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Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays

8 November 2018
... West End, where it remained until the seventh John Murray sold up in 2002. Here Murray’s built a list that included some of the best and most popular authors of their day, from Byron and Walter Scott to Patrick Leigh-Fermor and Freya Stark. It was Murray’s reputation for solid, conservative values that led both the geologist Charles Lyell and then Darwin to publish their potentially disruptive ...


Ruth Scurr: Foucault in the Bastille

14 December 2017
Disorderly Families: Infamous Letters from the Bastille Archives 
by Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault, edited by Nancy Luxon, translated by Thomas​ Scott-Railton.
Minnesota, 328 pp., £28.99, January 2017, 978 0 8166 9534 8
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... our project’ in the great flood of writing on Foucault. Gallimard reprinted Disorderly Families for the thirtieth anniversary of Foucault’s death, which led to this first English translation by ThomasScott-Railton, 34 years after the book was published in France ...

Three Poems

Hugo Williams

10 February 1994
... I sat there as usual, a fork in one hand, a knife in the other, and neatly, precisely, divided myself in two. The Fall My father lived in the Garden of Allah, an exotic, bungalow-style hotel which Thomas Wolfe told Scott Fitzgerald he could not believe existed, even in Hollywood. He was sacked by Paramount after serving only one year of a five-year contract when his first three films made the Critics ...

Shopping for Soap, Fudge and Biscuit Tins

John Pemble: Literary Tourists

7 June 2007
The Literary Tourist 
by Nicola J. Watson.
Palgrave, 244 pp., £45, October 2006, 1 4039 9992 9
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... monuments, the National Trust, Friends of this and that. It buys from Oxfam books like The Brontë Country, Dickens’s London, With Hardy in Dorset, Literary Bypaths of Old England, The Land of Scott. Academic libraries don’t cater for it, and academic critics have about as much regard for it as they have for Disney World or back numbers of Reader’s Digest. It’s been out of favour since at ...
16 July 1981
Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... Dr Davis’s book is a long, careful and detailed study of utopian writing in England from Sir Thomas More to the end of the 17th century. He has interesting things to say about well-known figures like More, Bacon, Winstanley and Harrington, but I found his chapters on lesser writers even more ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... hints of the life savoured by its great authors, from Dunbar to Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch. The heyday of its literary, cultural and philosophic life lasted for a hundred years to the death of Scott and left its mark on Europe and America. An ancient city, a capital, with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to James Boswell to Annie S. Swan, Sir Compton Mackenzie and a thousand others: the ...

Northern Laughter

Karl Miller: Macrone on Scott

9 October 2013
The Life of Sir Walter Scott 
by John Macrone, edited by Daniel Grader.
Edinburgh, 156 pp., £65, February 2013, 978 0 7486 6991 2
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... Students of the life and works of Walter Scott and James Hogg may have glimpsed the shadowy, not to say meteoric, not to say dubious presence of the publisher John Macrone, and learned of his prompt desire, after Scott’s death in September 1832 ...

A Joke Too Far

Colin Burrow: My Favourite Elizabethan

22 August 2002
Sir John Harington and the Book as Gift 
by Jason Scott-Warren.
Oxford, 273 pp., £45, August 2001, 0 19 924445 6
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... haunches, one of which laments that after 16 years of marriage Harington’s capacity for ‘occupation’ (slang for sex) has declined, and in another of which (translated from a Latin epigram by Thomas More, one of Harington’s early Tudor heroes) he has to leave out a word in order to avoid telling his mother-in-law to eat shit. Lady Rogers, unsurprisingly enough, did not make her son-in-law the ...

At the Queen’s Gallery

Inigo Thomas: David Hockney

2 March 2017
... as economic agent, their money or their debts. When Mark Carney announced that Turner would be on the next £20 note, he didn’t mention that Turner was a stock holder in the the Bank of England. Thomas Rowlandson was once a rake; in The Chamber of Genius he depicts a dishevelled artist at work at his easel in a chaotic room that is home to a wife, two children and their dog. Rowlandson died a rich ...

Short Cuts

Thomas​ Jones: National Poetry Day

5 October 2000
... talent). Whoever this ‘wit’ – 98 rhymes, including ‘Messerschmitt’, ‘Jesuit’ and ‘lickety-split’, and none of them obscene – may have been, he certainly erred in misquoting Thomas Edison (no rhymes), who suggested the ratio was 1 to 99, as we are reliably reminded in Science Says: A Collection of Quotations on the History, Meaning and Practice of Science, edited by Rob Kaplan ...

Alien Heat

Jonathan Gil Harris: ‘The Island Princess’

17 March 2016
The Island Princess 
by John Fletcher, edited by Clare McManus.
Arden, 338 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 1 904271 53 6
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... the reference to ‘maumet gods’ is of a piece with standard Protestant invective against idolatry. After the Reformation, ‘maumet’ began to be used as a derogatory epithet for Catholic idols: Thomas Becon, for example, complains of ‘antichristian monsters’ who teach people ‘to run a Pilgrimage to this and that Idol, to paint this tabernacle, and to gild that maumet’. The Island Princess ...

Erratic Star

Michael Foot

11 May 1995
Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas​ Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... They thought they could finish off poor John Stuart Mill, but they never succeeded, except in their own estimation. Now, however, we are faced with what may be an even more forlorn effort, to fold Thomas Carlyle to their collective bosom. It so happens that Carlyle had a famous quarrel with Mill, in which most observers would have favoured Mill. Something deep in Mill’s outlook offended Toryism ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones

8 November 2018
... sort of Kindle-in-waiting. And in the 1960s anyone who studied ancient Greek for A-level, as I did (the language of Callimachus, after all), was expected to buy a very big book indeed: Liddell and Scott’s monumental lexicon, big enough to afford the linguistic granularity you need to write Greek prose in the style of Demosthenes’ orations, with citations to corroborate every word used. A ...


Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas

14 June 2017
... to be true: a notice on the desk next to his computer monitor explained the dangers of perjuring yourself. Then we began to go through the details of the death certificate. Name: Hugh Swynnerton Thomas. Date of death: 7 May 2017. Your relation to him? Son. A few years ago, when I asked my father why he wasn’t going to the house in south-west France where he had for several summers spent a few ...


Charles Rzepka

21 March 1991
The Puritan-Provincial Vision: Scottish and American Literature in the 19th Century 
by Susan Manning.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £32.50, May 1990, 0 521 37237 2
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... these themes the author devotes a chapter. Before turning to literary examples, Manning traces the provincialising of Calvinist attitudes in the writings of David Hume, Jonathan Edwards, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others. Far from a mechanical application of rigid doctrinal categories, Manning’s thoughtful critique shows how contradictory attitudes can arise out of ...

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