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Paliography

John Sutherland, 15 September 1988

The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins 
by William Clarke.
Allison and Busby, 239 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 85031 960 9
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Wilkie Collins: Women, Property and Propriety 
by Philip O’Neill.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1988, 9780333421994
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... Robinson (whose revised Wilkie Collins, A Biography came out in 1974) and now, preeminently, to William Clarke, we now know much more – especially about Collins’s family affairs, or scandals, as they would have seemed to his contemporaries. As its title suggests, The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins is sensational stuff, both in the Victorian and ...

Up the Levellers

Paul Foot, 8 December 1994

The New Model Army in England, Ireland and Scotland, 1645-53 
by Ian Gentles.
Blackwell, 590 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 631 19347 2
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... of the English Revolution. The debate was scribbled down in shorthand by the Army secretary, William Clarke, who had a remarkable knack for appearing at and recording decisive historical events. He was, for instance, on the scaffold at Westminster 14 months later, on a cold January morning in 1649 when King Charles had his head cut off. ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John, 29 June 2017

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... ways. Edna Waugh had been spotted at the age of 14 by a friend of her father, a barrister called William Clarke Hall, who urged him to send her to art school. By the time she was 16 Hall was ‘determined’ to marry her and she and Ida were in fraught correspondence about what to do. Ida sensibly argued with both parties that Edna was simply too young ...

Strange Talk at Putney

Blair Worden, 23 July 1987

Soldiers and Statesmen: The General Council of the Army and its Debates, 1647-1648 
by Austin Woolrych.
Oxford, 361 pp., £32.50, June 1987, 0 19 822752 3
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... one of the most remarkable and affecting documentary legacies of the English past. The papers of William Clarke, a secretary in the Cromwellian Army, contain his transcript of the meetings at Army headquarters in late October and early November 1647 which posterity knows as the Putney Debates. The officers, soldiers and Levellers who debated the ...

Reproaches from the Past

Peter Clarke: Gordon Brown, 1 April 2004

The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown 
by William Keegan.
Wiley, 356 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 470 84697 6
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... and Curiosities of the Exchequer (1891). Standing in such a tradition, the title chosen by William Keegan, The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown, is entitled to its whimsical flourish, and he duly begins with a monitory epigraph from Titian’s Allegory of Prudence: ‘The Present does well to profit from the Past, lest Future conduct go astray.’ A ...

Little Mercians

Ian Gilmour: Why Kenneth Clarke should lead the Tories, 5 July 2001

... began immediately after the 1997 election, when the Parliamentary Party rejected Kenneth Clarke as its next leader. Clarke was unquestionably the best of the candidates and indeed the only one who was unquestionably qualified for the job. Yet Conservative MPs preferred ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... a more mixed bunch, admittedly, but still mostly distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did this Conservative descent into absurdity occur? During Major’s premiership by far the greatest cause of dissension in the governing ...

Mortal on Hooch

William Fiennes: Alan Warner, 30 July 1998

The Sopranos 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 336 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05108 3
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... of ‘nova’. Suddenly she seemed to have read a lot of books. She refers to Joseph Conrad, William Golding’s Pincher Martin and Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer. Morvern’s palette has expanded to encompass the Updikean spectrum of emerald, cyan and tangerine. She uses the word ‘whorls’. That this was Alan Warner’s voice rather than Morvern ...

A Dreadful Drumming

Theo Tait: Ghosts, 6 June 2013

The Undiscovered Country: Journeys among the Dead 
by Carl Watkins.
Bodley Head, 318 pp., £20, January 2012, 978 1 84792 140 6
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A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof 
by Roger Clarke.
Particular, 360 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 1 84614 333 5
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... Dead, Carl Watkins tells one of the earliest ‘veridical’ English ghost stories, recorded by William of Newburgh, an Augustinian canon in Yorkshire in the 1190s. It’s a tale Bram Stoker could have used, one that could feature in the more old-fashioned sort of horror film even today. A local man who became convinced that his wife was unfaithful hid in ...

Hook and Crook

Peter Clarke, 15 August 1991

Suez 
by Keith Kyle.
Weidenfeld, 656 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 297 81162 2
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... who lived through the crisis and now seeks to record it as history, he invites comparison with William Shirer, whose vast chronicle of the Third Reich sat on all our bookshelves thirty years ago. Kyle may have done enough research to take on the academics at their own game, but he shows that the hard-earned skills of his old trade have not deserted him in ...

Blush, grandeur, blush

Norma Clarke: One of the first bluestockings, 16 December 2004

Hannah More: The First Victorian 
by Anne Stott.
Oxford, 384 pp., £20, September 2004, 0 19 927488 6
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... three weeks; a second and third followed rapidly. ‘Holy Hannah’, as Horace Walpole called her (William Cobbett called her ‘the Old Bishop in petticoats’), was already a celebrity. William Roberts, the family friend entrusted with the task of producing the book, made her into a saint. He presented her as a vessel ...

Escaping the curssed orange

Norma Clarke: Jane Barker, 5 April 2001

Jane Barker, Exile: A Literary Career 1675-1725 
by Kathryn King.
Oxford, 263 pp., £40, September 2000, 0 19 818702 5
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... 1694. His find was a young woman from Somerset, Elizabeth Singer, who sent in poems praising King William. She was hailed and adored in print as ‘Philomela’ or the ‘Pindarical Lady in the West’, and exhorted to ‘Sing, bright maid! Thus and yet louder sing thy God and King!’ Barker would have cut her own tongue out sooner than sing the praises of ...

Mutual Friend

Richard Altick, 22 December 1983

Lewis and Lewis 
by John Juxon.
Collins, 320 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 00 216476 0
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... When he retired in 1909, he burned all his papers. Unlike such courtroom performers as Sir Edward Clarke, whose career took off after Lewis briefed him in the Staunton murder case, he published no volume of reminiscence. As his friend the King said, ‘George Lewis is the one man in England who should write his memoirs – and of course he never ...

Diary

Jeremy Bernstein: Newton’s Rings, 1 April 1999

... after Dr Strangelove opened in 1964. I had just started writing for the New Yorker when its editor William Shawn asked me if I would consider a piece about science fiction. I never much liked science fiction, but I said I would look into it. My friend and colleague Gerald Feinberg, a physics professor at Columbia and a great science fiction fan, recommended ...
... Dynamiters.’Eighteen months earlier, a young Irishman recently returned from America, Thomas J. Clarke, one of O’Donovan Rossa’s Sancho Panzas, had been arrested in London. Using evidence of an elaborate bomb factory in Birmingham, the Crown charged him and other followers of O’Donovan Rossa with treason. (The plan, it seems, had been to blow up the ...

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