson is to become exhausted, vicariously, by the ‘non-stop housewifery’ which consumed her days. From 1918 until 1939, Richardson and her husband moved three times a year. Every autumn, they settled in a primitive rented cottage in Cornwall, where Richardson was responsible for shopping, cooking and cleaning, as well as for her ...

Vampiric Words

Ruth​ Bernard Yeazell

26 May 1994
The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing and Imprisonment 
by Maud Ellmann.
Virago, 136 pp., £7.99, September 1993, 1 85381 675 2
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... lovers yearn to break free of what Catherine at another point calls ‘this shattered prison’ of the body, but that is another proposition altogether. Similar questions arise in the treatment of Richardson’s Clarissa, the protracted dying of whose heroine prompts an extended comparison with the grim rituals practised in the Irish hunger strike of 1981. Disarmingly acknowledging some obvious ...

I whine for her like a babe

Ruth​ Bernard Yeazell: The Other Alice James

25 June 2009
Alice in Jamesland: The Story of Alice Howe Gibbens James 
by Susan Gunter.
Nebraska, 422 pp., £38, March 2009, 978 0 8032 1569 6
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... and took off for a summer in Canada. In a gesture that goes unmentioned here, she nonetheless seems to have left him a parting gift: a small compass that William’s most recent biographer, Robert Richardson, takes as a hint that her lover orient himself in her direction.* This may be over-reading – William was an enthusiastic hiker – but the temptation is understandable: both before the marriage and ...
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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... autumn of 1977, there was an Austen discovery, not of a novel but not of a fragment either – a complete new play, apparently Jane Austen’s version of a work she had admired from childhood, Samuel Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison. It was actually a discovery only in a manner of speaking, since the manuscript was never properly lost. It had been handed down among the descendants of Jane Austen’s ...

Boom and Bust

Margaret Anne Doody

19 June 1997
A History of the Breast 
by Marilyn Yalom.
HarperCollins, 331 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 0 04 440913 3
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... even if there are some contradictions and many gaps. She is not much given to acknowledging the work of others. In her study of the 18th century, for instance, she repeats what a number of scholars (Ruth Perry especially) have already dealt with, and this should be more openly recognised. Even more striking is the paucity of literary quotation, and the almost total absence of quotation from, or ...

Preceding Backwardness

Margaret Anne Doody

9 January 1992
Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel 
by Elizabeth Bergan Brophy.
University of South Florida Press, 291 pp., $29.95, April 1991, 0 8130 1036 5
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Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel 
by Ruth​ Bernard Yeazell.
Chicago, 306 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 226 95096 4
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... from the women themselves. The accounts are very literally laid side by side. The author gives us a section of information derived from the novels, restricted to the work of seven novelists: Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Sarah Fielding, Charlotte Lennox, Sarah Scott, Clara Reeve and Frances Burney. (There are occasional references to other writers, such as Jane Austen.) A segment on, for instance ...

Collapse of the Sofa Cushions

Ruth​ Bernard Yeazell

24 March 1994
Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics 
by Isobel Armstrong.
Routledge, 545 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 415 03016 1
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The Woman Reader: 1837-1914 
by Kate Flint.
Oxford, 366 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 19 811719 1
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... is another poet whose poems may be put before “virginibus puerisque”,’ an anonymous advice book of 1881 confidently assured its readers, before going on to issue the usual warnings against Richardson and Smollett. For Sarah Stickney Ellis, poetry was particularly suited to women readers because it is removed from ‘the realities of material and animal existence’. On the other hand, much of the ...

Viva la trattoria

Ruth​ Bernard Yeazell: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

9 October 2003
Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Her Sister Arabella 
edited by Scott Lewis.
Wedgestone, $300, October 2002, 0 911459 29 4
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... her belief in the capacity of spirits to cross continents and penetrate walls to recognise the truth of her claim. The collection opens with a narrative immediacy that would do justice to Samuel Richardson, as EBB hastens to reaffirm the bond her marriage and flight have threatened to sever: My beloved Arabel I write to you after a thousand thoughts . . (for I have not heard a breath of any of you yet ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland

11 July 1991
The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... mention that a couple of years later, when Olive was 11, the father, ‘a pious, dreamy, ineffectual, German missionary’, was forced out of the ministry for trading and promptly went bankrupt. As Ruth First and Ann Scott tell us in their 1980 biography of Schreiner, this catastrophe ‘scattered the children and marked the end of the family home’. It seems, on the face of it, as noteworthy as ...
5 February 1987
The Red Men 
by Patrick McGinley.
Cape, 304 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 0 224 02386 1
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Chat Show 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 575 03910 8
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Leaden Wings 
by Zhang Jie, translated by Gladys Yang.
Virgo, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 86068 759 7
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Russian Novel 
by Edward Kuznetsov, translated by Jennifer Bradshaw.
Quartet, 285 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 7043 2522 5
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Richard Robertovich 
by Mark Frankland.
Murray, 216 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 7195 4330 4
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... poignantly funny, for instance, that Cookie, so thoroughly seduced by a skilled erotic practitioner, should be writing a thesis on the idea of seduction as extended metaphor in the works of Samuel Richardson), and his evocations of landscape and seascape are successful, not simply as description, but as definitions of a mythic environment. There is much to praise, and yet there remains one fairly ...
19 March 1987
... the sort of mechanical marine thrillers which sprung up in the wake of C.S. Forester. Smollett and Marryat are here being rewritten less for the excitement than for the feeling, as Dr Johnson said of Richardson: both O’Brian and Farrell share the wholly civilised, entirely good-humoured champagne Irishness of Laurence Sterne. Celtic fantasy maybe, but there was never anything less like a leprechaun.Both ...

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