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Narcissus and Cain

David Bromwich, 6 August 1992

Mary and Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft, Matilda by Mary Shelley 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 217 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 1 85196 023 6
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Lady Sophia Sternheim 
by Sophie von La Roche, edited by James Lynn.
Pickering & Chatto, 216 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 9781851960217
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... canvas, sometimes accompanied by a second, the dear and true or dear and forbidden friend. Whereas Sophie von La Roche’s novel is one long rout of balls, formal games, frank exchanges of opinion, serious and less serious viewings of the heroine of the middle rank by the members of the aristocracy into which she ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... Georgians were pavements, plate glass shop windows and streets lit at night. The German novelist Sophie von La Roche was in her fifties when she visited London and she had never seen anything like Oxford Street. ‘Just imagine,’ she wrote home in 1786, ‘a street taking half an hour to cover from end to end, with ...


John Mullan: Fanny Burney, 23 August 2001

Fanny Burney: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny Burney: Her Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... was firmly told that it would be ‘unwise and indiscreet’ to communicate with the German writer Sophie von la Roche, a new acquaintance. She was instructed by a senior courtier that she could see ‘no fresh person whatsoever without an express permission from the Queen’. Davenport’s account confirms the worst ...

Fatal Non-Readers

Hilary Mantel: Marie-Antoinette, 30 September 1999

The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette 
by Chantal Thomas, translated by Julie Rose.
Zone, 255 pp., £17.95, June 1999, 0 942299 39 6
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... the constant intriguers and gossips were the King’s unmarried aunts, Adelaide, Victoire and Sophie (who had been known to Louis XV as Snip, Piggy and Rag.) For the anti-Austrian party, Antoinette was the power to be destroyed, the natural target of attack. Her mother the Empress kept her under double surveillance. Each month a courier left for Vienna ...

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