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Lord Cupid proves himself

David Cannadine, 21 October 1982

Palmerston: The Early Years, 1784-1841 
by Kenneth Bourne.
Allen Lane, 749 pp., £25, August 1982, 0 7139 1083 6
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... apiece, and most Cabinet Ministers could usually count on at least two – especially if, like Lord Randolph Churchill, their reputation was safer in their son’s hands than in their own. Although Lytton Strachey assailed such pious pomposity by showing that the slenderest of books could sometimes be the weightiest, and that eminence was not necessarily ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... the Times, Lords Hailsham, Drogheda, Carrington, Goodman and Weinstock, and Messrs Roy Jenkins and James Prior, said they felt it was a good time, in view of the new publicity about the Ward case, to place on record their sense of admiration for the dignity and courage displayed by Mr and Mrs John Profumo and their family in the quarter-century since the ...

Diary

Clive James: Lord's Day, 7 February 1985

... but be dire. Somehow the idea had got about that it was a lively moment in the House of Lords when Lord Hailsham bounced up and down on the Woolsack, and that in the normal course of business there was nothing to be heard from the buttoned red leather benches – pictures of these had been seen in the colour-supplements – except the death rattle of ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... for ‘swashbuckling’ entrepreneurs, especially ones with Northern accents. When she first met James Hanson, his gentle Yorkshire lilt fascinated her almost as much as his millions. She assumed, as Harold Wilson had several years previously, that Hanson was typical of the self-made man, the hard-working puritan who started at the bottom and worked twenty ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... dates the origins of the British party system, whether with the attempt to exclude the Catholic James from the succession to Charles II, with the rivalry between the Younger Pitt and Charles James Fox, or with the battle over Parliamentary Reform in the 1830s – Lord Blake prefers the ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... statute of treasons drawn up in 1351, it was an offence to ‘compass or imagine the death of our lord the king’. The meaning of these strange words was already archaic in the early 1790s when William Pitt’s Government brought an array of British radical reformers to trial for high treason. The words ‘compass’ and ‘imagine’ had entered the English ...

Per Ardua

Paul Foot, 8 February 1996

In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... the boom spring of 1988 you would not have found a more successful, cockier City gent than Gerald James. A public school education and a distinguished career as an accountant among the big names of the City (Barings, Ansbacher, Singer and Friedlander, Hill Samuel) had prepared him perfectly for his chairmanship of Astra, a burgeoning, middle-ranking arms and ...

Houses at the end of their tether

C.H. Sisson, 17 March 1983

Caves of Ice 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 276 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2657 4
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... one wants to know. The first is the date of the entries; the second is the age of the author. James Lees-Milne was 36, rising 37, when he started this record on 1 January 1946. He had, however, kept a diary before, during the years of the war, and abandoned it only three months earlier, so he starts here with a practised hand. The wartime diaries have ...

A Tall Stranger in Hoxton

John Bossy, 3 July 1997

The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... In the spring of 1604, the English were adjusting to the arrival of King James from Scotland, attending to the doings of his first Parliament, and awaiting the arrival of envoys from the King of Spain to negotiate an end to twenty years of war. Peace, even with the Scots, was in the air. This did not please everybody, and some of the people it did not please were Catholics, who thought that the Spaniards had let them down by failing to make formal toleration for them a condition of the peace ...

Bernard Levin: Book Two

Clive James, 6 December 1979

Taking Sides 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 281 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 330 26203 3
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... an exemplary job of demolition, made all the more convincing by his generous willingness to regard Lord Longford as something better than a buffoon. Commendably ready to hold an opinion no matter who agrees with him, Levin finds himself siding with Lord Longford over the matter of Myra Hindley. ‘In this matter,’ he ...

Royal Panic Attack

Colin Kidd: James VI and I, 16 June 2011

King James VI and I and His English Parliaments 
by Conrad Russell, edited by Richard Cust and Andrew Thrush.
Oxford, 195 pp., £55, February 2011, 978 0 19 820506 7
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... Exclusion Crisis of 1679, the attempt to exclude Charles II’s Roman Catholic heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the throne. In the political dramas of the 1680s the Russell dynasty produced two of the iconic figures of English Whig mythology: the Whig martyr William, Lord Russell, and one of the Immortal Seven ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... Honourable Artillery Company, was a devout Christian who launched the Hammer House of Horror (Sir James Carreras). All demonstrated that a spell in uniform, as the sovereign’s trusty and well-beloved, never cramped a creative talent, and perhaps that a creative talent never cramped a military one. The singularity of their careers has earned them a place ...

The Sultan and I

Anthony Howard, 1 June 1989

By God’s Will: A Portrait of the Sultan of Brunei 
by Lord Chalfont.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79628 3
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The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei 
by James Bartholomew.
Viking, 199 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 670 82152 7
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... faintly ludicrous figure, the Sultan of Brunei, was in December 1985. Until around then – as Lord Chalfont obligingly mentions in the course of a work that can otherwise only be compared with The Lives of the Saints – the general view (endorsed not only by a public opinion poll but by me as well) was that the Sultan’s kingdom was ‘somewhere in the ...

Jane Austen’s Latest

Marilyn Butler, 21 May 1981

Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ 
edited by Brian Southam.
Oxford, 150 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 19 812637 9
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... niece Anna Lefroy, born Anna Austen in 1793, the eldest child of Jane Austen’s brother James. According to family tradition, the play, though written down by Jane Austen, was not her brainchild. Anna, who knew Grandison as familiarly in youth as her aunt did, was always understood to have devised the play as a child and to have dictated it to Jane ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... reviews. The verse is of a high standard. We see poems that helped establish the reputations of James Fenton and Craig Raine; poems by Heaney and Lowell; and Peter Porter’s ‘An Australian Garden’, which counts among his best things. Of the short stories, ‘Solid Geometry’ is a reminder that TNR played host to Ian McEwan when he was still regarded ...

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