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Coldbath Fields

Simon Bradley: In Praise of Peabody

21 June 2007
London in the 19th Century: ‘A Human Awful Wonder of God’ 
by Jerry White.
Cape, 624 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 224 06272 5
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... Moulded in terracotta relief above the door of an austere building in Shoreditch, on the northern fringes of the City of London, is an arresting motto: E Pulvere Lux Et Vis. The ‘light’ and ‘power’ were electrical; the ‘dust’ that was burned to generate them was the refuse from the surrounding streets. Twenty thousand tons of this fuel, most of it horse dung, was gathered locally every ...

Trains in Space

James Meek: The Great Train Robbery

4 May 2016
The Railways: Nation, Network and People 
by Simon Bradley.
Profile, 645 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 1 84668 209 4
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... power is disconcerting: it still pulls you to London at 125 miles an hour. I’ve experienced this spectacle many times over, in the town where I grew up. Those engines were new in the 1970s. Unlike SimonBradley I lack the trainspotter’s enthusiasm for locomotives, and I’ve had some horrible journeys on that train. But the theatrical grandeur of its arrival always alters my sense of my ...

In the City

Peter Campbell: Public sculpture

22 May 2003
... Ward-Jackson’s Public Sculpture of the City of London* is the seventh volume of Public Sculpture of Britain. It does for public sculpture (but not sculpture inside churches or galleries) what SimonBradley and Nikolaus Pevsner do for the buildings the sculpture is on (or near) in The Buildings of England volume on The City of London. In a way it does more. While buildings have to be interesting ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’

6 September 2001
The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... about this folly, and so we stop asking questions.’ One test of a style is how easy it is to parody. Pevsner’s is more difficult than it looks. It defeats A.N. Wilson in Who Was Oswald Fish?, as SimonBradley points out in a wide-ranging essay on ‘Pevsner in Fiction, Theatre and Cinema’. Imitation even of the most laconic entries is difficult. Only Alan Hollinghurst, among Bradley’s examples ...


Alan Hollinghurst: In Houston

18 March 1999
... In my early days there it was perhaps some unacknowledged form of homesickness that kept me perversely reading the wonderful fat new edition of Pevsner’s City of London, revised and expanded by SimonBradley.* I found myself repeatedly escaping from the shallow architectural culture of Houston (founded 1836, the year of Texan independence) into imaginary rambles through my own city (founded 50 BC ...
9 October 2013
The Hamlet Doctrine 
by Simon​ Critchley and Jamieson Webster.
Verso, 269 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 1 78168 256 2
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... In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche gives what Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster call a ‘fascinating short interpretation’ of Hamlet, from which they take their title. They don’t think much of the book up to that point: it’s when he gets to ...
31 October 1996
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time 
by Dava Sobel.
Fourth Estate, 184 pp., £12.99, August 1996, 1 85702 502 4
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... the rules, pushed their own favoured clients and methods, and requisitioned his clocks, then damaged or otherwise misused them. There were odious villains, such as the Astronomers Royal, James Bradley and Nevil Maskelyne, who used their Greenwich power base to orchestrate the conspiracy against Harrison. Maskelyne gloried in giving clockmakers ‘a bone to pick that would crack their teeth’. The ...

‘They got egg on their faces’

Leofranc Holford-Strevens: The Oxford English Dictionary

20 November 2003
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary 
by Simon​ Winchester.
Oxford, 260 pp., £12.99, October 2003, 0 19 860702 4
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... Like a Member of Parliament, I must declare an interest: I am employed by the publisher of both the OED and Simon Winchester’s account of its genesis. However, I have had no involvement with the latter, whose author’s qualities are well known to readers of his previous books, most relevantly The Surgeon of ...


Iain Sinclair: Swimming on the 52nd Floor

23 September 2015
... architects rather than borough engineers, had earlier won the commission for Haggerston Baths. The foundation stone was laid on 18 March 1903. The official opening was on 25 June 1904. Ian Gordon and Simon Inglis’s book Great Lengths: The Historic Indoor Swimming Pools of Britain tells us that E.J. Wakeling, vice chairman of the Shoreditch Baths and Washhouses Committee, animated the occasion by ...


Barbara Everett

31 March 1988
... culture at large. Victorian literary critics sometimes asked questions whose literalism makes them equally wrong-headed and useful. The practice is summarised in the mocking footnote we attach to Bradley: ‘How many children had Lady Macbeth?’ A similar topic, once much debated though now rarely reverted to, is: ‘How old, exactly, is Hamlet?’ The dimensions of the problem are these. The Prince ...

Who Are They?

Jenny Turner: The Institute of Ideas

8 July 2010
... curious clusters of former LM contributors now working in public science education. For example, according to Monbiot the educational charity Sense about Science – a prominent supporter of Simon Singh in his recent dispute with the British Chiropractic Association – has a former LMer for a managing director, and another one as her deputy; the director of the Science Media Centre is Fiona ...
16 August 1990
... in their attitudes. They worked to defend the rejection of Falstaff. In the course of time, they generated in opposition a series of essays implicitly radical in their attitudes. Looking back to Bradley’s very fine, essentially liberal, praise of Falstaff, Auden’s and Empson’s essays, for instance, like Orson Welles’s film, Chimes at Midnight, make a brilliant case, in different ways, for ...

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