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Liking it and living it

Hugh Tulloch, 14 September 1989

Namier 
by Linda Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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Hume 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... In the Sixties J.H. Plumb euphorically announced the death of the ‘past’ – that comforting mythology conjured up to serve the present and make sense of things as they are – in the face of an advancing scholarship which was real ‘history’ and which depicted things as they actually were. The announcement was premature, and the distinction less clear-cut than Plumb assumed ...

In Praise of Lolly

Linda Colley, 3 February 1983

The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialisation of 18th-Century England 
by Neil McKendrick, John Brewer and J.H. Plumb.
Europa, 355 pp., £18.50, July 1982, 0 905118 00 6
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... In a book as lively, as diverse and as rich as the society it describes, Neil McKendrick, John Brewer and their joint mentor, Sir John Plumb, have gone far to rectify this omission. Moving from pots to strops, McKendrick explains the varied entrepreneurial skills of a tycoon, Josiah Wedgwood, and a comparative ...

Melton Constable

W.R. Mead, 22 May 1986

The past is a foreign country 
by David Lowenthal.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £27.50, November 1985, 0 521 22415 2
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... very much among the muses on Helicon and that the power of the past is no less than when J.H. Plumb began to toll its knell. Why and how we change the past – the third part of the book – is an individual as well as a collective matter, a conscious as well as an unconscious process. At the individual level, autobiographical confession provides generous ...

Pudding Time

Colin Kidd: Jacobites, 14 December 2006

1715: The Great Jacobite Rebellion 
by Daniel Szechi.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 300 11100 2
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... time’. The conventional wisdom of the Whigs was repackaged for a modern audience by J.H. Plumb during the 1960s. Plumb redirected attention towards the patronage systems that had secured political stability in the first third of the 18th century. For him, Jacobitism’s primary significance lay in giving Whig ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... of the kind Eagleton now favours. Only one famous historian came out on Carpenter’s behalf: J.H. Plumb. In an essay reprinted in his collection In the Light of History (1969), Plumb surveyed the world of Edwardian cranks, mystics and nature freaks, and gave his opinion: ‘they were right.’ History continues to be the ...

Tory History

Alan Ryan, 23 January 1986

English Society 1688-1832 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 439 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 30922 0
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Virtue, Commerce and History 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 521 25701 8
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... of History’ is a case in point. Herbert Butterfield slew it in 1931, and here come John Pocock and Jonathan Clark to slay it again. There is next to nothing in common between them, save their opposition to the Whig Interpretation and its offspring: but it is that opposition which provides both of them with the structure of their argument and ...

English Marxists in dispute

Roy Porter, 17 July 1980

Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... have an integrity and persistence of their own. Academic historians such as Maurice Cowling and John Vincent have for years been plotting the political seduction of the aspiring middle classes into primrose leagues. It was all in Bagehot anyway. Similarly it is striking, but in some ways rather pathetic, to discover a Marxist such as Philip Corrigan ...

Anne’s Powers

G.C. Gibbs, 4 September 1980

Queen Anne 
by Edward Gregg.
Routledge, 483 pp., £17.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0400 1
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... bears her name. He acknowledges a heavy debt to established scholars in the field, notably J.H. Plumb, Geoffrey Holmes, G.V. Bennett and Henry L. Snyder, and the extent of the debt is very evident in the book. But he is also his own man, able to draw upon his own published articles and unpublished London PhD dissertation, and a well-stocked armoury of ...

Futures

John Dunn, 5 February 1981

History of the Idea of Progress 
by Robert Nisbet.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 435 82657 3
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... Change and History. The present work comes with handsome puffs from the eminent. Professor J.H. Plumb describes its author on the jacket as both ‘a political philosopher with a most acute analytical mind’ and ‘a scholar of very wide and precise scholarship’. Of its width there can indeed be no dispute: from Hesiod to the Jonestown massacre, if not ...

Something an academic might experience

Michael Neve, 26 September 1991

The Faber Book of Madness 
edited by Roy Porter.
Faber, 572 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 14387 3
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... A small news item with a large history behind it: John Sylvester, an inhabitant of Lancashire, was released last month from a life spent in mental hospitals and institutions, aged 81. He had been incarcerated when he was six years old, and his offence had been the stealing of an apple. His mother had died soon after this first confinement, and so when declared ‘mentally fit’ in 1929, he became the responsibility of his father, who was disabled and could not take up his case ...

Highway to Modernity

Colin Kidd: The British Enlightenment, 8 March 2001

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane, 728 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9152 6
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... Curiously, the first historian to query this complacent picture was the future arch-Eurosceptic, John Redwood, in his Reason, Ridicule and Religion: The Age of Enlightenment in England 1660-1750 (1976). This told the story of the assault on orthodox Christianity launched during the Augustan age by a variegated cast of libertine rakes, deists and ...
George Macaulay Trevelyan: A Memoir 
by Mary Moorman.
Hamish Hamilton, 253 pp., £9.95, April 1980, 0 241 10358 4
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Public and Private 
by Humphrey Trevelyan.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £8.95, February 1980, 0 241 10357 6
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... Historian’ (1949) is as the title suggests both narrow and concise. The sketch by a pupil, J.H. Plumb, published in 1951, is a survey of the books rather than the man. Mrs Moorman, herself the biographer of Wordsworth as well as a loyal daughter, rightly considers this is not enough, and has retrieved letters, chiefly early and chiefly to his brother, the ...

Diary

Keith Thomas: Working Methods, 10 June 2010

... early modern equivalent of the yellow highlighter. According to the Jacobean educational writer John Brinsley, ‘the choycest books of most great learned men, and the notablest students’ were marked through, ‘with little lines under or above’ or ‘by some prickes, or whatsoever letter or mark may best help to call the knowledge of the thing to ...

Whigissimo

Stefan Collini: Herbert Butterfield, 21 July 2005

Herbert Butterfield: Historian as Dissenter 
by C.T. McIntire.
Yale, 499 pp., £30, August 2005, 0 300 09807 3
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... principles’. The illustrative quotations reinforced this emphasis: ‘The term Whig,’ Lord John Russell said in the 1850s, ‘has the convenience of expressing in one syllable what Conservative Liberal expresses in seven.’ The entry ranged widely over the (mainly pejorative) extensions of the core use, including such delights, now lost, as ...

The Macaulay of the Welfare State

David Cannadine, 6 June 1985

The BBC: The First 50 Years 
by Asa Briggs.
Oxford, 439 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 0 19 212971 6
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. I: Words, Numbers, Places, People 
Harvester, 245 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0094 0Show More
The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. II: Images, Problems, Standpoints, Forecasts 
Harvester, 324 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0510 1Show More
The 19th Century: The Contradictions of Progress 
edited by Asa Briggs.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 04013 3
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... forcefulness of G.R. Elton, the olympian grandeur of Owen Chadwick, the stylish verve of J.H. Plumb, the cosmopolitan allusiveness of E.J. Hobsbawm, and the impassioned radicalism of Christopher Hill. Some have criticised his work for being too bland, for lacking analytical bite, for being more concerned with experience than with explanation, for relying ...

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