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So Much Smoke

Tom Shippey: King Arthur, 20 December 2018

King Arthur: the Making of the Legend 
by Nicholas Higham.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 21092 7
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... of the language of the people they affected to rule, was his answer, and Duggan’s stepfather was Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, so perhaps he knew what he was talking about. Arthur and Badon creep into the end of Duggan’s novel sequence, though the ‘siege’ is presented as less than decisive. For these and other British writers, the image of Arthur ...

Dear George

Jonathan Parry, 22 December 1994

by David Gilmour.
Murray, 684 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 4834 9
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... A building inhabited by George Nathaniel Curzon became a building with a history – one written by himself. Envisaging his own presence there as the latest episode in a colourful pageant of stirring deeds and raw emotions, he wanted that pageant to be properly chronicled. Sitting in Government House, Calcutta, he reflected, ‘If these stones could speak, what a tale they might tell’ – and told it for them in a book that he saw as his literary monument, to be read hundreds of years after his death ...

The Nominated Boy

Robert Macfarlane: The Panchen Lama, 29 November 2001

The Search for the Panchen Lama 
by Isabel Hilton.
Penguin, 336 pp., £7.99, August 2001, 0 14 024670 3
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... were reported to have crossed the frontier and carried off Nepali yaks): in fact, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, was worried about Russian influence in Tibet. Younghusband, keen for action, recommended that ‘the power of the monks . . . be so far broken as to prevent them any longer selfishly obstructing the prosperity both of Tibet and of ...

At the North Gate

Patrick Cockburn: Exorcising Iraq, 11 October 2018

... responsible had no wish to recall it. After the publication of a damning official report in 1917, Lord Curzon, a member of the war cabinet, suggested that ‘a more shocking exposure of official blundering and incompetence has not in my opinion been made, at any rate since the Crimean War.’ The intervention began on a small scale in 1914, initially ...

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 ...

On the Game

Kathryn Tidrick, 22 December 1994

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 
by Patrick French.
HarperCollins, 440 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 00 215733 0
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... was the FO’s initial response; it was ‘the Gibraltar of the Hindu Kush,’ announced Lord Rosebery), and after a brief war scare the Russians apologised. But Younghusband had committed the great sin of creating a public embarrassment for the British Government, and had made matters worse by too insistent demands for retaliation. Suddenly ...

Not the Brightest of the Barings

Bernard Porter: Lord Cromer, a Victorian Ornamentalist in Egypt, 18 November 2004

Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul 
by Roger Owen.
Oxford, 436 pp., £25, January 2004, 0 19 925338 2
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... America has not, and this may account for some of the undoubted blunders in postwar Iraq. Lord Cromer, born Evelyn Baring, came from that class. With Lords Curzon and Milner, he was one of the trio of great imperial proconsuls in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. He has always seemed the dullest of ...

Browning Versions

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 July 1984

Oscar Browning: A Biography 
by Ian Anstruther.
Murray, 209 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 9780719540783
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... the allegation that he had conducted an injudicious love-affair with a boy called George Nathaniel Curzon, later to be Viceroy of India. Ian Anstruther in his new biography aims to set the record straight in this regard – although not, it may be said at once, at the expense of a full account of O.B.’s career as a teacher of near-genius and a far-sighted ...


Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... achievements were voluminous, but few of his forty-odd books have lasted, apart from his study of Curzon, his lives of King George V and of Tennyson, and his Byron, The Last Phase. A word, too, should be said for his life of his father, Lord Carnock, which he regarded as his best achievement. He wrote with care and in an ...

The Past’s Past

Thomas Laqueur, 19 September 1996

Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History 
by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1996, 0 521 49682 9
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... understood to be, wholly novel: ‘foreign to the Spirit of our people ... too Latin’, thought Lord Curzon. In short, the Cenotaph was built not because of the strength of tradition but because of its failure in the aftermath of 1914-18. Thiepval and the Vietnam Memorial are a slightly different story. The architectural vocabulary of the former is ...

Adored Gazelle

Ferdinand Mount: Cherubino at Number Ten, 20 March 2008

Balfour: The Last Grandee 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 479 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 7195 5424 7
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... fairway, the author of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was already melting under the impact of A.J.B. Lord Vansittart, a junior at the Foreign Office when Balfour was foreign secretary, confessed that he found it ‘hopeless to avoid devotion’. The secret of Balfour’s charm was his nonchalance. Staying cool seemed to be his only rule. Vansittart ...

The Road to Chandrapore

Eric Stokes, 17 April 1980

Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics 
by Kenneth Ballhatchet.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £9.50, January 1980, 0 297 77646 0
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Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1898 
by Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £9.95, February 1980, 0 297 77656 8
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... sexual taboos leads him to argue that racial feeling among Europeans attained it apogee during Curzon’s viceroyalty (1898-1905). This is odd, for nothing could exceed the mood of racial savagery that overtook British and even American opinion during the Mutiny outbreak of 1857. But this was seen as the crude and brutal assertion of superiority by ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen Koss, 5 July 1984

Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... though fair, who can hold such a cargo/Of all the good qualities going as Margot?’ George Curzon, a Soulmate nearer her own age, was moved that same year to proclaim that, however ‘wide you may wander and far go ... you never will beat’ the wit of dear Margot. (‘Emma’, presumably, would have posed a dilemma for both of them.) Gladstone ...

Wigan Peer

Stephen Koss, 15 November 1984

The Crawford Papers: The Journals of David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford and 10th Earl of Balcarres, during the Years 1892 to 1940 
edited by John Vincent.
Manchester, 645 pp., £35, October 1984, 0 7190 0948 0
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... volumes of diaries, which his son eventually entrusted to John Vincent for editing ‘That Lord Crawford was a man of distinction was agreed by all,’ attests Vincent, who seems unduly impressed by royal letters of condolence. Nevertheless, Vincent admits to finding it slightly difficult ‘to convey something of his quality’, which alternately ...

Strange Little Woman

Ferdinand Mount: First and Only Empress, 22 November 2018

Empress: Queen Victoria and India 
by Miles Taylor.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 300 11809 4
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Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent 
by Emily Hannam.
Royal Collections Trust, 256 pp., £45, June 2018, 978 1 909741 45 4
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Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 
by Kajal Meghani.
Royal Collections Trust, 216 pp., £29.95, March 2017, 978 1 909741 42 3
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... from the resident in Lucknow, Colonel John Low, and from the governor-general in Calcutta, Lord William Bentinck, to dispatch the offerings: two elephants, two superb horses with jewelled harnesses, sundry necklaces, bracelets and Indian manuscripts galore, together with a bedstead studded with diamonds and pearls, and an enormous oil painting (9'6" by ...

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