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Boy’s Own

Erika Hagelberg: Adam, Eve and genetics

20 November 2003
The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Astonishing Story that Reveals How Each of Us Can Trace Our Genetic Ancestors 
by Bryan Sykes.
Corgi, 368 pp., £6.99, May 2002, 0 552 14876 8
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Mapping Human History: Unravelling the Mystery of Adam and Eve 
by Steve Olson.
Bloomsbury, 293 pp., £7.99, July 2003, 0 7475 6174 5
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The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey 
by Spencer Wells.
Penguin, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2003, 0 14 100832 6
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... for framing, identifying their maternal ancestor. Oxford Ancestors also offers Y-chromosome tests, so that male customers can identify their paternal lineage. The Y chromosome – the subject of SpencerWells’s The Journey of Man – is the genetic structure, passed from fathers to sons, that determines maleness. It is relatively large and complicated, and it took scientists quite a time to find ...
10 October 1991
The Charge of the Parasols: Women’s Entry to the Medical Profession 
by Catriona Blake.
Women’s Press, 254 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 0 7043 4239 1
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Women under the Knife: A History of Surgery 
by Ann Dally.
Radius, 289 pp., £18.99, April 1991, 9780091745080
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The Science of Woman: Gynaecology and Gender in England, 1800-1929 
by Ornella Moscucci.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £35, April 1991, 0 521 32741 5
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... it, and clitoridectomy seems thereafter to have been largely discredited in Britain, though it flourished in the United States well into the 1920s. In 1891 the eminent British surgeon, Thomas SpencerWells, expressed his outrage at this state of affairs in images which no contemporary feminist could have bettered. He denounced the ‘gynaecological proletarians’ who performed ovariotomies on ...
6 December 1979
... of Modernism with reaction, but in making a single exhibition of such disparate material the organisers have also managed to neutralise much of what they show. Buildings like those of Lubetkin or Wells Coates, for instance, were presented as solutions, not creations, and to suggest, as the exhibition must, that other conventions have equal validity undermines the fragile logic that supported their ...

Too late to die early

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Virginia Woolf and Harriet Martineaun in the sick room

5 February 2004
Life in the Sick-Room 
by Harriet Martineau, edited by Maria Frawley.
Broadview, 260 pp., £8.99, March 2003, 1 55111 265 5
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On Being Ill 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Hermione Lee.
Paris Press, 28 pp., £15, October 2002, 1 930464 06 1
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... tumour served for Greenhow – and most of the other doctors who joined the debate – as conclusive proof that her faith in mesmeric treatment was an illusion. Later that same month, Thomas SpencerWells, a prominent specialist in ovarian diseases, delivered a lecture on the case to the Clinical Society of London, in which he described the growth itself – displayed for the audience together ...

Sidney and Beatrice

Michael Holroyd

25 October 1979
A Victorian Courtship: The Story of Beatrice Potter and Sidney Webb 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £5.50
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...  if only it is not a case of Titania and Bottom!’ The courtship of this super-extraordinary pair – ‘two active self-centred people, excessively devoted to the public cause,’ as H.G. Wells characterised them in The New Machiavelli – was the oddest romance in the Fabian calendar and a triumph for Sidney’s policy of gradualism. Beatrice was 34 at the time of their marriage and ...

The Sun-Bather

Michael Neve

3 July 1980
Havelock Ellis 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Allen Lane, 492 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7139 1071 2
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... by the 19th-century intelligentsia share a common aim: to replicate, as far as possible, the achievements and accuracies of the natural sciences. This is as true of the tedious volumes of Herbert Spencer, who needed a special chair, fitted with nails, to stop him falling asleep, as it is of Marxism. It holds, too, for the spate of scientific programmes, many of them German in origin, that were laid ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: My Olympics

30 August 2012
... of Empress Coaches is a nest of anarchic, free-spirited narrowboats. One of these, the most piratical, proudly flying its Jolly Roger, is a coffin-sized craft belonging to a researcher called Mike Wells. He has made it his business, despite numerous brushes with security guards and large dogs, to record and report every stage of the recent enclosures. He helped to commission two substantial ...

Getting on

Paul Addison

9 October 1986
On Living in an Old Country 
by Patrick Wright.
Verso, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1985, 0 86091 833 5
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Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Vol. II: Assaults 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 25959 2
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... in the Anglican Church sets the scene for all that follows. Next come the Victorian positivists, assaulting traditional Christianity in the name of science and the religion of progress: Buckle, Spencer, Huxley and Morley among others. After about 1880 we pass into the company of a third group whose most prominent figures include Shaw, Wells, Lawrence and Russell. They form, Cowling explains, a ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater

3 January 2002
... In The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells’s Martians had the good sense to make landfall near Woking. ‘Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and the night after, about midnight, and again the night after; and so for ten nights ...

Desmondism

John Sutherland

23 March 1995
Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 474 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7181 3641 1
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... of the modern age. But one might also wonder whether the peculiar abbreviation of the biographical account is designed to sanitise our view of Huxley. It was in his last years that he became, with Spencer, the populariser of vulgar Darwinism and its crude applications to social and ethnic conflict. If one were to take the whole picture, rather than the three-quarter length portrait that Desmond gives ...
24 April 1997
Huxley: Evolution’s High Priest 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 372 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 7181 3882 1
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... for one languid poseur, each student sits upright at his desk, microscope by the left elbow, pencil at the right. The image is smudged; one has a skull beside him, one may be a woman, one may be H.G. Wells. They are looking up at the camera; after the shutter has closed they will look down their microscopes and see what they are told to see, for microscopy is a mystery and Huxley its magus. In the ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... canvasses such as The Nek and The Battle of Romani as well as smaller oils: Motion earlier compares their ‘crafty mingling of accurate observation with metaphorical form’ to the work of Stanley Spencer. Motion is usually perceptive in his sometimes quite elaborate commentaries on paintings (looking at the reproduction of A Sergeant of the Light Horse, I wouldn’t agree, though, with either part of ...

Oh for the oo tray

William Feaver: Edward Burra

13 December 2007
Edward Burra: Twentieth-Century Eye 
by Jane Stevenson.
Cape, 496 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 07875 7
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... frisking pictures for personal disclosures. Yet of all 20th-century British artists, Burra was the one who gossiped most in his art, devilling away at the details like another Dadd. Where Stanley Spencer laced his Cookham scenes with the Song of Solomon and Havelock Ellis, forever explicating in spidery handwriting, Burra made his Burra-Burra pictures speak for themselves – i.e. for him – without ...

Modernisms

Frank Kermode

22 May 1986
Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement 
by C.K. Stead.
Macmillan, 393 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 333 37457 6
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The Myth of Modernism and 20th-century Literature 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Harvester, 216 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7108 1002 4
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The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts 
by Roger Shattuck.
Faber, 362 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 571 12071 7
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... about the death camps, and anyway the remark sounds as if Pound was merely sorry he had been caught out doing something that made him seem a bit déclassé. Bergonzi discusses Bloomsbury or Bennett, Wells or Wyndham Lewis, Davie or Fredric Jameson, in the same informed, unassertive tone; the most memorable essay is actually an attack on Terry Eagleton, but the manner remains moderate even as the ...
7 October 1982
... have seemed a comic disproportion: ‘old George’ was simply one of the boys who had a very lucky break with one book – disc recordings for the archive were only set up for the very great, like Wells and Shaw, or for people absolutely assured of a permanent place in the history of English letters, like Sir Max Beerbohm and J. B. Priestley. Orwell’s privacy was not pathological, it was perfectly ...

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