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Prynne’s Principia

Elizabeth Cook, 16 September 1982

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Agneau 2, 320 pp., £12, May 1982, 0 907954 00 6
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... A volume as thick as this, with an index, and a cover of Gallimard plainness, entitled simply Poems, inevitably suggests the accomplished authority of an Opera Omnia. The book includes the contents of 12 volumes previously published by small presses in more or less limited editions, interspersed with clumps of previously uncollected poems. The last poem in the book seems to announce a long ensuing silence: What do you say then well yes and no about four times a day sick and nonplussed by the thought of less you say stuff it ...

From Pandemonium

Elizabeth Cook: Poetry wrested from mud, 1 September 2005

The Poems and Plays of Isaac Rosenberg 
edited by Vivien Noakes.
Oxford, 427 pp., £90, August 2004, 0 19 818715 7
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... In June 1914, the 24-year-old Isaac Rosenberg left his home in Stepney, East London, to stay with his married sister Minnie Horvitch in Cape Town in the hope that the climate might improve his health. He was in Cape Town when he heard that war had been declared. He responded in ‘On Receiving News of the War: Cape Town’: Snow is a strange white word ...

No One Left to Kill

Thomas Jones: Achilles, 24 May 2001

Achilles 
by Elizabeth Cook.
Methuen, 116 pp., £12.99, March 2001, 0 413 75740 4
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... closer to being a poem than a novel: if not verse, then at least prose with blood pressure – Elizabeth Cook neatly situates this passage a third of the way through the book, in a space between chapters. On the previous page, Achilles has committed himself to Troy. What follows draws out the dramatic potential of the dilemma, despite its ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Why I Quit, 11 September 2014

... celebrations (as well as Walcott and Livingstone, the list includes Ben Okri, Michèle Roberts, Elizabeth Cook, Iain Sinclair, Tom Raworth and Irvine Welsh), the administrators told me ‘family fun’ was to be the mood. So instead, would I give a talk about The Wobbly Tooth, a little children’s book I wrote thirty years ago when my son Conrad lost ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth David: A Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth David: The Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... When Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950, many of the ingredients it called for were unobtainable. But even after meat came off the ration, few people can have had much practical need for a traditional Turkish recipe for stuffing a whole sheep. That was not the point. Saturated with description, of figs and aubergines, of fishing boats at anchor in Marseille and paella pans left out to dry in Spanish courtyards, Mediterranean Food brought a beakerful of the warm South to chilly, postwar England ...

The South

Colm Tóibín, 4 August 1994

One Art: The Selected Letters of Elizabeth Bishop 
Chatto, 668 pp., £25, April 1994, 0 7011 6195 7Show More
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... Flamingo Park and went out some days to swim at Copacabana. It was that time between the death of Elizabeth Bishop and the appearance of the first biography and this volume of letters, when the ordinary reader on this side of the Atlantic knew very little about her. I did not know that for 15 years she stayed in an apartment overlooking the beach. ‘It is ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... a woman, a writer, and a person with the right progressive ideas. So could the author of the poem, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It is only fair to say, though, that this kind of wish-fulfilment is not only an accurate portrayal of the kind of selves that Charlotte and Elizabeth became, and wished to become: it is also a ...

Noovs’ hoovs in the trough

Angela Carter, 24 January 1985

The Official Foodie Handbook 
by Ann Barr and Paul Levy.
Ebury, 144 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 85223 348 5
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine 
by Elizabeth David.
Hale, 318 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7090 2047 3
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Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook 
by Alice Waters, foreword by Jane Grigson .
Chatto, 340 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2820 8
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... scant half-crust. (‘That bread alone was worth the journey,’ they probably remark, just as Elizabeth David says of a trip to an out-of-the-way eatery in France.) Art has a morality of its own, and the aesthetics of cooking and eating aspire, in ‘foodism’, towards the heights of food-for-food’s sake. Therefore the Third World can go suck its ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... As readers of her book on The Ladies of Llangollen will know, Elizabeth Mavor relishes spirited, unorthodox women, free with their tongues and ready to snap their fingers at convention. Now she has found a new clutch of them in the Archives of the Royal Irish Academy: an Irish countess, a Russian princess, a young woman from Co ...

Gold-Digger

Colin Burrow: Walter Ralegh, 8 March 2012

Sir Walter Ralegh in Life and Legend 
by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams.
Continuum, 378 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 1 4411 1209 5
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The Favourite: Sir Walter Ralegh in Elizabeth I’s Court 
by Mathew Lyons.
Constable, 354 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84529 679 7
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... was good on anecdotes though not quite so strong on truth) recorded that he once got one of Elizabeth’s maids of honour up against a tree. She protested with ‘Will you undoe me? Nay, sweet Sir Walter! Sweet Sir Walter! Sir Walter! At last as the danger and the pleasure at the same time grew higher, she cryed in the ecstasy, Swisser-Swatter ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery, 3 November 2016

... choice that what we put on our tables can be taken as a personal statement and since most people cook for themselves, the host’s status hangs on the execution as well as the menu. An appearance of effortless sophistication is the middle-class ideal. Elizabeth David not only brightened postwar Britain with the flavours of ...

When Men Started Doing It

Steven Shapin: At the Grill Station, 17 August 2006

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker and Apprentice to a Butcher in Tuscany 
by Bill Buford.
Cape, 318 pp., £17.99, July 2006, 9780224071840
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... What’s all this fuss about cooks and chefs? The how-to-cook sections of bookshops are as big as the how-to-be-successful-in-life sections; it’s no longer clear where one ends and the other begins. Many of the books sell themselves not so much as sources of practical information – how to make a wild mushroom risotto – but as windows onto both the skills and the emotional life of a celebrity cook ...

Wolfing it

Angela Carter, 23 July 1987

Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia 
by Patience Gray.
Prospect, 374 pp., £17.50, November 1986, 0 907325 30 0
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A Table in Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France 
collected and illustrated by Leslie Forbes.
Webb and Bower/Joseph, 160 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 86350 130 3
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The Joyce of Cooking: Food and Drink from James Joyce’s Dublin 
by Alison Armstrong, foreword by Anthony Burgess.
Station Hill Press, 252 pp., $18.95, December 1986, 0 930794 85 0
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... a prototype of the late 20th-century British cookery book, a book to browse in as much as to cook from, its prose as elegant as its plentiful line-drawings. And, oh, that easy, graceful cosmopolitanism! ‘For anyone who has eaten a well-prepared Gulyas in one of the little restaurants on the Buda side of the Danube, overlooking the lantern-threaded ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... market, and the wish to maintain his useful friendships with W.D. Howells, the originator, and Elizabeth Jordan, the editor, of the strange Harper’s project. If these are plausible causes for James’s involvement, however, they don’t seem wholly to account for the way in which, when his turn came, the creative James showed an intense engagement with ...

Why we have them I can’t think

Rosemary Hill: ‘Mrs Woolf and the Servants’, 16 August 2007

Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service 
by Alison Light.
Fig Tree, 376 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 0 670 86717 2
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... that ‘last night I would have put my head in the gas oven, if I wasn’t too frightened of the cook to go into the kitchen.’ The uneasy balance of power between domestic servants and their masters and mistresses, especially mistresses, is the theme of Alison Light’s study of the home life of Virginia Woolf, whose complicated relationship with her own ...

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