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Afternoons

William Bedford, 7 November 1985

... The sea froze that winter. The shallow tidal run rippled over the shores and then froze to a solid sheet. Ice formed on the groynes and the metal struts of the pier. The bait diggers had to break through two inches of ice to dig for the buried lugworms. It was the coldest winter for decades, and the men on the lockpit had to work shifts to prevent the harbour gates freezing ...

Asking too much

Stephen Wall, 22 February 1990

Lust, and Other Stories 
by Susan Minot.
Heinemann, 147 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434467570
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In Transit 
by Mavis Gallant.
Faber, 229 pp., £12.99, February 1990, 0 571 14212 5
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The Perfect Place 
by Sheila Kohler.
Cape, 148 pp., £11.95, February 1990, 0 224 02748 4
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Howling at the moon 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 174 pp., £10.95, February 1990, 0 09 469590 3
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Happiland 
by William Bedford.
Heinemann, 186 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 9780434055593
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... of strain, and the balance between observation and explanation remains uneasy. The Happiland of William Bedford’s first novel is a fairground in a fishing port on the North-Eastern coast, and it’s also the lost world of Harry Kelam’s youth, back in the Fifties. The novel is a period piece – one of Harry’s most significant experiences is the ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 13 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... convoys of motor vehicles. ‘You never travelled with your suitcase,’ a grandson of the Duke of Bedford recalled – ‘that was not the thing to do.’ Guests at the duke’s seat, Woburn Abbey, were accordingly conveyed the fifty miles from London with the aid of four cars and eight staff to house parties where, as John Galsworthy wrote in 1931, time as ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 7 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of talking, a particular mannerism that the sixth Duke of ...

Royal Panic Attack

Colin Kidd: James VI and I, 16 June 2011

King James VI and I and His English Parliaments 
by Conrad Russell, edited by Richard Cust and Andrew Thrush.
Oxford, 195 pp., £55, February 2011, 978 0 19 820506 7
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... and most revealing – pieces was his long essay in the DNB on Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford, a leading early Stuart politician, who died in 1641. Given the ‘eclectic’ character of Bedford’s religious preferences, which are best characterised as Calvinist Episcopalian, and the amphibious nature of his ...

Metropolitan Miscreants

Matthew Bevis: Victorian Bloomsbury, 4 July 2013

Victorian Bloomsbury 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, July 2012, 978 0 300 15447 4
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Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-40: Cockney Adventures 
by Gregory Dart.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 1 107 02492 2
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... straight in the eye: ‘each man fixed his eyes before his feet./Flowed up the hill and down King William Street’. This sampling outlines a familiar story about the modern city: it’s the place where the strength that was meant to come in numbers has been hollowed out or fractured. Carlyle saw London as ‘a huge aggregate of little systems, each of which ...

Lily and Lolly

Sarah Rigby, 18 July 1996

The Yeats Sisters: A Biography of Susan and Elizabeth Yeats 
by Joan Hardwick.
Pandora, 263 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 04 440924 9
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... before he died in 1922, John Butler Yeats wrote an angry, defensive letter to his eldest son William. W.B. Yeats had published a memoir in the Dial and his father objected to the almost parenthetical mention in one episode of an ‘enraged’ Yeats family. The remark unleashed in him a long-restrained irritation, prompting an impassioned defence of his ...

Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell: 1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... Conrad Russell was a nephew of the ninth Duke of Bedford: every publisher in Great Russell Street and Bedford Square must have wanted to publish his selected letters, if only from simple loyalty to the landowner. Russell’s life was not remarkable, on the surface. Evelyn Waugh said he was ‘exquisitely entertaining’, but this is ambiguous: he may have meant that Russell was a figure of fun, like William Boot ...

Holy Boldness

Tom Paulin: John Bunyan, 16 December 2004

Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent 
by Richard Greaves.
Stanford, 693 pp., £57.50, August 2002, 0 8047 4530 7
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Theology and Narrative in the Works of John Bunyan 
by Michael Davies.
Oxford, 393 pp., £65, July 2002, 0 19 924240 2
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The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ 
by Isabel Hofmeyr.
Princeton, 320 pp., £41.95, January 2004, 0 691 11655 5
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... again and again in the 19th. Bunyan was born in a cottage on the edge of Elstow, a village near Bedford, in November 1628. His father was a brazier. He was 13 when the Civil War broke out, and at 16 joined a regiment garrisoned at Newport Pagnell. During his army years Bunyan witnessed the struggle between Presbyterians, who wanted to reform the Church of ...

Bad Nights at ‘The Libertine’

Keith Walker, 8 October 1992

Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A Celebration 
by Richard Luckett.
Gollancz, 258 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 575 05286 4
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The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology 
by William Weber.
Oxford, 274 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 816287 1
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... early music came about – in short, of how works were collected into a canon – is addressed by William Weber in The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-century England. Strictly, the classics did not rise: the notion was invented, as Weber notes. Public music in England (tabors, crumhorns and shawms apart) began with commercially managed concerts in the ...

In Port Sunlight

Peter Campbell: The art collection of a soap magnate, 20 January 2005

... advertising, commerce and philanthropy are intertwined. Branding Sunlight Soap was the idea of William Hesketh Lever. He entered his father’s wholesale grocery business at the age of 16. The firm Lever Brothers was founded in 1885 when he was in his early thirties and, with his brother, bought a small soap works in Warrington. In 1887 they moved to a ...

Salons

William Thomas, 16 October 1980

Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... during the Parliamentary session. It was the ideal place at which grandees like the Duke of Bedford, Lord Lansdowne and Lord Grey could meet the clever men of the rank and file, like the Edinburgh Reviewers Jeffrey and Horner, and later Mackintosh and Macaulay. If there was a common political creed in Whiggism, Holland House was the soil on which it ...

Danger-Men

Tom Shippey, 2 February 1989

A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 
by Christopher Hill.
Oxford, 394 pp., £19.50, October 1988, 0 19 812818 5
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The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History 
by Anne Hudson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £48, July 1988, 0 19 822762 0
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... mastery of the sources, even to applaud. Hill has an at times overwhelming grip on the history of Bedford county, to the extent of being able to identify something of that loose but phenomenally successful ‘networking’ by which the English upper classes have long been able to get their way without being particularly obtrusive. He gives short histories of ...

When you die you’ll go to hell

Wendy Steiner, 27 May 1993

Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes 
by Helen Benedict.
Oxford, 309 pp., £22.50, February 1993, 0 19 506680 4
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Reproducing Rape: Domination through Talk in the Courtroom 
by Gregory Matoesian.
Polity, 256 pp., £45, February 1993, 0 7456 1036 6
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... assumptions about the role of rape in our culture. Both present America in a state of crisis. William Kennedy Smith, Mike Tyson and Clarence Thomas are just the tip of the iceberg; the statistics are horrific. Rape is increasing four times faster than any other crime. Anywhere from 20 to 44 per cent of girls in their early teens can expect to suffer rape ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... Simon Shorvoan’s essay in the catalogue describing their lives in England is a vignette of Bedford Park bohemia, of dedication to an artistic life in which poverty was an accepted condition. The dilapidated 18th-century cottage, The Brook, which Lucien and Esther moved into in 1901, was over the years transformed into what Tyrone Guthrie called ‘the ...

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