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Keith Middlemas on the history of Ireland

Keith Middlemas, 22 January 1981

Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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Neighbours 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... agreement, who acted uprightly and failed, seeps through, as does his dislike of De Valera and Sir James Craig. His good guys were duped and let down, while the last two died in their beds, full of Irish honours. Thus O’Connell and Parnell seem to react primarily to English stimuli, and the autonomous growth of Sinn Fein occurs in a chapter given over ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It, 6 June 2002

The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... his plagiarism. In 19th-century Ireland, authors like William Maginn, Francis Sylvester Mahony and James Clarence Mangan were in the habit of producing literary texts cunningly modelled on the work of some well-known author like Tennyson or Thomas Moore, which they then coolly claimed to be the lost original that the author had plagiarised. Maginn, who founded ...

Son of God

Brigid Brophy, 21 April 1983

Michelangelo 
by Robert Liebert.
Yale, 447 pp., £25, January 1983, 0 300 02793 1
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The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse 
edited by Stephen Coote.
Penguin, 410 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 14 042293 5
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... their visually excellent Annotated Oscar Wilde,* Wilde’s reference (in his essay on Thomas Griffiths Wainewright) to presumably Hellenistic statues of hermaphrodites ‘that we can still see at Florence and in the Louvre’ was given the hilariously wrong annotation: ‘The hermaphrodite statue in Florence is Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia ...

Der Tag

John Bayley, 26 May 1994

D-Day: Those Who Were There 
by Juliet Gardiner.
Collins and Brown, 192 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 1 85585 204 7
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D-Day 1944: Voices from Normandy 
by Robin Neillands and Roderick De Normann.
Orion, 320 pp., £5.99, April 1994, 1 85797 448 4
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Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army’s Art of Attack 
by Paddy Griffiths.
Yale, 286 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 300 05910 8
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The D-Day Encyclopedia 
edited by David Chandler and James Lawton Collins.
Helicon, 665 pp., £35, January 1994, 0 09 178265 1
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D-Day 1944 
edited by Theodore Wilson.
Kansas, 420 pp., £34.95, May 1994, 0 7006 0674 2
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Decision in Normandy 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 554 pp., £10.99, April 1994, 0 06 092495 0
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... the kind. Certainly the first soldiers who attempted to get ashore cannot have thought so. Paddy Griffiths’s scholarly and well-argued study of the British Army’s battle tactics is mostly about those enlightened tacticians of 1916-18 – more enlightened, at any rate, than the generals who thought only in terms of suicidal frontal attacks – whose ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections, 18 May 2000

... who is Hazlitt’s confidant Peter George Patmore; and three to ‘J.S.K. – ’, or James Sheridan Knowles, recounting the final, farcical agonies of the affair. But the printed Liber Amoris is not the only source. There is a manuscript copy of Part One with additions and emendations in Hazlitt’s hand. There are the uncensored originals of ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway, 9 May 2019

Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... On 26 September​ 1849 the lord mayor of London, Sir James Duke, laid the foundation stone for the new City House of Correction at Holloway. The land had been intended for use as a burial ground for victims of the recent cholera epidemic, but the epidemic had subsided, and the anticipated dead had not arrived. ‘May God preserve the City of London/And make this place a terror to evil-doers,’ the foundation stone read ...

Mumpsimus, Sumpsimus

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Common Prayer, 24 May 2012

Book of Common Prayer: The Texts of 1549, 1559 and 1662 
edited by Brian Cummings.
Oxford, 830 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 0 19 920717 6
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... celebrations last year for another milestone of Stuart English prose composition, the King James Bible, and although I was surprised by the large amount of public interest shown in that commemoration, I doubt whether the Prayer Book will have such an impact. Many will regard it simply as a tribal occasion for a particular Christian denomination, and so ...

