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What’s It All About?

Tom Lubbock, 6 April 1995

Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... make lists. In favour of ‘contemporary art’: Nicholas Serota (at the Tate), Charles Saatchi, Sarah Kent (Time Out), Richard Dorment (Daily Telegraph, oddly enough). Against: Modern Painters, Brian Sewell (Evening Standard), Giles Auty (Spectator), Glynn Williams (at the RCA) and any number of Johnsonian or Waugh-like commentators who throw ...

Elegy for Gurney

Sarah Howe: Robert Edric, 4 December 2008

In Zodiac Light 
by Robert Edric.
Doubleday, 368 pp., £16.99, July 2008, 978 0 385 61258 6
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... that the local shipping channels are called the ‘Lower Hope Reaches’: who would have known Kent was an allegorical landscape? Another unfortunate consequence of In Zodiac Light’s dalliance with allegory is the flatness of its villains. The hospital’s hierarchy has Osborne, a shamelessly careerist acting superintendent, at its head. His chief ...

Bertie pulls it off

John Campbell, 11 January 1990

King George VI 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 506 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 79667 4
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... have turned out so well. (There were two more brothers, ‘Harry’ of Gloucester and George of Kent, whose capacity for kingship, had the succession moved further down the line, was for different reasons equally doubtful.) Despite the horrors and humiliations of his upbringing as the second son of a father perversely determined that his children should ...

Short Cuts

Jonathan Parry: Harry Goes Rogue, 6 February 2020

... that they should support their own families financially, yet even the dukes of Gloucester and Kent, the queen’s cousins, have always been funded by her Duchy of Lancaster income.This problem is exacerbated by generational obsolescence. As in any media-confected family, the real stars are the young people, particularly for millions of royal-watchers with ...

Blush, grandeur, blush

Norma Clarke: One of the first bluestockings, 16 December 2004

Hannah More: The First Victorian 
by Anne Stott.
Oxford, 384 pp., £20, September 2004, 0 19 927488 6
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... Green in Somerset, following the well-known examples of Robert Raikes in Gloucestershire and Sarah Trimmer in Brentford. Patty kept a journal of the years 1789-99, published as Mendip Annals in 1859 and clearly intended for general edification. According to Patty, God (‘Providence’) started it all by sending the anti-slavery campaigner William ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine, 20 October 1994

Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... possesses the power to captivate, to move, to shock and to anger. Like her near contemporaries Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Farren, Dora Jordan was born (in 1761) in humble circumstances, but with strong theatrical connections. Her parents, Grace Phillips and Francis Bland, were unmarried and her mother was herself an actress. When Dora was 13, her father ...

From a Summer to an Autumn

Michael Wood: Julian Barnes, 9 May 2013

Levels of Life 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 118 pp., £10.99, April 2013, 978 0 224 09815 1
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... if you google him you will see a fine picture of him by Tissot – flew in a balloon from Kent to Normandy in 1882. Four years earlier the actress Sarah Bernhardt had taken a flight from Paris to the Seine-et-Marne. Along with Nadar, these figures and their companions were, Barnes says, ‘the balloon-going classes ...

From a Novel in Progress

James Wood, 9 May 2002

... the Buntings have no historical connection to the North. My mother came from Devon, my father from Kent. Nor was either side distinguished. Despite my fondness for grandeur, I’m unable to tell you what the Buntings were doing during the Reformation, or even the Counter-Reformation. As far as I can tell, our family was completely invisible, no more than a ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... not a university man: he was a North Country cotton merchant and wartime army officer who had seen Sarah Bernhardt when he was 13. ‘Her acting,’ he said, ‘unveiled for me the ecstasy of the body and the torture of the mind.’ When he was 20, Agate went to Paris, to see the actress Réjane and provoke her into giving a better performance. He was devoted ...

Diary

John Upton: Damilola Taylor, 4 January 2001

... sentimental heart of the British Public. It is clear that Damilola Taylor is no Princess Diana or Sarah Payne. I stop to read some of the messages with the flowers. Nearly all seem to be from people who live in and around Peckham: church groups and individuals keen to stress their ties with the place (‘I’ve lived here for thirty years,’ one of them ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!, 14 December 2000

Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... Clark was a volunteer, an amateur who on the tiniest of whims could instantly repair to Kent in order to repair his moat, or to swap a few more of his daddy’s paintings for a few more vintage cars. And as to the politics, here too he was above the dreary fray. He had no real political principles but he did have quite a few well-rooted prejudices ...

Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall, 20 December 2012

My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... Robey, Harry Lauder, Dan Leno and Vesta Tilley rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sir Henry Wood, Sarah Bernhardt and the Ballets Russes. Dickens was fascinated by the performing style of Charles Mathews, a blacked-up minstrel, and put it to use in his own public readings, though without the burned cork. T.S. Eliot revered Marie Lloyd, and the present ...

Merely an Empire

David Thomson: Eighteen Hours in Vietnam, 20 September 2017

The Vietnam War 
directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
PBS, ten episodes
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... let’s go with purported fact. In just the last few years we have had the enchanting enigma of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell (the most Nabokovian film yet made), Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, and the landmark of Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America, the most complete and scary portrait of a very weird guy (our next comeback kid?), and a ...

Topography v. Landscape

John Barrell: Paul Sandby, 13 May 2010

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain 
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... a career that had been based on deftness, on lightness of touch. A View of Vintners at Bexley, Kent, with Mr Whatman’s Turkey Papers Mills, 1794 Living so long, and exerting the influence he did over the development of watercolour, Sandby was described, when he died, as the ‘father of modern landscape painting in watercolours’. At a time when ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... and at reasons for emigrating. The vast mass of New England settlers came from East Anglia and Kent, clothing and Puritan counties. Professor Breen rightly refuses to distinguish between economic and religious reasons for emigration: both existed in Laud’s England, often in the same person. The Stuart government was increasingly interfering in local ...

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