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Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... hath not seen nor pen can write the ghastly coarseness of the sight.’ Its proprietor, Baron Alfred de Rothschild, liked to admire it from a dogcart drawn by two zebras. His other fancy was to conduct a Hungarian band in the winter garden. If Classicism was the vernacular in England, Scots Baronial was the required whimsy north of the ...

That Corrupting Country

Thomas Keymer: Orientalist Jones, 9 May 2013

Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer and Linguist, 1746-94 
by Michael Franklin.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, September 2011, 978 0 19 953200 1
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... septuagenarian piety (‘Preparation for eternity’). Jones didn’t mean, his first biographer, Baron Teignmouth, nervously added, that we shouldn’t be preparing for eternity the whole time. But it was secular immortality he really had in view as he worked his way through the demanding regime of intellectual and practical attainments laid out in the ...

A Glorious Thing

Julie Peters: Piracy, 4 November 2010

Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 626 pp., £24, February 2010, 978 0 226 40118 8
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... to degrade the nobility of literature and ideas. This was the view held, for instance, by Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges, antiquarian, forger, embezzler and (as Johns writes) a ‘self-deluding impostor of extraordinary proportions’. Brydges spent much of his life composing unremarkable sonnets (about 2000 a year as he got older) while trying to prove (on ...

Dr Love or Dr God?

Luc Sante: ‘The Man in the Red Coat’, 5 March 2020

The Man in the Red Coat 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 280 pp., £20, November 2019, 978 1 78733 216 4
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... The man​  in the title of Julian Barnes’s eighth work of non-fiction is the Parisian physician Samuel Pozzi. The red coat, or perhaps it’s a dressing-gown, is what he is wearing in the 1881 portrait by John Singer Sargent, Dr Pozzi at Home. It is a swashbuckling, very theatrical portrait, one that would make anyone curious about its subject ...

Lights On and Away We Go

Keith Thomas: Happy Thoughts, 20 May 2021

The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 
by Ritchie Robertson.
Allen Lane, 984 pp., £40, November 2020, 978 0 241 00482 1
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... in this world rather than salvation in the next. The belief was made explicit by atheists such as Baron d’Holbach, whose Système de la nature (1770) reproached the clergy for making people’s lives miserable while comforting them with the delusory hope of a happier life in the hereafter. The mainstream Enlightenment, by contrast, was not against religion ...

Rogue Socialists

Michael Mason, 1 September 1988

Francis Place, 1771-1854: The Life of a Remarkable Radical 
by Dudley Miles.
Harvester, 206 pp., £40, April 1988, 0 7108 1225 6
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Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840 
by Iain McCalman.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 521 30755 4
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... not tend to their advantage.’ He expressed the emotional roots of this attitude in a letter to Samuel Rogers, in three sentences with a stirring cadence such as he seldom used (and a possible Shakespearean echo): I saw amongst them, much merit – much patient suffering – wonderful endurance – industry – care and desire to be and to appear ...

A Win for the Gentlemen

Paul Smith, 9 September 1993

Entrepreneurial Politics in Mid-Victorian Britain 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 346 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 19 820357 8
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... of limited competitive entry to the civil service was crucial. Life, for the hosiery manufacturer Samuel Morley, was ‘really a continued competitive examination’. But all depended on who chose the syllabus, set the questions and marked the answers. Entrepreneurial politicians soon grasped that the new examinations for the public service were not designed ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... MacGregor left the Department of Transport to become a director of the merchant bank Hill Samuel, which, while he had been Secretary of State, advised British Rail on the Channel Tunnel. (MacGregor has now been sacked in a cull of jobs at Hill Samuel, and we must wait for next year’s accounts to know the extent of ...

Six French Frizeurs

David A. Bell, 10 December 1998

The Perfidy of Albion: French Perceptions of England during the French Revolution 
by Norman Hampson.
Macmillan, 210 pp., £40, June 1998, 0 333 73148 4
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Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders 
by Don Herzog.
Princeton, 472 pp., £18, September 1998, 0 691 04831 2
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... dithyrambic praise of the English constitution in The Spirit of the Laws, like Diderot’s for Samuel Richardson (‘O Richardson, Richardson ... I will keep you on the same shelf with Moses, Homer, Euripides and Sophocles’) caused French hearts to beat even faster. A steady supply of political pilgrims made their way across the Channel to observe the ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... Rodker) was discounted, along with the social realists (Robert Westerby, James Curtis, Alexander Baron), who remain trapped in a ghetto of unfashionable leftist politics and unfashionable locations. The locations – Whitechapel, Notting Hill – have recovered, but the politics have evaporated like a puddle on hot tarmac. We can’t afford to ignore ...


Jonathan Lamb: 18th-century seafaring, 20 March 2003

Voyages of Delusion: The Search for the Northwest Passage in the Age of Reason 
by Glyn Williams.
HarperCollins, 467 pp., £8.99, March 2003, 0 00 653213 6
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Voyage to Desolation Island 
by Jean-Paul Kauffmann, translated by Patricia Clancy.
Harvill, 177 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 1 86046 926 4
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... where he had his first intuition of mortal blankness, commemorated in the rolling of his eyes in Baron Gros’s picture The Battle of Eylau. As for Kerguelen, he found the offensive clutter of the island he had discovered – its rocks, bogs and watercourses, all surmounted by the hideous mockery of its greenery – so repulsive that he could not bear to set ...

Top Brands Today

Nicholas Penny: The Art World, 14 December 2017

The Auctioneer: A Memoir of Great Art, Legendary Collectors and Record-Breaking Auctions 
by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem.
Allen and Unwin, 312 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 1 76011 350 6
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Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and Its Dealers 
by Philip Hook.
Profile, 282 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78125 570 4
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Donald Judd: Writings 
edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray.
David Zwirner, 1054 pp., £28, November 2016, 978 1 941701 35 5
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... diamond’), Al Taubman and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. De Pury was private curator to Baron ‘Heini’ – Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza – then chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, then established Phillips de Pury, which he hoped would ‘turn the auction house duoply that was Sotheby’s and Christie’s into a triumvirate that included ...

A Day’s Work

Joanna Biggs: Reports from the Workplace, 9 April 2015

... people would like to pretend doesn’t exist. Sex has been linked to servitude for a long time: Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel of seduction, Pamela, showed how serving a master in the dining room might slide into serving him in the bedchamber; in the mid-19th century a Salvation Army register showed that 88 per cent of the prostitutes it helped had once ...

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