Il n’y a pas de Beckett

Christopher Prendergast, 14 November 1996

Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett 
by James Knowlson.
Bloomsbury, 872 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 7475 2719 9
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Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist 
by Anthony Cronin.
HarperCollins, 645 pp., £25, October 1996, 9780246137692
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol I: Waiting for Godot 
edited by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson.
Faber, 472 pp., £75, March 1994, 0 571 14543 4
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol II: Endgame 
edited by S.E. Gontarski.
Faber, 276 pp., £50, November 1992, 0 571 14544 2
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol III: Krapp’s Last Tape 
edited by James Knowlson.
Faber, 286 pp., £50, May 1992, 0 571 14563 9
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Eleutheria 
by Samuel Beckett, translated by Barbara Wright.
Faber, 170 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571178261
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... considerations of a less starkly ultimate kind might arise in connection with the subtitle of James Knowlson’s new biography: ‘The Life of Samuel Beckett’. (The main title looks suspiciously like a publisher’s wheeze, a low-grade spin on Beckett’s desperate formula for the modern artist as doomed to fail or, more tantalisingly, as driven by a ...

Dream Ticket

Peter Shore, 6 October 1983

The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... one moment very good and sensible, at another moment totally lacking in judgment’. James Callaghan ‘causes me a bit of concern ... he is a most talented Parliamentarian and a man of very considerable charm, but he seems to me to have absolutely no philosophical basis. You never know what he is going to say.’ Of Edith Summerskill: ‘the ...

Not bloody likely

Paul Foot, 26 March 1992

Bloody Sunday in Derry: What really happened 
by Eamonn McCann, Maureen Shiels and Bridie Hannigan.
Brandon, 254 pp., £5.99, January 1992, 0 86322 139 4
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... team when the British realised the depth of his commitment to a united Ireland). Arthur Griffiths and Michael Collins believed the exclusion of the North was a minor matter, which could be dealt with later. They did not believe a six-county state could survive for long. So they sat round the table and argued interminably about petty matters of ...

Suffocating Suspense

Richard Davenport-Hines, 16 March 2000

Cult Criminals: The Newgate Novels 1830-47 
by Juliet John.
Routledge, 2750 pp., £399, December 1998, 0 415 14383 7
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... called Gabriel Varney, who was reworked from elements in the life of the forger-poisoner Thomas Griffiths Wainewright. Bulwer-Lytton was the most distinguished of the sensationally popular Newgate novelists. His closest rival, Harrison Ainsworth, managed nothing more than romantic escapism with a thick accretion of historical allusions. Bulwer-Lytton ...

Quiet Sinners

Bernard Porter: Imperial Spooks, 21 March 2013

Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire 
by Calder Walton.
Harper, 411 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 00 745796 0
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... liked to portray themselves.’ ‘If we are going to sin,’ the attorney-general of Kenya, Eric Griffiths-Jones, wrote to Governor Baring in 1957, ‘we must sin quietly.’ The significance of all this is difficult to assess. The record of British decolonisation is mixed. The ‘Empire into Commonwealth’ narrative isn’t complete nonsense. There were ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... the gifted amateur Sir George Beaumont, Francis Chantry, John Constable, Thomas Lawrence, James Northcote and John Soane; and from the theatre, Jack Bannister, George Colman the younger, various Kembles, the long-deified Mrs Siddons and very many more. There were peers of the realm, baronets, famous churchmen, a duchess. One hundred or so of these ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... Butts, Djuna Barnes, John Rodker) was discounted, along with the social realists (Robert Westerby, James Curtis, Alexander Baron), who remain trapped in a ghetto of unfashionable leftist politics and unfashionable locations. The locations – Whitechapel, Notting Hill – have recovered, but the politics have evaporated like a puddle on hot tarmac. We can’t ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... like Alfred Sherman and Paul Johnson, mystics like Laurens van der Post and the born-again Brian Griffiths, embittered outcasts like Enoch Powell and Ray Honeyford, men like Bernard Ingham and John Hoskyns whose previous Labour sympathies made them oddities in the Tory camp, émigrés from Britain like Alan Walters, Ian MacGregor and Robert Conquest. Her ...

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