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Mercenary Knights and Princess Brides

Barbara Newman: Medieval Travel, 17 August 2017

The Medieval Invention of Travel 
by Shayne Aaron Legassie.
Chicago, 287 pp., £22, April 2017, 978 0 226 44662 2
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... she spent the better part of five years on pilgrimage, while her husband stayed home in King’s Lynn. After Jerusalem she visited Rome, Santiago de Compostela and York, where she fell foul of the archbishop and narrowly escaped being burned as a heretic. At the age of sixty, she made one last pilgrimage, to the Holy Blood of Wilsnack in Germany. Her ...

The Ant and the Steam Engine

Peter Godfrey-Smith: James Lovelock, 19 February 2015

A Rough Ride to the Future 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 184 pp., £16.99, April 2014, 978 0 241 00476 0
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... of account should be given of the shaping of the conditions of life by life itself? In the 1970s James Lovelock, independent scientist and inventor, proposed the Gaia hypothesis. He argued that the Earth regulates itself, and responds to change, in the same sort of way that a single living organism does. The Earth acts to keep itself alive. Lovelock’s new ...

Our Cyborg Progeny

Meehan Crist: Gaia will save us. Sort of, 7 January 2021

Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £9.99, July 2020, 978 0 14 199079 8
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... its own survival. This idea has new resonance in a time of climate crisis, and in Novacene, James Lovelock, the man who proposed the Gaia hypothesis (and who turned a hundred in 2019), has set down some thoughts about the possible future of life on this rapidly warming planet.Lovelock, a prolific inventor and independent scientist who has done most of ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... I shouldn’t think she’ll remain so for long. 24 July, France. Walking through Lectoure with Lynn we go down a back street towards the car park. It’s hot and already the lunch break; the houses are shuttered and the street completely deserted. We are passing a house that is being renovated with Lynn slightly ahead of ...

The Chief Inhabitant

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Jerusalem, 14 July 2011

Jerusalem: The Biography 
by Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Weidenfeld, 638 pp., £25, January 2011, 978 0 297 85265 0
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... round the intricate corridors of another octagon, the very strange Red Mount Chapel in King’s Lynn, which seems to be some 15th-century Norfolk pilgrim’s effort to reproduce either the tangled claustrophobia of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or the outward appearance of the Dome of the Rock, which Christian tour-guides in ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... the working-class boyo, penetrated the middle classes, beginning with the ‘rivetingly glamorous Lynn Barber’, a future journalist who never forgot the experience. Onward and upward: bent aristos, dopers with great collections of blues records. A brief affair with the daughter of the champion of the English Revolution, Christopher Hill, Master of ...


Michael Dobson: How to Be a Favourite, 5 October 2006

Literature and Favouritism in Early Modern England 
by Curtis Perry.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £50, February 2006, 0 521 85405 9
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... Oxford, ranger of Snowdon Forest, or high steward of Windsor, Bristol, Reading, Abingdon, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Wallingford, Tewkesbury and St Albans – that he didn’t manage to visit Kenilworth once during the first three years he owned it. Despite the elaborate heraldry he had carved into the walls of the castle, he was an arriviste; though ...


John Mullan: Fanny Burney, 23 August 2001

Fanny Burney: A Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Flamingo, 464 pp., £8.99, October 2001, 0 00 655036 3
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Fanny Burney: Her Life 
by Kate Chisholm.
Vintage, 347 pp., £7.99, June 1999, 0 09 959021 2
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Faithful Handmaid: Fanny Burney at the Court of King George III 
by Hester Davenport.
Sutton, 224 pp., £25, June 2000, 0 7509 1881 0
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... with his impersonations. One evening Omai, the Tahitian tribal chief, comes to dinner (her brother James had been on Captain Cook’s second voyage). There is Joshua Reynolds and Richard Sheridan, and later Madame de Staël and Talleyrand. In her ostensibly private records of her life, Burney often keeps pace with current events and personalities, providing ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... play. Simone Weil got the boot, as did Nina Simone and Simone Signoret, Jowett (of Balliol fame), James Agate, Jane Austen, Molly Bloom, Hegel and Henry James, all of them biting the distinguished dust. 2 June. A situation on the margins of social interaction develops opposite. Working outside No. 60 is a handsome, though ...

Why are you still here?

James Meek: Who owns Grimsby?, 23 April 2015

... at the bars in the resort of Cleethorpes, to which Grimsby is conjoined. Two wind farms, Lincs and Lynn & Inner Dowsing, are already fully operational off Skegness, south of Grimsby. Two more, Westermost Rough and Humber Gateway, are almost finished to the north. Construction of another three, Triton Knoll, Dudgeon and Race Bank, is about to start.These are ...

What does a snake know, or intend?

David Thomson: Where Joan Didion was from, 18 March 2004

Where I Was From 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 240 pp., £14.99, March 2004, 0 00 717886 7
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... Harbor – even if that respect is filtered through the figures of Prewitt, Maggio and Warden from James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, a novel that plainly means a lot to her.) Over the years since 1963, Didion has won a high reputation as a political journalist/ commentator. I’ve never been quite as sure of that talent, if only because American politics ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... or (a regular visitor) the woodpecker.29 August, Paris. A nice experience this afternoon when with Lynn we go into a creperie opposite the St Germain covered market hoping for some tea, in the window a solitary piece of cake. The young woman in charge smilingly refuses to serve it to us as it is part of an experiment that hasn’t worked. We say it looks ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... go back to the Battle of Bannockburn?No, not that far. Your schooling. Your birthplace. King’s Lynn. I was born in Norfolk.Were both your parents Scottish? Yes.And your father was an engineer? Yes. A civil engineer, built sewers, I think.– Which is a very Scottish thing to be doing. Building sewers?No, being an engineer. In King’s ...

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