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David Cannadine, 2 December 1982

Duchess: The Story of Wallis Warfield Windsor 
by Stephen Birmingham.
Macmillan, 287 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 34265 8
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The Duke of Windsor’s War 
by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £10.95, October 1982, 0 297 77947 8
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... tanned and more tired’. The latest contribution from the legion of dishonourers is Stephen Birmingham’s life of the Duchess. Macmillan assure us that the writer is ‘the well-known American popular historian’ (author of The Towers of Love, Heart Troubles and other classics), and that we are offered ‘a truly thoroughgoing ...
... belonging in that volume. It was commissioned originally by Barry Hanson, who was producing from Birmingham half-hour plays by new writers – hence the series title, ‘Second City Firsts’. A standard procedure in the commissioning of a play, especially one by an unknown author, is for a synopsis to be written and then, once the producer is satisfied that ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Anonymous and Abuse, 21 November 2019

... raising my head above the parapet to make the point that innocent people had been convicted of the Birmingham, Guildford, Woolwich and M62 bombings. I kept a box in my office labelled A & A (Anonymous and Abuse) in which such missives were deposited. Even now, ten years after my retirement and nearly thirty years after the release of the ...


Stephen Gray: In Johannesburg, 5 April 1990

... up another way. I’ve never much fancied heroes. Out with the Indian colonial bungaloid and the Birmingham pressed-steel; the plaster mouldings of diamonds in corduroy also go. Functional it will be, and business-like ... with a rest-room in front, for mothers to nurture more powerful babies to save this ...


Stephen Sedley: At the Courtroom, 5 March 1987

... being used to undercut a conviction. Something similar was attempted by the men jailed for the Birmingham pub bombing whose case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Home Secretary. After conviction, they sued both the Police and the Home Office for damages for the beatings which they have persistently said they suffered first on arrest ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... him for an interview, and natural negotiator that he is, he had matched me by requesting a lift to Birmingham New Street. While I drove him to his train, he spoke skittishly of the politicians with whom he had to treat. The sight of the Cannon cinema on the Hagley Road elicited a lively appreciation of the neglected art of the Western. A short time later, when ...


Stephen Sedley: On the Guildford Four, 9 November 1989

... innocence, there is little doubt that their appeal would have gone the same way as those of the Birmingham Six and the accused in the Carl Bridgewater case. When I reviewed Robert Kee’s book in the LRB in 1987, at a time when none of these references had reached the Court of Appeal, I commented on the psychological difference from the judicial point of ...


Stephen Sedley: Judge Dredd, 7 June 2007

... when I went on the bench (they had belonged to Leslie Scarman), and the lugubrious butler at the Birmingham lodgings remarked on this as he got me robed on my first day there. I said I wasn’t sorry. ‘Time you started topping them again if you ask me, my lord.’ Having to change into court dress is the more annoying for me because I’ve already changed ...

Victorian Piles

David Cannadine, 18 March 1982

The Albert Memorial: The Monument in its Social and Architectural Context 
by Stephen Bayley.
Scholar Press, 160 pp., £18.50, September 1981, 0 85967 594 7
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Victorian and Edwardian Town Halls 
by Colin Cunningham.
Routledge, 315 pp., £25, July 1981, 9780710007230
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... the Crossley and Ackroyd families at Halifax. Committees could be notoriously indecisive (as at Birmingham) or excessively penny-pinching (as at Preston). And competitions might be rigged (as at Bradford) or their results set aside (as at Glasgow). However much a town hall might be conceived as the embodiment of civic pride, its construction was often ...

Leaving it

Rosemary Ashton, 16 February 1989

John Henry Newman: A Biography 
by Ian Ker.
Oxford, 762 pp., £48, January 1989, 0 19 826451 8
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James Fitzjames StephenPortrait of a Victorian Rationalist 
by K.J.M. Smith.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £30, November 1988, 0 521 34029 2
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... indeed to contain two such different representatives as John Henry Newman and James Fitzjames Stephen. They shared a distrust of reform and democracy, a love of England, and a penchant for getting into controversy in print. Otherwise, they strike one as chalk and cheese, or ‘dog and fish’, as Newman put it, à propos of their one encounter, in ...


Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... from other members of the firm in the recent BBC 2 Bookmark programme on Green. Green’s time at Birmingham was clearly the basis of his lifelong loyalty to common life. This was nothing to do with any ideological commitment to classlessness. In a clip from an old black-and-white tape, Green firmly corrects the interviewer’s attempt to place him in the ...

In Memoriam

Paul Sieghart, 19 March 1981

by Mandy Rice-Davies and Shirley Flack.
Joseph, 224 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 7181 1974 6
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... with one Eugene Ivanov, then a Soviet naval attaché in London. Profumo had met Keeler through Dr Stephen Ward, with whom the girls had lived, off and on. Rumours began to circulate; the press got hold of the story; Profumo at first denied it, but later admitted it. Suddenly, the police began to investigate Ward; he was prosecuted, tried before Mr Justice ...

Dr Blair, the Leavis of the North

Terence Hawkes: English in Scotland, 18 February 1999

The Scottish Invention of English Literature 
edited by Robert Crawford.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 521 59038 8
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... who, as all O and A-level candidates know, endlessly, remorselessly, ‘develop’? Admittedly, Stephen Potter’s The Muse in Chains had offered to blow the gaff in 1937. But pell-mell postwar expansion, to say nothing of Potter’s decline into a chronicler of comfy national foibles, soon settled its hash. ‘English’ seemed to be just there: as natural ...

Big Ben

Stephen Fender, 18 September 1986

Franklin of Philadelphia 
by Esmond Wright.
Harvard, 404 pp., £21.25, May 1986, 0 674 31809 9
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... how then could Parliament tax them? (The same way they could tax the unrepresented citizens of Birmingham and Manchester, said the ebullient commissioner to the Board of Trade, Soame Jenyns in a pamphlet widely circulated in the year of the Stamp Act.) Or again, Parliament could levy external duties on the colonies, but not internal ...

A Boundary Where There Is None

Stephen Sedley: In Time of Meltdown, 12 September 2019

Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Profile, 128 pp., £9.99, August 2019, 978 1 78816 372 9
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... a microphone in a studio. No longer. This series was given to large invited audiences in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Washington DC and Cardiff, each lecture followed by a question and answer session and all of them transcribed and posted online by the BBC. In preparing his texts for book publication, while creditably resisting the temptation to footnote ...

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