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Andrew O’Hagan: Scotland's hirsute folk hero, 17 August 2006

... Thomas Sheridan, the father of the more famous Richard Brinsley Sheridan, devoted himself in the 1760s to ‘rubbing away the roughnesses of the Scottish tongue’. His volume of Lectures on Elocution was once a great hit in Edinburgh. The other Thomas Sheridan, known as Tommy to the tabloids and to friends and enemies alike, is the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, and his efforts to represent himself in a defamation case against the News of the World has been providing the city with a theatrical spectacle the Edinburgh Festival will struggle to equal ...

Stewed, roasted, baked or boiled

Claude Rawson, 6 August 1992

The Intelligencer 
by Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan, edited by James Woolley.
Oxford, 363 pp., £50, March 1992, 0 19 812670 0
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Jonathan Swift: A Literary Life 
by Joseph McMinn.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £35, May 1991, 9780333485842
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... summer, and a single further number in May 1729. It was written by Jonathan Swift and his friend Thomas Sheridan, a clergyman, schoolteacher and man of letters, and grandfather of the playwright. It includes at least two of Swift’s important works, his critique of the Beggar’s Opera in No 3, and a reprint of the ‘Short View of the State of ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley SheridanA Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... Fintan O’Toole’s publishers announce that Richard Brinsley Sheridan has been generally ill-served by biographers, ‘who rehash the familiar outlines of his story every decade or so without bringing any intelligent new insights to the task’. By contrast, O’Toole has written a ‘gripping, carefully composed exploration of Sheridan’s career ...

Was Swift a monster?

Denis Donoghue, 5 June 1986

Jonathan Swift: A Hypocrite Reversed 
by David Nokes.
Oxford, 427 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 19 812834 7
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... have been a monster: think of the diverse affections he inspired in Pope, Addison, Bolingbroke, Thomas Sheridan, Delany, Arbuthnot, Gay, many other men and at least a few women. In the end, Nokes praises Swift’s ‘essential honesty and humanity that made him prefer to seem a monster rather than a hypocrite’. It’s still not clear to me why he is ...

Call Her Daisy-Ray

John Sturrock: Accents and Attitudes, 11 September 2003

Talking Proper: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol 
by Lynda Mugglestone.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 2003, 0 19 925061 8
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... In 1759, one of the leading figures in what Mugglestone calls the ‘prescriptive crusade’, Thomas Sheridan, father of the playwright (and an Irishman), is to be found giving an intensive course of lectures in the Sheldonian, cost one guinea, ‘on ELOCUTION, and the ENGLISH LANGUAGE (so far only as relates to elocution)’. The professional ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... be described as group biography, since the principals have to share top billing with Mrs Inchbald, Sheridan, Thomas Lawrence and Mrs Jordan. There is a curious line of contact between several of these figures: four of them were the subjects of biographies by James Boaden (1762-1839), who happened also to edit Garrick’s ...

Carry up your Coffee boldly

Thomas Keymer: Jonathan Swift, 17 April 2014

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 573 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 16499 2
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Parodies, Hoaxes, Mock Treatises: ‘Polite Conversation’, ‘Directions to Servants’ and Other Works 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Cambridge, 821 pp., £85, July 2013, 978 0 521 84326 3
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Journal to Stella: Letters to Esther Johnson and Rebecca Dingley, 1710-13 
by Jonathan Swift, edited by Abigail Williams.
Cambridge, 800 pp., £85, December 2013, 978 0 521 84166 5
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... awful’. Early memoirists take us further with Swift’s character, but only so far. His godson Thomas Sheridan recalled that ‘he always appeared to the world in a mask, which he never took off but in the company of his most intimate friends.’ Yet this unmasking, such as it was, only seems to have confused things further. The most memorable ...

Too Many Pears

Thomas Keymer: Frances Burney, 27 August 2015

The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney 1786-91, Vols III-IV: 1788 
edited by Lorna Clark.
Oxford, 824 pp., £225, September 2014, 978 0 19 968814 2
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... vanish from the title pages. The earliest, weightiest defence of the book came from Thomas Macaulay: his counterblast to Croker in the Whig Edinburgh Review was written to settle a private score, but he was sincere in his admiration. He found in the diary the same qualities of observation that in 1778 had made Evelina, in his view, the first ...

Plenty of Pinching

John Mullan: The Sad End of Swift, 29 October 1998

Jonathan Swift 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 324 pp., £20, September 1998, 0 09 179196 0
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... from such lacerating anger. Johnson relied on the suspect testimony of the ardent Whig clergyman Thomas Birch, his source for the story that Swift’s servants charged for admission to view him. ‘And Swift expires, a driveller and a show,’ Johnson wrote in The Vanity of Human Wishes. Birch was another of those witnesses who derived some twisted ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... 1773; the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and George Colman were already members and Richard Brinsley Sheridan would be admitted a few years later. The Club wasn’t just full of luvvies; it began with quite serious purposes and ambitions. With his rancorous first biographer, John Hawkins (Johnson coined the term ‘unclubbable’ for Hawkins, who after a few ...

Cough up

Thomas Keymer: Henry Fielding, 20 November 2008

Plays: Vol. II, 1731-34 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Thomas Lockwood.
Oxford, 865 pp., £150, October 2007, 978 0 19 925790 4
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‘The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon’, ‘Shamela’ and ‘Occasional Writings’ 
by Henry Fielding, edited by Martin Battestin, with Sheridan Baker and Hugh Amory.
Oxford, 804 pp., £150
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... nowhere more than in the comedies and farces of the 1730s, eight of which appear in this volume of Thomas Lockwood’s edition of Fielding’s drama. A third and final volume of plays is in preparation, and will complete the Wesleyan Edition of the Works of Henry Fielding – a heroic project, begun in the 1960s, which has now outlived all but three members of ...

Churchill’s Faces

Rosemary Hill, 30 March 2017

... best catches that plasticity in an image that recalls the similarly sandy and baby-faced Dylan Thomas. Churchill’s longest-lasting, albeit stormy, artistic relationship was with his cousin, the sculptor Clare Sheridan, who first made a head of him in 1919. Even for her he wouldn’t sit still for more than a few ...

Poland’s Poet

Alan Sheridan, 17 December 1981

Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition 
by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Catherine Leach.
Sidgwick, 300 pp., £8.95, July 1981, 0 283 98782 0
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The Issa Valley 
by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Louis Iribarne.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 283 98762 6
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... a kind of northern Eden, from which he has been twice excluded. The book ends with the 14-year-old Thomas leaving his beloved valley for the city and school. In fact, history, politics, had finally intervened, making the presence of Polish nationals increasingly uncomfortable in an independent Lithuania quarrelling with Poland over Wilno. But the valley was ...

A Mile or Two outside Worthing

Richard Jenkyns: Edward Trelawny, 26 November 1998

Lord Byron’s Jackal: A Life of Trelawny 
by David Crane.
HarperCollins, 398 pp., £19.99, July 1998, 0 00 255631 6
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... from Paris to Geneva and the Alps, where he made some new friends, among them Shelley’s cousin, Thomas Medwin. Shelley and his dependants had themselves been floating from one Italian town to another, from Milan to Bagni di Lucca, Venice, Naples, Rome, Leghorn and Florence, reaching Pisa early in 1820. Two years later, Trelawny joined them there. For ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... Caroline may have been another. It’s possible that her father was the playwright and politician Thomas Brinsley Sheridan. Such parentage would be far more in accordance with Caroline’s character and behaviour than that of her official father. Douglass finds the balance of evidence against it, yet it remains an ...

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