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Endearingness

Donald Davie, 21 March 1991

The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... as a prize from Barnsley Grammar School a book called The 100 Best English Essays, edited by the Earl of Birkenhead. (And who was he, I now wonder.) This book was very important in my education, not just for style but for substance too; and I reproach myself for having, not many years ago, let it go out of my hands. When I ...

Ruthless Young Man

Michael Brock, 14 September 1989

Churchill: 1874-1922 
by Frederick Earl of Birkenhead, edited by Sir John Colville.
Harrap, 552 pp., £19.95, August 1989, 0 245 54779 7
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... Chartwell Papers then invited Martin Gilbert to complete this multi-volume work, and the second Earl of Birkenhead to complement it with a one-volume Life. While Martin Gilbert and his team were at work Lord Birkenhead was to be the only other person given access to the Chartwell ...

Lord Bounder

David Cannadine, 19 January 1984

F.E. Smith, First Earl of Birkenhead 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 918 pp., November 1983, 0 224 01596 6
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... comic creation in Iolanthe, a susceptible insomniac who married a fairy; and F.E. Smith, first Earl of Birkenhead, whose appointment to the Woolsack was denounced by the Morning Post as ‘carrying a joke too far’. FE’s life was shamelessly, successfully and simultaneously devoted to ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Books are getting too long, 1 December 1983

... too soon. What awaits me today? A book of virtually nine hundred pages on F.E. Smith, first Earl of Birkenhead, by John Campbell, has appeared on my desk this morning. John Campbell has written first-rate biographies. I even have a vague recollection that F.E. Smith, Lord ...

The Best of Betjeman

John Bayley, 18 December 1980

John Betjeman’s Collected Poems 
compiled by the Earl of Birkenhead.
Murray, 427 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3632 4
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Church Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 7195 3797 5
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... In Anthony Burgess’s latest novel, Earthly Powers, there is a parody of a Betjeman poem. Thus kneeling at the altar rail We ate the word’s white papery wafer. Here, so I thought, desire must fail, My chastity be never safer. But then I saw your tongue protrude To catch the wisp of angel’s food. In a brilliant piece of word play the angel food cake of the children’s tea-party becomes the Host: sex, worship and childhood come together on the tip of the darting tongue that demurely holds it ...

Persons Aggrieved

Stephen Sedley, 22 May 1997

... who set them – in contrast to the Scottish judiciary, who in 1827 upheld the conviction of the Earl of Home’s gamekeeper for murder by the setting of a spring gun, refusing to look at a contrary opinion of the English Attorney-General. Indeed, on more than one occasion in the past, the judges went to the point of perversity to frustrate Parliament’s ...

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