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Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’, 5 July 2018

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... merely the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, its name deriving from the Greek for ‘grape-cluster berry’, which it resembles. A course of antibiotics, frequent sluicings with saline, and all would be well. In the days of Lister, Liston and Pasteur, such infections were thought to be an example of what was known as ‘hospitalism’, for the better ...


Hugh Honour, 13 November 1997

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... or being pursued by Lords Cholmondeley, Coleraine and others, before she settled down with Charles James Fox. Though many, perhaps most, of the women travellers were eminently respectable, being accompanied by husbands or fathers (like Horace Walpole’s darling Mary and Agnes Berry), a surprising number went on their ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... Lord Beaverbrook was making the Daily Express ‘a paper of prejudice, not thought’. And the Berry brothers, up from Methyr Tydfil, were moving from Boxing magazine to the Financial Times and Daily Telegraph and to peerages as Lords Camrose and Kemsley. Fleet Street was vulgar, tough, unprincipled and competitive, a world away from the austere values of ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... its own. Ray Charles was recording for Atlantic Records; Sam Cooke had left the Soul Stirrers; James Brown was touring with his Famous Flames. But Otis Redding wasn’t a soul singer yet. Billed as Otis ‘Rockin’ Redding or ‘Rockhouse Redding’, he sang rock and roll and remained heavily indebted to Little Richard. Bouncing around with Jenkins, who ...

A Bloody Stupid Idea

James Butler: Landlord’s Paradise, 6 May 2021

Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London 
by Owen Hatherley.
Repeater, 264 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 913462 20 8
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... to the generation of young men who are the victims and perpetrators of knife crime. Siân Berry, who is running as the Greens’ candidate in the mayoral election, commissions an annual report into London’s lost youth services. In 2020 it showed that £34 million has been lost from youth services budgets since 2011; 101 youth centres closed, 733 ...

Brideshead and the Tower Blocks

Patrick Wright, 2 June 1988

Home: A Short History of an Idea 
by Witold Rybczynski.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 434 14292 1
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... Meanwhile there were other fictional portrayals of the final dismal collapse. In The House that Berry Built (published in January 1945) Dornford Yates went the whole distance, portraying an England that was simply no longer habitable. There had been a disastrous general election and there were some Cabinet members who ‘would not have qualified for the ...

Shuffling off

John Sutherland, 18 April 1985

Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction 
by Garrett Stewart.
Harvard, 403 pp., £19.80, December 1984, 0 674 19428 4
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Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction 
by Barbara Hardy.
Owen, 215 pp., £12.50, January 1985, 9780720606119
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Language and Class in Victorian England 
by K.C. Phillipps.
Basil Blackwell in association with Deutsch, 190 pp., £19.50, November 1984, 0 631 13689 4
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... calls them) taken from the fiction of Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontës, George Eliot, Hardy and James. As usual her commentary is essayistically loose. But one is struck by how good a reader she is. She is at her best when most closely interacting with the text, intelligently ‘feeling’ the novel, as it were. In the Dickens chapter, she illuminates the ...

Bonking with Berenson

Nicholas Penny, 17 September 1987

Bernard Berenson. Vol. II: The Making of a Legend 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 680 pp., £19.95, May 1987, 0 674 06779 7
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The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen 
by Colin Simpson.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £15, April 1987, 9780370305851
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... in a dizzying but pleasurable succession of meetings with his circle of intimates – Walter Berry, Paul Bourget, Abbé Mugnier, Ralph and Lisa Curtis, Madame de Cossé-Brissac, Rosa Fitz-James (“the best hostess I have ever known”), and Philomène de Lévis-Mirepoix – all members of the fashionable upper crust ...

Working under Covers

Paul Laity: Mata Hari, 8 January 2004

Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War 
by Tammy Proctor.
New York, 205 pp., $27, June 2003, 0 8147 6693 5
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... however, that she was a double agent. The long-term lover of her married FBI ‘handler’, James Smith, she had used him to gain access to confidential files which were then passed on to the Chinese secret services; she had also become involved with the head of security at a nuclear weapons facility. (It’s thought that Leung tipped off Beijing about ...

‘Because I am French!’

Ruth Scurr: Marie Antoinette’s Daughter, 3 July 2008

Marie-Thérèse: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter 
by Susan Nagel.
Bloomsbury, 418 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 1 59691 057 7
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... affinity between his subjects and ‘the heroines of Walter Scott’. Going a step further than James Fenimore Cooper, who saw the Duchesse d’Angoulême in Paris after the Restoration and remarked ‘I never see this woman without a feeling of commiseration and respect,’ Imbert de Saint Amand wrote about her ‘like a saint’: ‘Nothing is affected in ...

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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... goldsmith, Guillaume Boucher. Meanwhile, back in France, the famous bibliophile Jean, duke of Berry – who owned a sumptuous anthology of travel literature – commissioned a cycle of tapestries for his own palace depicting the glories of the Great Khan. And the ceremonial presentation of New Year’s gifts at Caracorum, which so discomfited William of ...

How to Get Another Thorax

Steven Rose: Epigenetics, 8 September 2016

... epigenetics faded from view. With​ the discovery of the structure of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson in the 1950s, there was a renewed conviction among biologists – especially the physicists and engineers turned biologists like Crick – that what was needed was a ruthless reductionism. It was immediately recognised that DNA’s helical structure ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... without limit, and, lacking the certainty of a completed thing, will never entirely disappoint. James Agee had a fortunate career on the face of it, as a New York freelance for almost two decades and then as a screenwriter. One of the large talents of American writing in the 1940s, Agee was a Southerner, from Knoxville, Tennessee, who came North, stayed and ...

A Moustache Too Far

Danny Karlin: Melville goes under, 8 May 2003

Herman Melville: A Biography. Vol. II: 1851-91 
by Hershel Parker.
Johns Hopkins, 997 pp., £31, May 2002, 0 8018 6892 0
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... be typical of the middlebrow culture whose laureate was Longfellow and whose critical arbiter was James Russell Lowell, and from which Melville, unlike Henry James or Whitman, could not escape. Melville’s doomed attempt, in the late 1840s, to make himself into a country squire at Arrowhead, his farm in the ...
... is more direct: ‘Erected to the memory of the heroes … Stephen Decatur Parish, James West Hadnot, Sidney Harris, who fell in the Colfax Riot fighting for White Supremacy, April 13, 1873.’ When EJI arrived in Montgomery there were more than fifty memorials of one sort or another to the glories of the Confederacy. They included a gold star ...

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