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A Stick on Fire

Gillian Beer, 7 February 1985

Clarkey: A Portrait in Letters of Mary Clarke Mohl 1793-1883 
by Margaret Lesser.
Oxford, 235 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 19 211787 4
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George Eliot and Community: A Study in Social Theory and Fictional Form 
by Suzanne Graver.
California, 340 pp., £22.70, August 1984, 0 520 04802 4
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... about the orthodoxies of both her societies, clarifies and liberates. Having learnt so much from Margaret Lesser’s discreet assembling of letters, journals, information and linking commentary, it may seem hard to ask for more. But the principles of selection are never made clear and almost all the letter entries include omission marks. It would have ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... A particular highlight is the treatment of the rash engagement between the king’s niece Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard, younger half-brother of the Duke of Norfolk. The engagement was rash to the point of being suicidal because after the death of Henry’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, in July 1536 ...

Boundary Books

Margaret Meek, 21 February 1980

Kate Crackernuts 
by Katharine Briggs.
Kestrel, 224 pp., £2.95, September 1980, 0 7226 5557 6
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Socialisation through Children’s Literature: The Soviet Example 
by Felicity Ann O’Dell.
Cambridge, 278 pp., £14, January 1979, 9780521219686
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Divide and Rule 
by Jan Mark.
Kestrel, 248 pp., £3.50, October 1980, 0 7226 5620 3
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... witchcraft. The Protestants had cancelled Purgatory. Both Milton’s heathen gods and other lesser spirits became devils who, joined with old solitary women, offered an explanation for the unsocialised features of man’s wilder urgings when these passed his understanding. The Protestant minister tells of drowned witches with such gusto as to make quite ...

In search of the Reformation

M.A. Screech, 9 November 1989

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation 
by Alistair McGrath.
Blackwell, 223 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 631 15144 3
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Pastor and Laity in the Theology of Jean Gerson 
by Catherine Brown.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 521 33029 7
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Collected Works of Erasmus: Vols XXVII and XXVIII 
edited by A.H.T. Levi.
Toronto, 322 pp., £65, February 1987, 0 8020 5602 4
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... Melanchthon, Calvin, Bucer or Beza, not to mention that of their wives or mothers, nor of now lesser-known theologians such as Faber (Lefevre d’Etaples) or Girard Roussel, the favourite preacher and bishop of Margaret of Navarre, who was prepared to protect controversial religious thinkers, or a Lutheran court poet ...

At Norwich Castle Museum

Alice Spawls: ‘The Paston Treasure’, 13 September 2018

... the young man seem angled to some person we cannot see. The girl is probably Robert’s daughter Margaret. Illuminated from the right while all else is lit from the left, she is almost certainly copied from another portrait. The painter, a Dutchman in East Anglia perhaps, took from memory, and from life, as well as from other images. There were certainly ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... Margaret Thatcher is the third most written about person in the ‘LRB’ archive, after Shakespeare and Freud. Here Karl Miller’s memories of the paper in her day are accompanied by extracts from some of the pieces published at the time. On the morning Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced, the lesser lights of television who were minding the shop did her proud ...

Von Hötzendorff’s Desire

Margaret MacMillan: The First World War, 2 December 2004

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy 
by David Stevenson.
Basic Books, 564 pp., £26.50, June 2004, 0 465 08184 3
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... wanted Alsace-Lorraine back and Britain Germany’s colonies and the destruction of its navy. Lesser allies, Italy and Japan for example, chose to enter the war for territory. The United States alone among the Allies (it insisted that it was merely an ‘associate’) wanted nothing for itself. That did not, however, stop American bankers and political ...

Impressions of Nietzsche

Keith Kyle, 27 July 1989

The Lives of Enoch Powell 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 518 pp., £16, April 1989, 0 370 30871 9
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... set out with bleak, relentless logic the case for monetarism and the free market decades before Margaret Thatcher presented herself as what he thought was a most unsuitable candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party. The attempt to supply a separate ‘Life’ for each chapter lands the author in the absurdity of dividing up Powell’s time in ...

A Parlour in Purley

Tessa Hadley: Life as a Wife, 17 June 2021

The True History of the First Mrs Meredith and Other Lesser Lives 
by Diane Johnson.
NYRB, 242 pp., £14.99, July 2020, 978 1 68137 445 1
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... and turns. Mary Ellen was the oldest child of the brief happiness of the marriage; another girl, Margaret, was born next, and after that a boy, and the family moved to live in a house beside the Thames in Surrey. Then Margaret died aged two. Peacock wrote an epitaph for her which begins, ‘Long night succeeds thy little ...

Beyond Everyday Life

Julian Symons, 5 March 1981

The Blaze of Noon 
by Rayner Heppenstall.
Allison and Busby, 166 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 0 85031 288 4
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... the creation by man of this filth in his own body’, a girl is sawn in half. Alick’s wife Margaret (the name of the author’s wife) bears a child, the Germans invade Norway. The book ends with Alick, no longer dangling, marked Grade One for army service. There is nothing else like Saturnine’s mixture of philosophical ...
... that you have only yourself to blame, will ring out as they slink off to collect their dole money. Lesser cynicisms will melt into larger ones. And besides, few people will be prepared unequivocally to defend the record of the Schools Council. It was set up in 1964, a gentler time, by Sir Edward Boyle, and its brief was then, and has, in a variety of ...

Who ruins Britain?

Peter Clarke, 22 November 1990

Friends in High Places: Who runs Britain? 
by Jeremy Paxman.
Joseph, 370 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3154 1
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The Sunday Times Book of the Rich 
by Philip Beresford.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 81115 0
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... popular genre which has taken up an awful lot of shelf-space in recent years – the shedunit. Margaret Thatcher’s paramountcy remains ‘the only plausible answer’ after more than three hundred pages which have tracked the experience of the Eighties. ‘Scarcely any of the great institutions remained untouched by Thatcherism in its various ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Mrs Oliphant, 16 July 2020

... of the human family’ or simply as ‘They’, or ‘Them’. The writer who does do that is Margaret Oliphant, whom Miller doesn’t mention, and whose novel Miss Marjoribanks (1866) is surely the most interesting and entertaining example of a woman writing about men in the 19th century.The novel tells the story of Miss Marjoribanks, and of her ...

Mother One, Mother Two

Jeremy Harding: A memoir, 31 March 2005

... me with the machinery of my investigation and informed me of the name of my natural mother – Margaret Walsh – which my adoptive mother had only ever hazarded or garbled. But after a few days in the Family Records Centre in London, it was clear that there’d be work to do: the number of Margaret Walshes qualifying as ...


Brian Harrison, 6 December 1984

Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... suggest the many approaches historians of women can appropriate from other areas of history. Margaret Forster’s is the most conventional of the four. Her subtitle is misleading: her thoughtful and interesting book is not a sociological analysis of rank-and-file provincial feminists, but collects together short biographies of eight well-known women who ...

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