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New Women

Patricia Beer

17 July 1980
The Odd Women 
by George Gissing.
Virago, 336 pp., £2.50, May 1980, 0 86068 140 8
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The Beth Book 
by Sarah Grand.
Virago, 527 pp., £3.50, January 1980, 0 86068 088 6
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... have recently reprinted, in their Modern Classics series, a number of novels dealing with the situation of women at the end of the 19th century. Gissing’s The Odd Women is one of them. Another is SarahGrand’s The Beth Book, published in 1897. One would expect the man’s treatment of the subject to differ from the woman’s, but though the two books are as dissimilar as they could be, the ...

Timo of Corinth

Julian Symons

6 August 1992
A Choice of Murder 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0832 5
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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife 
by Barbara Anderson.
Secker, 309 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 9780436200977
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Turtle Moon 
by Alice Hoffman.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 333 57867 8
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Double Down 
by Tom Kakonis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 333 57492 3
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... study in power politics. Portrait of the Artist’s Wife begins with the funeral of what a ministerial encomium calls ‘New Zealand’s most venerated writer’, Jack Macalister. Present is wife Sarah, who urges those present to read his books, the Macalister girls Dora and Emily, twenty years apart in age, and Jack’s friend and first publisher Charles Bremner, who was also Sarah’s lover ...

Adieu, madame

Terry Castle: Sarah​ Bernhardt

4 November 2010
SarahThe Life of Sarah​ Bernhardt 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, October 2010, 978 0 300 14127 6
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... Sarah Bernhardt’s strangest gift – or so it seems a hundred years after the fact – was her ability to make the most improbable people go cuckoo over her. An otherwise mopey young D.H. Lawrence, for ...

Crimewatch UK

John Upton: The Tabloids, the Judges and the Mob

21 September 2000
... see populist measures outlined or tabled by politicians, populist judgments delivered in the courts, and unthinking, vengeful behaviour on the ground. Two cases stand out: those of Myra Hindley and Sarah Payne. In both public fury has prevailed over fairness, the interests of the bereaved over those of the community as a whole. In 1966, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady were convicted of the murder of two ...

Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill

Jonathan Raban: Sarah​ Palin’s Cunning

9 October 2008
... Sarah Palin has put a new face and voice to the long-standing, powerful, but inchoate movement in US political life that one might see as a mutant variety of Poujadism, inflected with a modern American ...


Sarah​ Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’

5 July 2018
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... was surmised that if he had eaten breakfast before picking up the scalpel, the food would have absorbed any poison attending the corpse, and he would have survived essentially unscathed. This was the Grand Guignol stage on which Joseph Lister – the subject of Lindsey Fitzharris’s agreeably grisly and fastidiously detailed book The Butchering Art – took his place. Born into a Quaker family, Lister ...

Donne’s Reputation

Sarah​ Wintle

20 November 1980
English Renaissance Studies 
edited by John Carey.
Oxford, 320 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 19 812093 1
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... on epic catalogues, are on Milton. Eliot made a major contribution to the ‘dislodgement’ of Milton, but Milton studies never even faltered. Indeed, important books like Ricks’s Milton’s Grand Style were conceived of as counterblasts to the Leavis-Eliot offensive. Barbara Everett’s piece is too: her starting-point is Eliot’s treatment of Milton’s name-dropping in the first of his ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures

17 June 2015
... The Palazzo Centrale The Japanese Pavilion The Nordic Pavilion The Dutch Pavilion Monica Bonvicini’s chainsaw sculptures in the Arsenale The Swiss Pavilion The French Pavilion The British Pavilion Sarah Lucas for the British Pavilion The Greek Pavilion Sarah Sze’s ‘Landscape for an Event Suspended Indefinitely’ Sammy Baloji for the Belgian Pavilion The Armstrong Mitchell Crane near the ...

Feast of Darks

Christine Stansell: Whistler

23 October 2003
Whistler, Women and Fashion 
by Margaret MacDonald and Susan Grace Galassi et al.
Yale, 243 pp., £35, May 2003, 0 300 09906 1
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Whistler and His Mother: An Unexpected Relationship 
by Sarah​ Walden.
Gibson Square, 242 pp., £15.99, July 2003, 1 903933 28 5
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... American Eakins, but it’s clear that he came nowhere near Eakins’s painterly integrity or his influence. Whistler mostly couldn’t be bothered to learn from other artists. He knew many grand people, from Baudelaire to Wilde to Proust, and basked in the admiration of some important painters, notably Degas and Monet, but his comments on art were either self-inflating pronouncements or ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange

6 March 2014
... that would come to characterise the circus I was about to enter. Ellingham Hall is a draughty country residence with stags’ heads in the hall. In the dining room there were laptops everywhere. Sarah Harrison, Assange’s personal assistant and girlfriend, was wearing a woolly jumper and kept scraping her ringlets off her face. Another girl, maybe Spanish or South American or Eastern European ...
23 October 1986
The Bondage of Love: A Life of Mrs Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
by Molly Lefebure.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £15.95, July 1986, 0 575 03871 3
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Jane Welsh Carlyle 
by Virginia Surtees.
Michael Russell, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 85955 134 2
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... in journalism. Above all, we should have no means of knowing they had recently met an odious couple called the Wordsworths, a brother and sister, about whom Sam was wildly enthusiastic but whom Sarah correctly divined to be a dire threat. What was so objectionable about these Wordsworths? Well, to begin with they were so quietly but insufferably pleased with themselves, so convinced that they ...

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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... 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, ‘Daughters’ will ...

Fear among the Teacups

Dinah Birch: Ellen Wood

8 February 2001
East Lynne 
by Ellen Wood, edited by Andrew Maunder.
Broadview, 779 pp., £7.95, October 2000, 1 55111 234 5
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... The privileges of a gentleman must be earned as Isabel’s prosperous husband Archibald Carlyle earns them – through steady toil. His second wife, the trying and triumphant Barbara Hare, is less grand than Isabel, but she has more common sense. Her devoted ordinariness is what fits her for marriage with the up-and-coming Carlyle. Isabel is doomed from the moment she enters the novel, gleaming with ...

The End

Angela Carter

18 September 1986
A Land Apart: A South African Reader 
edited by André Brink and J.M. Coetzee.
Faber, 252 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13933 7
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Where Sixpence lives 
by Norma Kitson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3085 7
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... But they looked at me blankly. They didn’t want to know. When Norma Kitson, or Cranko, as she was then, was a little girl, she lived in a big house in Durban. The small son of her mother’s maid Sarah was allowed to come and stay for a few weeks every year; the Crankos used to call him ‘Sixpence’. The rest of the year, Sixpence lived miles away in Zululand with his brothers and sisters ...

Soothe and Scold

Helen McCarthy: Mothers

12 September 2019
Mother: An Unconventional History 
by Sarah​ Knott.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, March, 978 0 241 19860 5
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... another, pounce on every surviving description of what it is like to conceive, carry, give birth to, feed, wash, soothe and scold an infant, and something like a history of mothering comes into view. Sarah Knott privileges anecdote in her account of mothering in Britain and North America over the past four centuries, partly because she wants to think about subjectivity and experience, but also because ...

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