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The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 October 1985

Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... was ‘admirably restrained’. It sold quite well, going into a second impression, and Radclyffe Hall, with her lover Una Troubridge, thought of taking a cottage in Rye. She may have felt some disappointment, having planned her novel in a crusader’s spirit. She claimed to have written the first full-length treatment in English of women who loved women. In ...

Trollopiad

John Sutherland, 9 January 1992

The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Manchester, 528 pp., £29.95, July 1990, 0 472 10102 1
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Anthony Trollope: A Victorian in his World 
by Richard Mullen.
Duckworth, 767 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 7156 2293 5
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Trollope: A Biography 
by N. John Hall.
Oxford, 581 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 19 812627 1
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... correspondence. But most of it has disappeared. The collected letters are excellently edited by N. John Hall, but they run only to a couple of volumes. Dickens, by contrast, looks like amassing 15 or so fatter volumes in the Pilgrim edition. George Eliot’s eight volumes and Thackeray’s four (soon to be supplemented) all outweigh Trollope. There is a ...

Grand Theories

W.G. Runciman, 17 October 1985

The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences 
edited by Quentin Skinner.
Cambridge, 215 pp., £17.50, July 1985, 0 521 26692 0
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Classes 
by Erik Olin Wright.
Verso, 344 pp., £20, September 1985, 0 86091 104 7
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Powers and Liberties: The Causes and Consequences of the Rise of the West 
by John Hall.
Blackwell, 282 pp., £19.50, September 1985, 0 631 14542 7
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... gives me may expand the space for critical thought more than the privileges I enjoy erode it.’ John Hall, now at the University of Southampton, read history at Oxford but was seduced (his word) by Barrington Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy into historical sociology in the liberal tradition of the Scottish ...

Crusoe was a gentleman

John Sutherland, 1 July 1982

The Gentleman in Trollope: Individuality and Moral Conduct 
by Shirley Letwin.
Macmillan, 303 pp., £15, May 1982, 0 333 31209 0
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The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel 
by Robin Gilmour.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £10, October 1981, 0 04 800005 1
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... number of the 47 novels to print. A new and complete edition of the letters (edited by N. John Hall) is about to take over from Bradford Booth’s handy but imperfect single volume. A new and definitive biography (by Hall again) is in hand. And there has been an astonishing number of monographs and hardbacked ...
The Restraint of Beasts 
by Magnus Mills.
Flamingo, 215 pp., £9.99, September 1998, 0 00 225720 3
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... by accidental homicides and the protagonists’ growing unease about the obscure activities of Hall Brothers, a local family business. Initially, the Halls appear to run a rival fencing company, but it emerges that their main concern is a large meat factory, producing sausages and pies. As the novel draws to its end, the brothers take on the Scottish ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... this time in a more objectively historical context. Hamilton offers 22 case studies, from John Donne – the first properly biographed English author – to Philip Larkin of last month’s Observer fame. Hamilton could not, if he tried, write an unreadable book. Keepers of the Flame is that rarest of modern things, lit crit with laughs. Hamilton has ...

Two Poems

Donald Hall, 19 August 1993

... forty-eight, we argued all         night about whether a poem was good enough for us. John         Ashbery sat in a corner shelling pistachio nuts;         Robert E. Bly wore a three- piece suit and a striped tie; Kenneth         Koch was always sarcastic. Once as we pasted an issue         together we discovered a ...

Beware Bad Smells

Hugh Pennington: Florence Nightingale, 4 December 2008

Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend 
by Mark Bostridge.
Viking, 646 pp., £25, October 2008, 978 0 670 87411 8
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... enterprise has not failed to show itself in the most favourable light. Thus in the Crimea Uncle John has carried his railroads with him, and the locomotive is used there to wheel up shot, shell and other implements of war … from the camp in the Crimea, to the War Office in London, the Commander in Chief now reports direct the state of the siege every few ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... of them was that the Church bought out its partners at an early stage and at a generous price. Sir John Hall, the Newcastle entrepreneur, was bought out of the Gateshead Metro shopping centre before it was built. He got £40m, but the Church kept losing money on the project until it was finally sold at a staggering loss in 1990. Sir ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... the 1790s (which included a letter from Elizabeth I thanking him for his ‘prettye Verses’) and John Payne Collier in the 1830s and 1840s (which showed Shakespeare to have been a well-connected member of metropolitan literary circles from an early stage). But for Shapiro the real villain is Edmond Malone. The usual story is that Malone, as he himself ...

Democratic Sublime

Derek Hirst: Writing the English republic, 19 August 1999

Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics 1627-60 
by David Norbrook.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £40, January 1999, 0 521 63275 7
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... in 1660 is apparent. More revealing was the seal’s association of freedom with what the royalist John Evelyn, surveying the measures of early 1649, scathingly termed ‘unkingship’. Corruption, even tyranny, are the inexorable accompaniments of monarchy because of the fawning and flattery kings always engender in others. Monarchy is dangerous since all ...

What’s not to like?

Stefan Collini: Ernest Gellner, 2 June 2011

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography 
by John Hall.
Verso, 400 pp., £29.99, July 2010, 978 1 84467 602 6
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... and as philosophers of social-scientific method. The comparison becomes almost a reflex in John Hall’s outstanding biography: ‘Gellner’s understanding and account of modern cognition were profoundly Weberian’; ‘No modern thinker has stood so close to Weber in insisting that our times must be disenchanted’; Gellner’s account is ...

Haar

John Burnside, 8 January 2004

... pleasure boats; tailored poodles. It’s warmer at night, when the lights go on in the pool hall, the moon on the empty firth like the spirit of neon, girls from the Glasgow Fair drifting down to The Ship for vodka and cranberry, Budweiser, rum and black, but days are best: these days of salt and fog, mornings when last night’s dreams fit snug in my ...

Unsluggardised

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 18 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... opens with a brisk pair of essays by David Fallow and Michael Wood on the subject of his parents: John Shakespeare, born in about 1530, the son of a tenant farmer in the outlying village of Snitterfield, and Mary née Arden, some years younger, of a more prosperous family from Wilmcote. Neither of their baptisms is documented, nor the date of their ...

Trollope’s Delight

Richard Altick, 3 May 1984

The Letters of Anthony Trollope 
edited by John Hall.
Stanford, 1082 pp., $87.50, July 1983, 0 8047 1076 7
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Anthony Trollope: Dream and Art 
by Andrew Wright.
Macmillan, 173 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 34593 2
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... dealings with publishers than any man living.’ His letters to his chief publishers, Chapman and Hall, Blackwood, and Smith, Elder, are those of a hard-headed bargainer, civil but firm, who knew the market value of his product and was determined to get the best price for it. In a day when the royalty system was only beginning to be adopted and formal ...

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