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At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: Van Gogh, 1 August 2019

... derives from the metonym that Luke Fildes devised in 1870 when he represented the death of Charles Dickens by picturing his vacant armchair. Van Gogh’s taste for swingeing, all-confronting symbols would come to fruition in his solar discs and sunflowers. The exhibition demonstrates that while his handiwork may alter, Van Gogh’s will to ...

Lawrence and the Mince-Pies

Dan Jacobson, 25 October 1979

The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Vol I: September 1901 – May 1913 
edited by James Boulton.
Cambridge, 579 pp., £15
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... the flagship of modern Anglo-American literary scholarship, the Pilgrim Edition of the letters of Charles Dickens, of which Volume IV (771 pages, covering two years of the author’s life) appeared last year. In terms of the number of letters to be included, the Dickens volumes will in fact be about three times as ...

Young, Pleasant, Cheerful, Tidy, Bustling, Quiet

Dinah Birch: Mrs Dickens, 3 February 2011

The Other DickensA Life of Catherine Hogarth 
by Lillian Nayder.
Cornell, 359 pp., £22.95, December 2010, 978 0 8014 4787 7
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... My father was a wicked man – a very wicked man,’ Charles Dickens’s daughter Kate Perugini wrote. ‘My father did not understand women.’ Yet he was never simply a chauvinist. Though he would not acknowledge women’s independence, he recognised their ambitions outside the home. He admired his musical sister Fanny, and was drawn to Nelly Ternan, who became his mistress, partly because of her talents on the stage ...

Boudoir Politics

Bee Wilson: Lola Montez, 7 June 2007

Lola Montez: Her Life and Conquests 
by James Morton.
Portrait, 390 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 7499 5115 3
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... until her death in 1861. Late in life, she charged more for one of her ‘lectures’ than Charles Dickens could command for his readings, and her doings would be reported in the same paragraph as news of Queen Victoria. Her fame was huge and preposterous. In an age before the moving image, she turned herself into a cartoonish celebrity: a woman ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: ‘Parallel Lives’, 2 April 2020

... Carlyle; Effie Gray and John Ruskin; Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill; Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens; George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. This is the form in which Rose presents the couples, with the women taking precedence and preserving their maiden names. It might seem a sure indication of her approach, but in fact she is interested in ...

Peter Conrad’s Flight from Precision

Richard Poirier, 17 July 1980

Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... of America are located in the writings, in turn, of Frances Trollope, Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens (gathered in Chapter Two under the heading ‘Institutional America’), Oscar Wilde and Rupert Brooke (‘Aesthetic America’), Kipling and R.L. Stevenson (‘Epic (and Chivalric) America’), H.G. Wells (‘Futuristic ...

Aversion Theory

Lord Goodman, 20 May 1982

Clinging to the Wreckage 
by John Mortimer.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £8.50, March 1982, 0 297 78010 7
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... Hemingway as conventional, but what about Thomas Hardy or Anthony Trollope or Jane Austen or Charles Dickens or John Galsworthy? And, in particular, what about John Mortimer? He would, I think, indignantly deny the suggestion, but although he espouses unconventional causes he represents the essential upper-middle-class Englishman, pursuing some ...

Daddy’s Girl

Anita Brookner, 22 December 1983

Fathers: Reflections by Daughters 
edited by Ursula Owen.
Virago, 224 pp., £5.50, November 1983, 9780860683940
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... My father’s entire morality – and it was entire – found an equivalence in the novels of Charles Dickens, with which he acquainted me at an early age: the uncles preferred me to read the gamesome tracts of George Bernard Shaw. At no time since my father’s death, which I watched, have I dreamt of him or longed for his advice or indeed ...

In Praise of Spiders

Caleb Crain: Wilkie Collins’s Name Games, 11 September 2008

The Woman in White 
by Wilkie Collins.
Vintage, 609 pp., £5.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 951124 3
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... soon after (set during the fifth-century invasion of Rome, it had actual Goths in it), and in 1851 Charles Dickens distinguished him with an invitation to act in his amateur dramatic troupe. Dickens had a starring role, and Collins was to play his valet, but Collins didn’t mind. Soon the two were slumming and probably ...

Shuffling off

John Sutherland, 18 April 1985

Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction 
by Garrett Stewart.
Harvard, 403 pp., £19.80, December 1984, 0 674 19428 4
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Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction 
by Barbara Hardy.
Owen, 215 pp., £12.50, January 1985, 9780720606119
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Language and Class in Victorian England 
by K.C. Phillipps.
Basil Blackwell in association with Deutsch, 190 pp., £19.50, November 1984, 0 631 13689 4
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... lapses. This condescension has recently been challenged, particularly by contemporary Dickensians. Dickens’s morbidity was the main item on the agenda of the 1981 Santa Cruz conference, where a number of speakers (Garrett Stewart among them) paid respectful attention to death and resurrection in the novelist’s work. Coincidentally, in 1982, Andrew ...

Bite It above the Eyes

Susan Eilenberg: ‘Mister Pip’, 4 October 2007

Mister Pip 
by Lloyd Jones.
Murray, 223 pp., £12.99, June 2007, 978 0 7195 6456 7
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... Wife of the Above’ I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations A book about the delights and healing effects of reading, recalling the novels about precocious readers and intellectual explorers that many of us grew up with, South Pacific cousin to Anne of Green Gables, Little Women ...

Brown Goo like Marmite

Neal Ascherson: Memories of the Fog, 8 October 2015

London Fog: The Biography 
by Christine Corton.
Harvard, 408 pp., £22.95, November 2015, 978 0 674 08835 1
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... by powered traffic. ‘London Particular’, on the other hand, had a much longer history. Charles Dickens is supposed to have thought it up for an 1851 article about conditions in Spitalfields, quoting a weaver who complained of a ‘black London genuine particular’ which stained clothes. He repeated the phrase famously in Bleak ...


Terry Eagleton, 21 September 1995

George Eliot: A Biography 
by Frederick Karl.
HarperCollins, 708 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 00 255574 3
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... Jane Austen and the War of Ideas, the very title was fighting talk: ideas, in the mannerly Austen? Charles Dickens is nowhere more unregenerately English than in his genial philistinism, allergic to anything that smacks of the doctrinal rather than the affective, while Thackeray was unerringly picked off by Leavis for his ‘clubman’s wisdom’. If ...

Faking the Canon

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Forging the Bible, 6 February 2014

Forgery and Counter-Forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics 
by Bart Ehrman.
Oxford, 628 pp., £27.50, January 2013, 978 0 19 992803 3
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... the name ‘David Copperfield’; underneath, in slightly smaller letters, is another name, ‘Charles Dickens’. I open the book, and find the same combination repeated on the title page. I have heard of Dickens, and conclude that what I am holding is a novel written by ...


Valerie Pearl, 4 February 1982

The Shell Guide to the History of London 
by W.R. Dalzell.
Joseph, 496 pp., £12.50, July 1981, 0 7181 2015 9
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... launched. Murray went on to publish 16 editions by 1879, when his guidebook was succeeded by Charles Dickens Jr’s Dictionary of London, although not before there had been a violent altercation between Murray and his alleged imitators and plagiarisers such as Ward Lock and Baedeker, accused of copying not only his binding and colour in the ‘red ...

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