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At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: John White’s New World

5 April 2007
... A few facts about White’s life can be gleaned from accounts of early voyages to America. He himself seems to have made five of them. He very probably sailed with the 1584 expedition promoted by SirWalterRaleigh to reconnoitre sites for an English colony. He was certainly one of the party of five or six hundred men (about one hundred of them colonists) who went back in 1585. It was on that ...

Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter​ Ralegh

6 July 2000
The Letters of Sir Walter​ Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... if His Majesty was so committed to the worthy aim of the elimination of piracy, what better way could there be of demonstrating that commitment than bringing to justice the notorious pirate SirWalter Ralegh? Gondomar had already returned to Spain by the time of Ralegh’s execution in October (he couldn’t stand the British climate), but it was widely seen as his work. He had, quite unwittingly ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Not by Henry James

23 September 2004
... he didn’t want to be acknowledged as the author of his less good work? Or is it simply the case that ‘Belle Million’ has to be included because it’s one of several stories by ‘Leslie Walter’, which Horowitz is convinced is James’s favourite pseudonym? The 25 stories in The Uncollected Henry James ‘were chosen’, Horowitz says in his foreword, ‘as a sampling of James’s ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy

14 December 2006
Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... in the queen’s service. We do not know what that was. There are two plausible suggestions on the table. One is that he went to Paris with his fellow Corpus man, Nicholas Faunt, who worked in Sir Francis Walsingham’s office and had gone there to look into the doings of the English ambassador. The other, floated by Riggs, is that he may have been sent to the Spanish Netherlands in connection ...
19 March 1981
Thirty Seconds 
by Michael Arlen.
Farrar, Straus/Faber, 211 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 27576 9
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The Crystal Bucket 
by Clive James.
Cape, 238 pp., £6.95, February 1981, 0 224 01890 6
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The Message of Television 
by Roger Silverstone.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £14.50, March 1981, 0 435 82825 8
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... of the relative strengths of publishing and broadcasting. Each of them is a bookish book in its way. One is academic. One is by a very literary-minded critic (and draws its title from a poem by SirWalterRaleigh). One is a piece of vivid journalism recognisably in the tradition of Norman Mailer and other modern American writers. All these books are from literary stables. Michael Arlen’s first ...

The Dollar Tree

Tobias Jones

11 December 1997
Hand To Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 436 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 571 17149 4
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... him and his manhood’). His films are more concerned with the business of storytelling dun his essayistic fiction, and less transfixed by the problem of the author. The tale, told in Smoke, about SirWalterRaleigh trying to measure the weight of the clouds of smoke produced by burning tobacco (he weighs the smoking apparatus before and after) combines all the classic Auster elements: the ...
24 November 1994
A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908-1918 
by Robert Wohl.
Yale, 320 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05778 4
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... was wheeled out it was manhandled and a demonstrator with a knife advanced on the impious aviator, who was escorted away under a shower of stones. This story is to be found in The War in the Air by SirWalterRaleigh, who also tells how a British officer in Argentina was stoned for refusing to fly. The fuss that the French made over Blériot had much to do with their pique at seeing the American ...


Kenneth Fowler

13 June 1991
Ways of Lying: Dissimulation and Conformity in Early Modern Europe 
by Perez Zagorin.
Harvard, 337 pp., £27.95, September 1990, 0 674 94834 3
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Lucrecia’s Dreams: Politics and Prophecy in 16th-Century Spain 
by Richard Kagan.
California, 229 pp., £24.95, July 1990, 0 520 06655 3
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‘In his Image and Likeness’: Political Iconography and Religious Change in Regenshurg, 1500-1600 
by Kristin Zapalac.
Cornell, 280 pp., $29.95, October 1990, 0 8014 2269 8
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... because of hostility there towards the Jesuits. Zagorin may go too far in attributing dissimulation to some of the occultists, libertines and unbelievers whom he sees hiding behind esotericism (SirWalterRaleigh is a case in point), but his central thesis of the pervasiveness of dissimulation in 16th and 17th-century Europe is certain to stand. While few would argue with his view that Calvin’s ...


Gillian Bennett: Self-impersonation

3 November 2005
The Woman who Pretended to Be who She Was: Myths of Self-Impersonation 
by Wendy Doniger.
Oxford, 272 pp., £17.99, January 2005, 0 19 516016 9
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... to the same sorts of fate. In Britain, ‘The Tragic Mistake’ seems to have begun its life in the troubled days of James I and is often appended to accounts of the capture and execution of SirWalterRaleigh after his return from the Orinoco in 1618. More than three hundred years later in Germany, a related tale was told about a soldier returning home in the desperate days following defeat in ...


E.S. Turner

25 June 1987
The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh​ Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... in July 1923, my mother was carried on a litter or “dandy” to the hospital by two murderers. My first ayah was a Burmese murderess called Mimi. Our servants were murderers.’ I do not recall Raleigh Trevelyan slipping this information into the lunchtime conversation when he was my publisher (a very helpful and tolerant one – interest duly declared). He was born in the Andaman Islands, the ...

Farewell Sovereignty

Stephen Sedley: The Case for the Regicides

9 February 2006
The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold 
by Geoffrey Robertson.
Chatto, 429 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7011 7602 4
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... The bald answer in each case has been the same: the authority of the power that has supplanted yours. Robertson embarked on this project as a result of an evening in 1999 when the Australian judge Sir Michael Kirby delivered a lecture in the hall of Gray’s Inn to mark the 350th anniversary of Charles’s execution. Kirby, one of the common law’s great jurists, was not unsympathetic to the ...

Lust for Leaks

Neal Ascherson: The Cockburns of Cork

1 September 2005
The Broken Boy 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Cape, 312 pp., £15.99, June 2005, 0 224 07108 4
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... don’t see why disbelief should be a barrier to religious bigotry.’ Next door to St Mary’s, behind locked gates, is Myrtle Grove, thought to be the oldest non-fortified private house in Ireland. SirWalterRaleigh lived here, while briefly mayor of Youghal. Edmund Spenser passed many hours in its panelled drawing-room, and is supposed to have written part of The Faerie Queene in the window seat ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi

14 May 2009
Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... Clifford began his fine 1942 biography with the observation that ‘today, even in the perspective of over a century, she still arouses ardent admiration or intense dislike.’ His fellow Johnsonians SirWalterRaleigh and A.E. Newton were also admirers (Newton, in an essay entitled ‘A Light-Blue Stocking’, wrote that Hester was the female writer he would most like to meet because, ever ...
5 January 1989
Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Oxford, 205 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812980 7
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Representing the English Renaissance 
edited by Stephen Greenblatt.
California, 372 pp., $42, February 1988, 0 520 06129 2
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... an ‘appropriation’ has taken place, a ‘transfer of possession and exorcism from sacred to profane representation’. One is reminded of the argument of the late Frances Yates, popularised by Sir Roy Strong, about the replacement of the image of the Virgin Mary by that of the Virgin Queen. This brief summary does less than justice to the richness of Greenblatt’s interpretation, or to his ...

From Victim to Suspect

Stephen Sedley: The Era of the Trial

21 July 2005
The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson 
by Sadakat Kadri.
HarperCollins, 474 pp., £25, April 2005, 0 00 711121 5
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... Justice Robert Jackson, the US prosecutor, was in consequence able to describe the trial as ‘one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason’, and the British prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross, to say without blushing: ‘There are those who would perhaps say that these wretched men should have been dealt with summarily without trial . . . But that was not the view of ...

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