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The Sovereign Weapon

Francis FitzGibbon: The Old Bailey, 5 March 2020

Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain 
by Thomas Grant.
John Murray, 448 pp., £10.99, April, 978 1 4736 5163 0
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... Thomas Grant’s​ Court Number One tells the stories of 11 prominent trials heard in Court One of the Old Bailey between 1907, when it opened, and 2003. His aim is to use these stories as illustrations of ‘British sensibilities and preoccupations over the last hundred years … Through the criminal trials … there can be traced at least one version of the history of social and moral change over the last century ...

Green Films

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 April 1982

Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage 
by Stanley Cavell.
Harvard, 283 pp., £12.25, December 1981, 0 674 73905 1
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... Cary Grant sits down at a table with Ralph Bellamy and Irene Dunne in 1937 and says: ‘So you two are going to get married.’ It is The Awful Truth. Grant sits down at a table with Bellamy and Rosalind Russell in 1940 and says again: ‘So you two are going to get married.’ It is His Girl Friday ...
Selected Poems 1964-1983 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 262 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14619 8
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Terry Street 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, November 1986, 0 571 09713 8
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Selected Poems 1968-1983 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 109 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 571 14603 1
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Essential Reading 
by Peter Reading and Alan Jenkins.
Secker, 230 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 436 40988 7
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Stet 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 40 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 436 40989 5
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... curiously, only 21 are included here) have been compared by Robert Nye to the poems written by Thomas Hardy after the death of his wife, and by Jonathan Raban to In Memoriam. The subject is a precarious one for poetry, and Dunn has not always succeeded in avoiding the pitfalls. Poems like ‘Dining’ and ‘Arrangements’ are dangerously direct; Dunn’s ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... by seeing the play at Basingstoke’s Haymarket Theatre, which recently lost its Arts Council grant and has closed down. I remember very little about the production except that the actors were wearing heavy woollen costumes, which were no doubt suitable garb for an 11th-century Scottish castle but looked uncomfortably hot and itchy under the stage ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke, 18 March 2004

... from the audience. The exchange was mediated by Ross Kemp, the ersatz hard man who used to play Grant Mitchell in EastEnders and is married to Rebekah Wade, the editor of the Sun. Kemp congratulated the heckler on having exercised her freedom of speech, then told her to get out. ‘And I thought I was hard,’ Campbell said. Someone asked if he was still ...

Leave them weeping

Colin Grant: Frederick Douglass, 1 August 2019

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 
by David Blight.
Simon and Schuster, 892 pp., £30, November 2018, 978 1 4165 9031 6
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... plantation to be shared out between the dead man’s relatives. In 1834, Douglass’s new master, Thomas Auld, a mean ‘object of contempt’, believing his authority was being challenged by his insolent teenage slave, handed him over ‘to be broken’ by an overseer called Edward Covey. ‘Mr Covey succeeded in breaking me,’ Douglass wrote, ‘in ...

Hitting the buffers

Peter Wollen, 8 September 1994

Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe 1900-1916 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 318 pp., £27.50, April 1994, 0 19 811746 9
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... stage pioneer, who had just founded his Théâtre du Vieux Colombier in Paris, wrote to Duncan Grant asking him to prepare the costumes and design for an innovative production of Twelfth Night. Grant completed the commission, using fabrics from the Omega Workshop for the costumes, and went over to Paris the following ...

On Saving the Warburg

Charles Hope, 4 December 2014

... His first idea was to attach the Warburg to the Victoria and Albert Museum, financed by a grant in aid, a proposal rejected by a senior civil servant at the Treasury, who pointed out that ‘if a grant in aid to the Warburg Institute were to be proposed to Parliament, it would be asked who or what is the ...

Universities under Attack

Keith Thomas, 15 December 2011

... hurry, its divided aims.’ It was a time when students were publicly funded and when the Treasury grant to universities was distributed by the University Grants Committee, largely made up of academics and working at arm’s length from the government; they understood what universities needed and they ruled with a light touch, distributing block grants and ...

Liquid Fiction

Thomas Jones: Francis Spufford, 25 April 2002

The Child that Books Built: A Memoir of Childhood and Reading 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 214 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 571 19132 0
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A Child’s Book of True Crime: A Novel 
by Chloe Hooper.
Cape, 238 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 0 224 06237 9
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... the Psammead, or sand fairy, a creature that looks a bit like a monkey with eyes on stalks, can grant a wish a day and hates getting wet. In The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904), the children discover a flying carpet that can take them anywhere in the world: its daily allowance is three wishes. The Phoenix, like the Psammead, is of an awkward but basically ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward ThomasSelected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

My Father’s War

Gillian Darley, 5 December 2013

... I’d depended on the History of ‘A’ Battery, 84th Army Brigade, RFA 1914-18 by Major D.F. Grant MC (1922). Unusually, the major had commanded the battery throughout, making him paterfamilias to his small group, at most three hundred men, among them my father. Lieut. R. Darley turns up in his pages quite a bit. Once, ingloriously, he unloads munitions ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle, 5 August 2004

The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and sentenced by him to hang as a rebel and a homicide. The saint was Thomas de Cantilupe, former bishop of Hereford, who had died in 1282. From soon after his death posthumous miracles had begun to be attributed to him, and he was officially canonised by Pope John XXII in 1320. The story, in outline, runs thus. On the morning of ...

Call me Ismail

Thomas Jones: Wu Ming, 18 July 2013

Altai 
by Wu Ming, translated by Shaun Whiteside.
Verso, 263 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 1 78168 076 6
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... looking back from 1555. A student at Wittenberg, he becomes a follower of the radical theologian Thomas Müntzer after witnessing a dispute between Müntzer and Martin Luther; Luther Blissett is very much not on his namesake’s side. The narrator’s story begins a few years later, in medias res, at Frankenhausen on 15 May 1525, when Philip of Hesse’s ...

Collectivism

Richard Jenkyns, 3 April 1997

Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity 
by Dianne Sachko Macleod.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £65, October 1996, 0 521 55090 4
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... at whose table there was only bottled beer to drink, and no pudding followed the meat; devout Thomas Combe, whose patronage of the Pre-Raphaelites was part and parcel of his High Churchmanship (it was he who commissioned Holman Hunt’s Light of the World); the obsessive Thomas Plint, whose death at the age of 38 left ...

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