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Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones, 1 March 1984

Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... Mackenzie King and the Devil himself). He noticed that Oxford was haunted by that eerie scholar, Montague Summers, who dressed like a Mediterranean priest but was always accompanied on his afternoon walks ‘either by a pallid youth dressed in black, who was supposed to be his secretary, or by a large black dog, but never by both. Tongues wagged.’ Such ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle, 15 October 1998

Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... ceremony, but the culmination of weeks or months of courtship, gift-giving and negotiation. John Hayne of Exeter pursued Susan Henley with godly vigour in 1634: his presents included Arthur Hildersham’s Lectures upon the Fourth of John, a Bible and two books of sermons, as well as ribbons, gloves and green silk ...

Besieged by Female Writers

John Pemble: Trollope’s Late Style, 3 November 2016

Anthony Trollope’s Late Style: Victorian Liberalism and Literary Form 
by Frederik Van Dam.
Edinburgh, 180 pp., £70, January 2016, 978 0 7486 9955 1
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... steamships. ‘He drove his pen,’ Henry James said, ‘as steadily on the tumbling ocean as in Montague Square.’ Having once crossed the Atlantic in Trollope’s company, James recalled that though ‘the season was unpropitious, the vessel overcrowded, the voyage detestable … Trollope shut himself up in his cabin every morning for … communion with ...

A Life without a Jolt

Ferdinand Mount: M.R. James, 26 January 2012

Collected Ghost Stories 
by M.R. James.
Oxford, 468 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 0 19 956884 0
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... scholarly endeavours. It went all the way down. His friends thought him as sexless as an angel. Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) lived the unexamined life in spades, in the way that only an unmarried don of his generation could. The son of an Anglican vicar of evangelical inclinations, he won a scholarship to Eton, then another to Henry VI’s sister ...

Utterly Oyster

Andrew O’Hagan: Fergie-alike, 12 August 2021

The Bench 
by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Puffin, 40 pp., £12.99, May, 978 0 241 54221 7
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Her Heart for a Compass 
by Sarah, Duchess of York.
Mills & Boon, 549 pp., £14.99, August, 978 0 00 838360 2
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... the dark gentleman ever to speak of it, but it bears a resemblance to that of Queen Victoria and John Brown, her favourite ghillie. Barbara Cartland, of course, could have made something of it. She was very pre-Oprah, and pre-Diana (her step-granddaughter), in believing it quite jolly for gels to be independent and bolters and all that, so long as they ...

Scrum down

Paul Smith, 14 November 1996

Making Men: Rugby and Masculine Identity 
edited by John Nauright and Timothy Chandler.
Cass, 260 pp., £35, April 1996, 0 7146 4637 7
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... citing the suggestion that for South Africans ‘the rugby scrum was symbolic of the laager,’ John Nauright and Timothy Chandler enter the reservation that ‘such notions can be taken too far.’ Indeed they can. An inward-facing huddle of wagons, their occupants locked in some obscure struggle of their own, would have presented little problem to a ...

Midges

J.I.M. Stewart, 15 September 1983

M.R. James: An Informal Portrait 
by Michael Cox.
Oxford, 268 pp., £14.50, June 1983, 0 19 211765 3
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... In later years the scene darkened. There was an intellectual restlessness abroad in the college. John Maynard Keynes appeared (from Eton, indeed, where he had been in Pop), and as a very junior fellow announced that he had ‘had a good look round this place and come to the conclusion that it’s pretty inefficient.’ Plainly, rows lay ahead, and Monty ...

Celtic Revisionism

Patrick Parrinder, 24 July 1986

A Short History of Irish Literature 
by Seamus Deane.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 09 161360 4
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The Peoples of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £15, April 1986, 9780091561406
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Portrait of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Rainbow, 192 pp., £13.95, May 1986, 1 85120 004 5
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The Complete Dramatic Works 
by Samuel Beckett.
Faber, 476 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 571 13821 7
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The Beckett Country: An Exhibition for Samuel Beckett’s 80th Birthday 
by Eoin O’Brien and James Knowlson.
Black Cat, 97 pp., £5, May 1986, 0 948050 03 9
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... impatience with Romantic antiquarianism can be sensed in the Short History when he comments on John Montague’s poem about a group of old country neighbours: ‘Like dolmens round my childhood, the old people.’ These old people, who inspire mixed feelings of tenderness and repugnance, are compared by the poet to a ‘standing circle of ...
The Dons 
by Noël Annan.
HarperCollins, 357 pp., £17.99, November 1999, 0 00 257074 2
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A Man of Contradictions: A Life of A.L.Rowse 
by Richard Ollard.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 7139 9353 7
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... to, almost, the present day, each one made to stand for a particular type of donnish character: John Henry Newman (‘The Charismatic Don’); Maurice Bowra (‘The Don as Wit’); George Rylands (‘The Don as Performer’); John Sparrow (‘The Don as Dilettante’); Isaiah Berlin (‘The Don as Magus’). The scheme ...

Carved Cosmos

Tom Lowenstein, 5 August 1993

Amaravati: Buddhist Sculpture from the Great Stupa 
by Robert Knox.
British Museum, 247 pp., £40, November 1992, 0 7141 1452 9
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... Joseph Hotung Gallery is new only in name: it is the familiar Edward VII Gallery, designed by Sir John Burnet and opened by George V in 1914. It is a high-ceilinged room 360 feet in length, running along the north side of the first floor of the BM. Tall windows give onto sky and plane trees, with Montague Place and Senate ...

Why the richest woman in Britain changed her will 26 times

Mark Kishlansky: The Duchess of Marlborough, 14 November 2002

The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Ophelia Field.
Hodder, 575 pp., £20, June 2002, 9780340768075
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... when he accused her of ‘sordid avarice, disdainful pride and ungovernable rage’. Mary Wortley Montague, who counted herself a friend, described Sarah as ‘eternally disappointed and eternally fretting’. Labels like ‘virago’ and ‘termagant’ may say as much about contemporary gender expectations as they do about the Duchess, but they are not ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... Administration. The great cult film of all time in this respect is George Axelrod’s and John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, withdrawn from circulation after the Kennedy assassination but now available again in cassette form. And the great artistic and emblematic coincidence of the movie is the playing of the good guy by Frank Sinatra ...

Swanker

Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... are William Gaskill’s superb revivals of The Recruiting Officer and The Beaux Stratagem, John Dexter’s A Woman Killed With Kindness, Coward’s Hay Fever, Stoppard’s Jumpers, Clifford Williams’s all-male As you like it, and Olivier’s own productions of Three Sisters and Juno and the Paycock. All of those, I’m sure, were Tynan’s ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... follows a remarkable passage: ‘Among the neglected men I have found Robert Bage, Henry Brooke, John Bunyan, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Delaney [sic], Emanuel Ford, William Godwin, Richard Graves, Robert Greene, Robert Henryson, Charles Johnstone, Charles Lever, M.G. Lewis, Thomas Lodge, Henry MacKenzie [sic], Thomas Malory, Charles Maturin, Walter ...

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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... building after another was being razed to make way for ‘blocks of flats’. In 1925 C.E. Montague wrote of ‘a chilly fear’ that had crept into the ‘old squirearchical life’. In 1934 Lord Lothian alerted the National Trust to the rising problems facing the owners of large country houses. Meanwhile there were other fictional portrayals of the ...

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