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At the Hydropathic

T.J. Binyon, 6 December 1984

Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... in Paris at the age of 15. Family relationships were complicated by the fact that their father, Frederick Miller, an American, had married his step-mother’s niece, Clara; Agatha’s step-grandmother was therefore also her great-aunt. They settled in a large villa on the outskirts of Torquay. In the morning ...

Eastern Promises

J.L. Nelson: The Christian Holy War, 29 November 2007

God’s War: A New History of the Crusades 
by Christopher Tyerman.
Penguin, 1024 pp., £12.99, October 2007, 978 0 14 026980 2
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... as it was commonly termed, could not have occurred as and when it did. Nor would the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1152-90) and a vast German army (Tyerman thinks contemporary figures of 85,000 to 150,000 exaggerate, but is too good a historian to risk guessing by how much) have marched on the Third Crusade in what they believed were the footsteps of the ...

Who was the enemy?

Bernard Porter: Gallipoli, 21 May 2015

by Alan Moorehead.
Aurum, 384 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78131 406 7
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Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story 
by Arthur Beecroft.
Robert Hale, 176 pp., £12.99, March 2015, 978 0 7198 1654 3
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Gallipoli 1915 
by Joseph Murray.
Silvertail, 210 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 909269 11 8
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Gallipoli: The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers’ Words and Photographs 
by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers.
Bloomsbury, 344 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4088 5615 4
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... his ship containing ‘a mass of corpses huddled together … everywhere crimson mingling with the brown, and here and there a waxen-white face with draggled hair staring up into the smiling heavens … Such was our introduction to the glories of war.’ Several men were burned alive. ‘The carnage it caused is awful,’ a Turkish lieutenant wrote after one ...

Cairo Essays

Edmund Leach, 4 December 1980

by Mary Douglas.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.50, March 1980, 0 00 634006 7
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... from anyone.’ Equally astonishing is the almost complete absence of any reference to Radcliffe-Brown, of whom in 1940 E-P wrote: his ‘influence on the theoretical side of my work will be obvious to any student of anthropology’ as indeed it is, if we count only the work that had been published by that date. Even more eccentric is the suggestion that in ...

Viva la joia

Roy Porter, 22 December 1983

Montaigne: Essays in Reading 
edited by Gérard Defaux.
Yale, 308 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 300 02977 2
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Montaigne and Melancholy: The Wisdom of the ‘Essays’ 
by M.A. Screech.
Duckworth, 194 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 7156 1698 6
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... scholars? The ‘Montaigne’s mind’ approach may have produced its excesses, as perhaps with Frederick Rider’s ‘anal retentive’ monsieur: but it’s false to imply that Montaigne scholarship is an Augean stables, and the condescension aimed at the late Richard Sayce seems quite gratuitous. The crusading zeal against the ET heresy frequently becomes ...

New Ground for the Book Trade

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

... or foreign management at the highest level. Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Frederick Warne and Longman – all once imprints with independent identities – now congregate within the Pearson group (best known for its ownership of the Financial Times). Random House UK (whose American parent was long since swallowed up by RCA) own ...

The Ultimate Magical Synaesthesia Machine

Rob Young: Painting Music, 22 September 2011

The Music of Painting 
by Peter Vergo.
Phaidon, 367 pp., £39.95, November 2010, 978 0 7148 5762 6
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... music hall songs, and it wasn’t his idea to call the paintings Nocturnes, but that of his patron Frederick Leyland. Another of his works, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl (1862), had its musical appellation added later, possibly as a result of the critic Paul Manz’s reference to the subject of the picture as ‘la symphonie du blanc’. Vergo finds ...


Gavin Francis: Lycanthropy, 2 November 2017

... an effect of light, which frightens one, rejoices another, and agitates all?’ Joanne Frederick​ was brought in by ambulance; ‘agitated delirium’ was written across the top of her triage sheet. The medical history came from her flatmate: she’d been suffering with a head cold for a few days, feeling weak and under the weather, and had gone ...


John Sutherland, 8 November 1979

The Devil’s Alternative 
by Frederick Forsyth.
Hutchinson, 479 pp., £5.95
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The Four Hundred 
by Stephen Sheppard.
Secker, 374 pp., £5.25
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... are tubs of geraniums and trellises thick with honey-suckle. He is a tall lean man whose reddish brown hair with odd threads of grey is cut into a boyish fringe. He wears tinted glasses and a tight navy shirt and trousers. He says he is a dark sort of individual … ‘very Celtic’. He looks grim and a little forbidding until he smiles. Around his neck ...

Wall Furniture

Nicholas Penny: Dickens and Anti-Art, 24 May 2012

... in Rome. Dickens recognised the artist’s models loitering on the Spanish Steps: ‘The man in a brown cloak, who leans against a wall, with his arms folded in his mantle, and looks out of the corners of his eyes: which are just visible beneath his broad slouched hat. This is the assassin model.’ In August 1845, soon after his return to London, Dickens was ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee, 22 January 2004

Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... anger of Henry James, when he discovered that the novel she had dedicated to him, Miss Brown, contained diminishing portraits of a large number of his acquaintances. William and Lucy Rossetti appeared as a stodgy reviewer with a shallow, garrulous wife obsessed by the charms of her children. William and Jane Morris never forgave her for a clearly ...

Futzing Around

Will Frears: Charles Willeford, 20 March 2014

Miami Blues 
by Charles Willeford.
Penguin, 246 pp., £8.99, August 2012, 978 0 14 119901 6
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... there isn’t any mystery. Miami Blues, the first and best of the books, opens with a murder. ‘Frederick J. Fenger Jr, a blithe psychopath from California’, as the opening line describes him, has just landed at Miami Airport and, with no clear destination in mind but three stolen wallets in his possession, is accosted by a Hare Krishna disciple asking ...
... there are two skeletons. Charles Byrne, the Irish Giant, faces the front. His skeleton, tainted brown because of the speed and secrecy of its preparation, is seven feet ten inches tall. So towering are the bones, and so impossibly hefty is their accompanying leather boot, that it’s easy to walk past without noticing the adjacent filigree form. Mounted at ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 July 1982

Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... Ella D’Arcy. These young women were not Bohemians: they were dandies. They objected when Frederick Rolfe left lice on the furniture; Beardsley was ‘a dear boy’ to them. At the Victorian Club for Professional Women, or in the new flats and studios, they talked with passion and spirit. As Evelyn Sharp puts it in her reminiscences, ‘we were on the ...

Give or take a dead Scotsman

Liam McIlvanney: James Kelman’s witterings, 22 July 2004

You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 437 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 241 14233 4
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... You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free is the vernacular confession of Jeremiah Brown, a 34-year-old Glaswegian exile. After 12 years in America, Jerry is coming home. His mother, whom he hasn’t seen for eight years, is ill, and in any case he could use a change of scenery, if only to break a streak of lousy luck. He has been struggling to ...

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