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Reading Cure

John Sutherland, 10 November 1988

The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals. Vol. IV: 1824-1900 
edited by Walter Houghton, Esther Rhoads Houghton and Jean Harris Slingerland.
Toronto/Routledge, 826 pp., £95, January 1988, 0 7102 1442 1
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Circulation: Defoe, Dickens and the Economies of the Novel 
by David Trotter.
Macmillan, 148 pp., £27.50, October 1988, 0 333 40542 0
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From Copyright to Copperfield 
by Alexander Welsh.
Harvard, 200 pp., £19.95, December 1987, 0 674 32342 4
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... The Wellesley Index originated in its founding editor Walter Houghton’s The Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870 (1957), a manual which was influential among students of the Sixties. Houghton’s book took as its starting-point the fact of a collective Victorian mentality – a kind of public overmind ...


Peter Clarke, 21 September 1995

LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Oxford, 584 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 19 820240 7
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... even about the adequacy as a love nest of the ‘bathroom’ appropriated by Mair in the new Houghton Street building. Rather than an affair, Dahrendorf suggests, this was ‘symbiosis’ and, respectful of the Webbs’ symmetrical relationship between equals, he even hesitates to say ‘partnership’. Maybe. One nice vignette is of Mair using a ...

Baring his teeth

Peter Clarke, 25 June 1992

The Macmillans: The Story of a Dynasty 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 17502 1
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... his only son, Malcolm, born on the bonny banks of Lochranza, the beauty of which inspired Sir Walter Scott to the curmudgeonly reflection that ‘wake where’er he may, man wakes to care and toil.’ So it proved with the Macmillans. Malcolm prospered though hard work on his poor land, becoming a tacks man, a kulak among crofters, who served as an elder ...

Hardy’s Misery

Samuel Hynes, 4 December 1980

The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. 2 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 309 pp., £17.50, October 1980, 0 19 812619 0
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... English Man of Letters, someone who might have written the works of, say, Edmund Gosse, or Walter Besant. But a career is not a life. There was another private story in those earlier years – of a failed marriage and an unhappy wife, of childlessness and estrangement and despair. That story scarcely enters the letters, because Hardy was determined to ...

All the Advantages

C.H. Sisson, 3 July 1980

Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings 
by Richard Kennedy.
Norton, 529 pp., £12, May 1980, 0 87140 638 1
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... his son a Unitarian name, Estlin, which is associated also, though indirectly, with the family of Walter Bagehot. Both father and mother were of old New England stock, the mother the ‘better’ of the two, though her father went to prison for a family forgery. Edward Cummings’s grandfather was a tavern-keeper. However, neither the forger nor the ...

D.H. Lawrence and Gilbert Noon

Michael Black, 4 October 1984

... Emmy Bostock has long before taken the precaution of being engaged to a mild young bank-clerk, Walter George Whiffen. Harassed by her vengeful father, she flees to relatives in another village and takes to her bed with ‘neuralgia of the stomach’. Is she pregnant? Walter George, appealed to, appears consolingly at the ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis, 18 March 1999

Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... Lit, sometime PI and full-time avatar of the author) has plenty of superficial similarities to Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins project. Both men have received support from sharp-witted British independent presses. Mosley from Serpent’s Tail and Sallis from No Exit Press. Both men had early champions and a serious readership on this side of the ...

Bitchy Little Spinster

Joanne O’Leary: Queens of Amherst, 3 June 2021

After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet 
by Julie Dobrow.
Norton, 448 pp., £13.99, January 2020, 978 0 393 35749 3
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... might repel publishers’. Despite their attempts to render her work ‘accessible’, Houghton Mifflin, the first publisher they approached, rejected the manuscript. The poems ‘were much too queer – the rhymes were all wrong.’ David reported that ‘they thought Higginson must be losing his mind to recommend such stuff.’ Next, they ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... is himself an experienced military man. Jimmy Carter, Annapolis graduate, is just that.’ Walter Mondale, in 1984, set out to attack Ronald Reagan on Star Wars: ‘Mondale,’ the advert said, ‘an army man, senator on the National Security Council, vice-president. He knows the world for the tough place it is.’ But Reagan had a plan to outspend the ...


Mark Ford: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts, 19 June 2014

The Gorgeous Nothings 
by Emily Dickinson.
New Directions, 255 pp., £26.50, October 2013, 978 0 8112 2175 7
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The Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping 
by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire.
Readux, 64 pp., £3, October 2013, 978 3 944801 00 1
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... is so delicately slanted that it recalls not Tennyson, nor its ostensible subject Walter de la Mare, but Saint Emily of Amherst: Walter de la Mare died 1956 the year of the hungarian uprising so he won’t read my old-fashioned poems Was he a Londoner? Did he live in the country? Why had we to lose him in ...

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