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Deadly Eliza

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: ‘The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors’, 1 November 2001

The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors 
by William Dean Howells et al.
Duke, 416 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2838 0
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Publishing the Family 
by June Howard.
Duke, 304 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2771 6
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... family both within the narrative and outside it. Howells’s letter to the magazine’s editor, Elizabeth Jordan, has not survived, but according to Jordan, it ‘almost scorched the paper it was written on’: ‘Don’t, don’t let her ruin our beautiful story!’ Howells’s original proposal for The Whole Family had devoted more attention to its ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dead Babies, 16 November 2000

... other films, a more or less obligatory practice these days. Giles’s mad mother lives at Castle Howard (a.k.a. Brideshead), and at one point Johnny the psycho is about to blow the lock off a door with a shotgun when he thinks better of it and instead smashes in one of the panels with a handy statuette of the Virgin. He then fools the audience by not ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... some of his rivals. Charles Brandon was part of a coterie of special favourites, with Edward Howard, Thomas Knyvett and Henry Guildford. In 1512, the young king went to war with France. Charles was given command of troops for a sea attack on Brittany, to be led by Edward Howard. With Thomas Knyvett on board, the Regent ...

The Virtue of Incest

Marina Warner, 7 October 1993

Elizabeth’s Glass 
by Marc Shell.
Nebraska, 365 pp., £30.95, July 1993, 0 8032 4216 6
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... candidate: a translation of a mystical meditation into English from French made by Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen. The Glass of the Sinful Soul, as she called it, was not an original work, but a good pupil’s exercise, undertaken in 1544 at the age of 11 as part of her lessons. A long prayer by Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre, it was ...

Siding with Rushdie

Christopher Hitchens, 26 October 1989

The Rushdie File 
edited by Lisa Appignanesi and Sara Maitland.
Fourth Estate/ICA, 268 pp., £5.95, July 1989, 0 947795 84 7
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CounterBlasts No 4: Sacred Cows 
by Fay Weldon.
Chatto, 43 pp., £2.99, July 1989, 0 7011 3556 5
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Salman Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation 
by Timothy Brennan.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 0 333 49020 7
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... prescriptive stuff. Berger’s bleat drew a warm seconding letter from the reliably reactionary Elizabeth JaneHoward and her friend Sybille Bedford. If Berger had slyly blamed all the mayhem onto ‘the Rushdie affair’, these two went him one better in the business of culpability. The violence was not the result ...

Did You Have Bombs?

Deborah Friedell: ‘The Other Elizabeth Taylor’, 6 August 2009

The Other Elizabeth Taylor 
by Nicola Beauman.
Persephone, 444 pp., £15, April 2009, 978 1 906462 10 9
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... Do novelists come nicer than Elizabeth Taylor? Her mother died of politeness – she developed appendicitis over Christmas, and didn’t want to interrupt the doctor’s holiday – but rather than renounce good manners on the spot, her biographer Nicola Beauman writes, Taylor ‘cared about good manners very much indeed’ to the end of her days ...

La Bolaing

Patrick Collinson: Anne Boleyn, 18 November 2004

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn 
by Eric Ives.
Blackwell, 458 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 631 23479 9
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... writer. Much of the recent debate has centred on that ‘reason’. But unlike Catherine Howard, the other Henrician wife to get the chop, and Jane Seymour, who died giving birth to the badly needed male heir which this whole story, at one level, was about, Anne Boleyn was no Tudor bimbo, no mindless ...

Purgatory be damned

Diarmaid MacCulloch: The Dissolution of the Monasteries, 17 July 2008

The Last Office: 1539 and the Dissolution of a Monastery 
by Geoffrey Moorhouse.
Weidenfeld, 283 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 297 85089 2
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... two new houses in 1537 (one for monks, one for nuns) to pray for his soul and that of his wife Jane Seymour, but within two years he decided that he had enough prayers elsewhere, and dissolved them too. The problem for monasteries was that many devout Catholic Christians took their cue from the failed monk Erasmus, whose reaction to his failure was to ...

Royal Bodies

Hilary Mantel, 21 February 2013

... turn. There were scandals enough in centuries past, from the sneaky little adulteries of Katherine Howard to the junketings of the Prince Regent to the modern-day mischief of Mrs Simpson. But a new world began, I think, in 1980, with the discovery that Diana, the future Princess of Wales, had legs. You will remember how the young Diana taught for a few hours a ...

Lost Mother

Michael Dobson, 17 February 2000

In My End Is My Beginning: A Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by James Mackay.
Mainstream, 320 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 84018 058 7
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Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation 
by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis.
Routledge, 259 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 0 415 11481 0
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Ancestry and Narrative in 19th-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy 
by Sophie Gilmartin.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £37.50, February 1999, 0 521 56094 2
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... the 1560s to the present time. I had not fully appreciated, for example, the extent to which Queen Elizabeth, both personally and through her ministers, agents and ambassadors, manipulated and controlled the affairs of Scotland ... In 1603, when James VI became James I of England, Scotland lost her resident monarch. Little more than a century later, ‘a ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... may even have paid. The film had already started, Errol Flynn flirting with Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth while the usherette showed us down the aisle and before we had even sat down the man was pinching me and remarking on my nice chubby legs. This seemed fairly boring to me as, so far as I was concerned, they were just legs, but I put up with it for the ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... Henry wished for his daughter. After his marriage to Anne Boleyn and the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth, Mary was sent to join the household of the infant princess. There, she was surrounded by connections of the Boleyn queen. Margaret was superfluous; curtly, Henry wrote her off as a fool. If he had trusted her once, he no longer did so. The prestige of ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... Bacon​ was 39 when he tipped up at the club in 1948. He was introduced to it by Brian Howard, the poet and journalist who is Miles Malpractice in Vile Bodies and ‘two-thirds’ of Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited (the other third, Evelyn Waugh said, was Harold Acton). Howard is now best known for a ...

Slowly/Swiftly

Michael Hofmann: James Schuyler, 7 February 2002

Last Poems 
by James Schuyler.
Slow Dancer, 64 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 871033 51 9
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Alfred and Guinevere 
by James Schuyler.
NYRB, 141 pp., £7.99, June 2001, 0 940322 49 8
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... underappreciated in the States, rarely goes beyond perplexity and adulation. A typical sentence is Howard Moss’s ‘How Schuyler manages to be absolutely truthful and an obsessed romantic at the same time is his secret.’ Well, perhaps the critic should have tried harder to get it out of him. Lee Harwood in his afterword to Schuyler’s Last Poems enthuses ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... about which, of course, we know a good deal more. The usual suspects are close on his heels – Elizabeth I (1533-1603, ‘queen of England and Ireland’), Cromwell (1599-1658, ‘Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland’), Wellington (1769-1852, ‘army officer and prime minister’), Victoria (1819-1901, ‘queen of the United Kingdom of Great ...

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