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Root Books

Julie Davidson

7 November 1985
Henry Root’s A-Z of Women 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £7.95, July 1985, 0 297 78593 1
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... published Root’s cover – or Weidenfeld and Nicolson’s hype – was blown, and the scribe who ‘stands slightly outside the tradition of the English Man of Letters’ was unveiled as Willie Donaldson, playwright, soon-to-be-failed gossip columnist (he had a brief career on the Mail on Sunday) and self-proclaimed former brothel-keeper. From then on, it was clear that the spoof was not going to ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones

1 March 1984
Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... references, since, though he makes fun of Bible-readers, he takes the Bible seriously. Sven Delblanc’s Speranza is another foreign novel that may remind us of British genre-parody – especially William Golding’s Rites of Passage, that witty, near-sadistic parody of traditional seafaring yarns. Like Golding’s novel, Speranza begins with the journal of a healthy, self-satisfied, idealistic young ...

Dishonoured

Michael Wood

5 May 1983
The Rapes of Lucretia: A Myth and Its Transformation 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 203 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 812638 7
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The Rape of Clarissa 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 109 pp., £10, September 1982, 0 631 13031 4
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Samuel Richardson: A Man of Letters 
by Carol Houlihan Flynn.
Princeton, 342 pp., £17.70, May 1982, 0 691 06506 3
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... have committed suicide like Lucretia, or lapsed into slow dying like Clarissa. Or would she? Is that what heroines have to do? This is perhaps the most troubling of the questions canvassed in Ian Donaldson’s cool and lucid tracing of what his subtitle calls ‘a myth and its transformations’. The book, which looks at paintings and works of philosophy as well as works of literature, is interested in ...

Norman Bread

Christopher Holdsworth

16 October 1980
The Norman Conquest of the North 
by William​ Kapelle.
Croom Helm, 329 pp., £14.95, March 1980, 0 7099 0040 6
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Consul of God 
by Jeffrey Richards.
Routledge, 309 pp., £9.75, March 1980, 0 7100 0346 3
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Martin of Tours 
by Christopher Donaldson.
Routledge, 171 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7100 0422 2
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Mistra 
by Steven Runciman.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £9.50, March 1980, 0 500 25071 5
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... These four books deal with periods and problems fairly widely separated in space and time, and yet they have features which make consideration of them together worthwhile. The earliest is Christopher Donaldson’s Martin of Tours, which concerns the life of a soldier who around the middle of the fourth century left his career in middle life to become a hermit and ultimately bishop of a see in north France ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler

8 February 1996
Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... revival, for instance, on the lingering legacy of Jacobitism and on the emergence of Celtic nationalism. For Scotland, there has been work of major significance in the past decade by, for example, WilliamDonaldson, Murray Pittock, Robert Crawford and Andrew Noble. More general studies of emergent nationalism must be relevant to Burns. For while he may not have been a consistent Jacobite or even what ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris

18 July 2013
The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... Footlights revue, directed and largely devised by John Bird. CND was just beginning to gather momentum and the show opened with a huge nuclear explosion, following which, in the words of the producer WilliamDonaldson, the audience was treated to a whole evening’s worth of ‘terrible gloomy stuff – the punchline of every sketch was people dying.’ Nonetheless, it was undoubtedly a strong influence ...

The Tribe of Ben

Blair Worden: Ben Jonson

11 October 2012
Ben Jonson: A Life 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 533 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 0 19 812976 9
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TheCambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson 
edited by David Bevington, Martin Butler and Ian Donaldson.
Cambridge, 5224 pp., £650, July 2012, 978 0 521 78246 3
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... The impulse to rescue him from undervaluation runs beneath these new publications. The almost simultaneous appearance of a major biography and a major edition is no accident, for the writing of Ian Donaldson’s Life became entwined with the seven-volume collection of Jonson’s writings, of which Donaldson has been one of the triumvirate of general editors. Frequently, the two enterprises echo each ...
25 October 1990
Yours, Plum: The Letters of P.G. Wodehouse 
edited by Frances Donaldson.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 09 174639 6
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... Malice and snobbery seem to have fallen off Wodehouse unregarded, playing absolutely no part in his life, just as they are absent in the novels. He knew nothing of their source, or how they operated. William Connor, the Daily Mirror’s Cassandra, notoriously attacked him in the war for broadcasting ‘on behalf of the Germans’ when he was interned after the French debacle: a particularly malicious lie ...
4 March 1982
Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... quit teaching at Eton and move to Cambridge. King’s showed no desire to elect him a fellow – and still less, as he hoped when Austen-Leigh died, to elect him Provost. When his old friend Stuart Donaldson used his influence as Master of Magdalene to offer Benson a fellowship there, kind friends took as much of the pleasure out of it as they could by congratulating him on the skill with which Donaldson ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland

30 July 1998
... it dropped the O and added an extra U to become the UUP. An early rival of Paisley’s on the right was the VUPP, a faintly Mosleyite organisation, formed after the collapse of Stormont in 1972 by William Craig, a hard-line former minister of home affairs, whose principal lieutenant was the young David Trimble. By 1976 the VUPP’s leader had softened to the extent of advocating a coalition with the ...

Diary

Stephen Sedley: At the Courtroom

5 March 1987
... fraudsman who was called by the prosecution: ‘He is of course a prisoner. Perhaps you found his evidence unusually convincing for a man of his background. I know not.’ Kee quotes Mr Justice Donaldson (now Master of the Rolls) as repeatedly suggesting to the jury in the Guildford trial that if the accused had really been knocked about by the Surrey Constabulary they would have reported it to ...
4 May 2016
The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... original composition’ like Edward Young, who set a premium on the rejection of classical models; there were book-trade entrepreneurs whose huge poetry anthologies cashed in on the landmark case of Donaldson v. Becket, which more or less destroyed copyright law; there were the pioneering academics of Enlightenment Scotland, among them Adam Smith, who made ‘rhetoric and belles lettres’ a university ...

Out of Bounds

Ian Gilmour: Why Wordsworth sold a lot less than Byron

20 January 2005
The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period 
by William​ St Clair.
Cambridge, 765 pp., £90, July 2004, 9780521810067
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... of a complicated commercial negotiation conducted in secret among themselves, not of a serious consideration of which British poets should be honoured by inclusion in the book. Such behaviour, as William St Clair amply demonstrates in his magnificent, original and compelling study, was characteristic of the London publishers. His book stretches far wider than its title suggests. He has a mass of new ...

Joint-Stock War

Valerie Pearl

3 May 1984
The Age of Elizabeth: England Under the Later Tudors 1547-1603 
by D.M. Palliser.
Longman, 450 pp., £13.95, April 1983, 0 582 48580 0
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After the Armada: Elizabethan England and the Struggle for Western Europe 1588-1595 
by R.B. Wernham.
Oxford, 613 pp., £32.50, February 1984, 0 19 822753 1
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The Defeat of the Spanish Armada 
by Garrett Mattingly.
Cape, 384 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 224 02070 6
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The First Elizabeth 
by Carolly Erickson.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 333 36168 7
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The Renaissance and Reformation in Scotland: Essays in Honour of Gordon Donaldson 
edited by Ian Cowan and Duncan Shaw.
Scottish Academic Press, 261 pp., £14.50, March 1983, 0 7073 0261 7
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... a mass of paupers.’ Such a widespread ‘diffusion’ of the wealth of the nation, if the extremes are excluded, is attested by many contemporary witnesses, among them foreign travellers. If William Harrison, from whose Description of England of 1587 much in this book is drawn, can be believed, one visiting Spaniard thought that the cottagers of England enjoyed a diet unparalleled in Spain or ...

The dogs in the street know that

Nick Laird: A Week in Mid-Ulster

5 May 2005
... Stormont, the Northern Irish Assembly, would be resumed. In October 2002 four Sinn Féin government officials (one of them the party’s chief administrator at Stormont, the former IRA prisoner Denis Donaldson) had been arrested for allegedly stealing and copying hundreds of official documents ‘useful to terrorists in carrying out acts of violence’. The incident had made the Assembly unworkable, and on ...

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