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Leisure’s Epitaph

John Pemble: The Victorians, 8 March 2007

Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain 
by Judith Flanders.
HarperPress, 604 pp., £20, August 2006, 0 00 717295 8
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... amusement, prone to excursion trains, art museums, periodical literature and exciting novels.’ Leslie Stephen complained that high-pressure marketing and advertising had created artificial needs. They had filled art galleries with bored crowds, turned tourists into hacks and vacations into a treadmill. Flanders makes no use of responses such as ...

Georgie came, Harry went

Frank Kermode, 25 April 1991

A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... awards one to ‘Bosphorus’, himself spelling it ‘Bosporus’, though when the versatile Miss Stephen spells it that way a few pages on, she gets another sic. And with so many of them flying about one can’t help noticing places where they are needed but are absent. Mr Leaska has written a long, informative and devout introduction, filling in much ...

Why we have them I can’t think

Rosemary Hill: ‘Mrs Woolf and the Servants’, 16 August 2007

Mrs Woolf and the Servants: The Hidden Heart of Domestic Service 
by Alison Light.
Fig Tree, 376 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 0 670 86717 2
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... limit to what she can achieve’ as a writer, is more debatable. Born in 1882, the young Virginia Stephen grew up in a society in which service, either giving or receiving it, was the defining relationship of domestic life, particularly for women. By 1850, Light tells us, 80 per cent of servants were female and they were mostly answerable to the mistress of ...

Leaving it

Rosemary Ashton, 16 February 1989

John Henry Newman: A Biography 
by Ian Ker.
Oxford, 762 pp., £48, January 1989, 0 19 826451 8
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James Fitzjames StephenPortrait of a Victorian Rationalist 
by K.J.M. Smith.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £30, November 1988, 0 521 34029 2
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... indeed to contain two such different representatives as John Henry Newman and James Fitzjames Stephen. They shared a distrust of reform and democracy, a love of England, and a penchant for getting into controversy in print. Otherwise, they strike one as chalk and cheese, or ‘dog and fish’, as Newman put it, à propos of their one encounter, in ...

Embarrassed

Graham Hough, 7 October 1982

Thomas Hardy: A Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... the appearance of A Pair of Blue Eyes, he was enjoying an agreeable intimacy with the formidable Leslie Stephen and his charming sister-in-law, Anne Thackeray. In 1874, when Far from the Madding Crowd came out, he became famous, and shortly afterwards was hobnobbing with most of the intellectual leaders of the day, and a surpringly large number of the ...

A Pride of Footnotes

Robert M. Adams, 17 November 1983

The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. VII: ‘Biographia Literaria’ 
edited by James Engell and Walter Jackson Bate.
Routledge/Princeton, 306 pp., £50, May 1983, 0 691 09874 3
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... Apart from the sense it gives of having been thrown together with a pitchfork (in the phrase of Leslie Stephen), Biographia Literaria conceals idiosyncrasies not so easy to recognise. Coleridge writes in part to answer imputations about his marriage, but silently and completely omits from his life story any mention of it (or of the three children ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... of the Broad Church network, and eventually to a fellowship in that college, newly relinquished by Leslie Stephen. In June 1870, he was ordained by the Bishop of Ely, and got to know F.D. Maurice, Professor of Moral Philosophy and proponent of Christian Socialism. Carpenter was also friendly with Henry Fawcett and the mathematician W.K. Clifford (not ...

Capos and Cardinals

Jonathan Steinberg, 17 August 1989

Fascism and the Mafia 
by Christopher Duggan.
Yale, 322 pp., £19.95, January 1989, 0 300 04372 4
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A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul I 
by John Cornwell.
Viking, 301 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 670 82387 2
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... of its rituals, is splendid and unforgettable. It passes the test of literary quality which Leslie Stephen established over a century ago: ‘it stamps itself instantly and indelibly on the mind.’ The Vatican and the Mafia, like Freemasons and Jews, invite conspiratorial ideas. For those with a paranoid cast of mind, they are ideal objects of ...

Mrs G

John Bayley, 11 March 1993

Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 690 pp., £20, February 1993, 0 571 15182 5
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... her personal character’. James’s view was not untypical of the masculine response of the time. Leslie Stephen, a friend and near-contemporary of Mrs Gaskell, regarded her achievements in much the same light as he would have done those of his own daughter; and Jenny Uglow is surely right to stress the implicit comeback in the Gaskell novels, which show ...

Our Boys

John Bayley, 28 November 1996

Emily Tennyson 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 716 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 571 96554 7
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... of marriage, like her own mother, who could be said to have died of it. But domestically speaking, Leslie Stephen was a snivelling and self-pitying bore and tyrant; and Ann Thwaite shows without trying, though with admirable clarity, that Tennyson was nothing of the kind. On the contrary, his wife’s goodness, it could be said, was only made possible by ...

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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... urologist, after retirement, had to be given ‘very firm encouragement’ to stop operating). As Leslie Stephen, first editor, once said, much of the value of the DNB lies in the light it sheds on the lives of the second-rate, meaning second-rank, about whom it is not easy to find information elsewhere. If we do not need it for Lord Blake’s long piece ...

Spruce

John Bayley, 2 June 1988

A.E. Housman: Collected Poems and Selected Prose 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £18.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9009 0
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... hated for his meticulous standards and his appalling sarcasms on the unscholarly, delivered the Leslie Stephen Lecture on ‘The Name and Nature of Poetry’. In the course of it he quoted ‘O mistress mine, where are you roaming?’ and he quoted it as ‘where art thou roaming?’ He had omitted to verify his memory of something so well-known. He ...

Long Runs

Adam Phillips: A.E. Housman, 18 June 1998

The Poems of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 580 pp., £80, December 1997, 0 19 812322 1
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The Invention of Love 
by Tom Stoppard.
Faber, 106 pp., £6.99, October 1997, 0 571 19271 8
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... shall find it.” That is the most important truth that has ever been uttered,’ he said in his Leslie Stephen Lecture of 1933, published as The Name and Nature of Poetry. His poetry is always fascinated by what is irresolvable – ‘Keep we must, if keep we can/These foreign laws of God and man’ – and his scholarly prose concerned, above ...

All the Sad Sages

Ferdinand Mount: Bagehot, 6 February 2014

Memoirs of Walter Bagehot 
by Frank Prochaska.
Yale, 207 pp., £18.99, August 2013, 978 0 300 19554 5
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... beards and whiskers with sad, rheumy eyes – Matthew Arnold, Carlyle, Swinburne, William Morris, Leslie Stephen, Tennyson – giving off a steamy despair. They had heard the melancholy long withdrawing roar of faith, and they did not like the sound of it. Today relegated to a wall in a side room, these literary men seem to take second billing to the ...

A Slight Dash of the Tiresome

Brian Harrison, 9 November 1989

The Blind Victorian: Henry Fawcett and British Liberalism 
edited by Lawrence Goldman.
Cambridge, 199 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 521 35032 8
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... should not hold him back. He kept up his skating, fishing and walking, and his first biographer Leslie Stephen tells us that ‘in later years he was constantly to be encountered upon the roads round Cambridge.’ Rarely in conversation did he refer to his blindness, and when it was adduced to explain any inaccuracy he was not pleased. ‘Fawcett’s ...

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