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Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... than its antecedents, Reformation Mennonism was a sternly dissentient creed, loathed by Protestant power-brokers, but its puritan radicalism soon eroded into defensive conservatism. Modern Mennonism, like most Protestant confessions, is sharply divided between hardcore traditionalists and liberal modernisers – although to describe any brand of Mennonism as ...


Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... end it makes me think that the body was governing the mind. The rehearsal of all this is painful. Anne Stevenson, against the odds, has written a decent and intelligent book. It is certainly the best book on Sylvia Plath so far – and it isn’t graceless to point out that most of the earlier books have been conspicuously unsatisfactory. But Bitter Fame ...


Dinah Birch: Anne Lister, 21 January 1999

Female Fortune: Land, Gender and Authority. The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings 1833-36 
edited by Jill Liddington.
Rivers Oram, 298 pp., £30, September 1998, 1 85489 088 3
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... Anne Lister was undoubtedly one of the most unorthodox women of the early 19th century. She was an active and entirely unashamed lesbian, a scholar, a dauntless traveller and a resourceful businesswoman. As an example of what female tenacity could achieve in the pre-Victorian period, she might be seen as a fortifying ideal ...

Complete Internal Collapse

Malcolm Vale: Agincourt, 19 May 2016

The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... field. The ‘new’ political and (to a lesser degree) diplomatic history, seen as the study of power, conflict resolution and sources of authority (le pouvoir and les pouvoirs); the history of state formation and the ‘polity’; recent work on violence, the emotions, faction and rebellion; recent currents in intellectual and gender history – these are ...

Break their teeth, O God

Colin Kidd: The Trial of Sacheverell, 21 August 2014

Faction Displayed: Reconsidering the Impeachment of Dr Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Mark Knights.
Wiley-Blackwell, 132 pp., £19.99, February 2012, 978 1 4443 6187 2
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The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell 
edited by Brian Cowan.
Wiley-Blackwell, 307 pp., £22.99, November 2012, 978 1 4443 3223 0
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... line whose direct descendants have reigned since the death of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, in 1714; and England had been united with Scotland as the Kingdom of Great Britain in the Union of 1707. Notwithstanding various important extensions after 1832, which widened the electoral franchise, and several additional embellishments, the foundations ...

Why the richest woman in Britain changed her will 26 times

Mark Kishlansky: The Duchess of Marlborough, 14 November 2002

The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Ophelia Field.
Hodder, 575 pp., £20, June 2002, 9780340768075
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... the Year 1710 was a none too subtle attempt at vindicating her brief period as favourite to Queen Anne, justifying her personal and political roles, refuting slanders against her and her warrior husband, and defaming her enemies, both dead and alive. Through their numerous recensions, Sarah’s memoirs became more rather than less embittered. The slights she ...

The Death of a Poet

Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew, 23 May 2002

... 1984 – and will be reissued this summer.In 1927 Charlotte Mew was 58 and living with her sister Anne, a decorative painter, at the Hogarth Studios near Tottenham Court Road. Alida was Harold Monro’s wife, and a friend to both Mew sisters. Sydney Cockerell was the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum. Evelyn Millard had become a friend of ...


Graham Hough, 18 September 1980

Nuns and Soldiers 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 505 pp., £6.50, September 1980, 0 7011 2519 5
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by Stefan Heym.
Hodder, 315 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 340 25721 0
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An Inch of Fortune 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 176 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 85634 108 8
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Virgin Kisses 
by Gloria Nagy.
Penguin, 221 pp., £1.25, July 1980, 0 14 005506 1
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... cultivated, public-spirited persons for the rest of time. But Iris Murdoch’s writing has the power to engage the reader in its conflicts, even without the pleasures of recognition or sympathy; and though they are slow in developing, the conflicts are not absent. There are lengthy annexes and excursions that gradually become folded into the main ...

Noticing and Not Noticing

John Mullan: Consciousness in Austen, 20 November 2014

The Hidden Jane Austen 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 195 pp., £17.99, April 2014, 978 1 107 64364 2
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... Captain Wentworth acknowledges this when, in the happy afterglow of declaring himself to Anne and being accepted, he explains his past behaviour to her. He tells her that, in the eight years since she was persuaded to reject his first proposal of marriage, ‘he had been constant unconsciously, nay unintentionally; that he had meant to forget ...

Kitchen Devil

John Bayley, 20 December 1990

Emily Brontë: A Chainless Soul 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 303 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 9780241121993
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... or nothing at all? ‘Love I laugh to scorn,’ says one of Emily’s poems, and the ‘strange power’ longed for in another is the power of, and for, annihilation. Neither God nor love is in question, but food, or the absence of it, is: a substance both obsessive and despised. Heathcliff is the tyrant of the ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... Puritan female, and from voyageur fiction to a novel whose central metaphor is that of the voyeur. Anne Foster, an underemployed art historian and mother of two, decides on a nine-month separation from her husband in order for both to pursue their careers. Anne stays on with the children in Selby, Massachusetts, a town which ...


Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... man or a woman, you will hear these dialogues differently. Nevertheless, the balance of narrative power in Present Times is by no means evenly distributed. Attercliffe is the only character present in every scene of the book and the only character privileged to observe and reflect upon his surroundings. Apparently, this gives him a major advantage in the ...

Royal Classic Knitwear

Margaret Anne Doody: Iris and Laura, 5 October 2000

The Blind Assassin 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 521 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 7475 4937 0
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... grew up the daughters of a conscientious manufacturer who had inherited the estate, wealth and power of a successful Victorian enterprise in a typical well-to-do Ontario town called Port Ticonderoga. The Chase family wealth was based on buttons. (There is a hidden gibe here at Henry James, who in The Ambassadors would not let Strether tell us what was the ...

Tatchell’s Testament

Anne Sofer, 22 December 1983

The Battle for Bermondsey 
by Peter Tatchell.
Heretic Books, 170 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 946097 11 9
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... goodies spend all their time in the ‘forefront of community struggles’: the baddies have their power base among the ‘right-wing Catholic dockers’ and are intent on ‘selling the local community down the river’. They are a ‘handful of right-wingers’ who ‘ruthlessly manipulate the rules’, ‘turn their backs on socialist principles’ and ...

At Tate Britain

Anne Wagner: ‘Salt and Silver’, 21 May 2015

... of the screen. The picture snapped with a mobile may be charged with immediacy, but it lacks the power to reflect on the world it so eagerly, even promiscuously records. Or is it that the world ‘out there’ has somehow become invisible, little more than a background to the self? Salt and Silver catalyses such reflections. Oddly enough, after each of my ...

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