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Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... was discovered in 1819, when Edward Drury, a young Stamford bookseller, wrote to his cousin John Taylor, who was also a bookseller – what we would now call a publisher – and told him that he had discovered a wholly untutored genius: Your hopes of good grammar and correct verse, depend on the inspiration of the mind; for Clare cannot reason; he writes ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... John Taylor, the journalist, newspaper editor and poet, was born in 1757. His grandfather, the legendary ‘Chevalier’ Taylor, had been oculist to George II, and afterwards, so his grandson assures us, to ‘every crowned head in Europe’. He was as famous for his womanising as for his knowledge of ophthalmology, but most famous, perhaps, for his habit of prefacing every operation he performed with a long speech in praise of his own skill, composed in what he claimed was ‘the true Ciceronian’, with each main verb cunningly held back to the end of the sentence ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miles Ahead’, 19 May 2016

Miles Ahead 
directed by Don Cheadle.
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... The places​ were Philadelphia and New York, the names were John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and a few others, heirs to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, spoken of with awe in every version of the story. Something called West Coast jazz, thought by many to be an oxymoron, was making itself heard in the persons of Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Shelly Manne and Dave Brubeck ...

I want to be an Admiral

N.A.M. Rodger: The Age of Sail, 30 July 2020

Sons of the Waves: The Common Seaman in the Heroic Age of Sail 1740-1840 
by Stephen Taylor.
Yale, 490 pp., £20, April, 978 0 300 24571 4
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... it is still possible to work aloft as a topman, encountering many of the same dangers as Stephen Taylor’s subjects did – but few of those who write about seamen have ever gone aloft on a dirty night to lay out on a yard and hand sail. There is at least one modern authority (Sam Willis) who deliberately went to sea in square rig to learn the trade of a ...
Dust-bowl Migrants in the American Imagination 
by Charles Shindo.
Kansas, 252 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 7006 0810 9
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In the Country of Country 
by Nicholas Dawidoff.
Faber, 365 pp., £12.99, June 1997, 0 571 19174 6
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... skies for days at a time. The ‘Okies’ headed west in their overloaded jalopies along the 1400 miles of Route 66 to Central Valley, California, but only a minority found work, and even that was temporary, poorly paid and back-breaking. Many migrants were forced to live along roadsides and on waste ground, washing and going to the toilet in ditches. Some ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 15 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... In​ 1619, for a bet, John Taylor – prolific poet, proud Londoner, waterman, prankster, anti-pollution campaigner, barman, literary celebrity, palindrome enthusiast (‘Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwel’) – sailed forty miles down the Thames to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in a boat made from brown paper ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... said, ‘I have the feeling of the conclusion of the age of the prophets.’The pianist Cecil Taylor performed an elegy of shimmering delicacy,1 punctuated by hints of an impending storm. Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son, gave a stately reading on soprano saxophone of Coleman’s 1959 composition ‘Peace’, with Geri Allen on piano. The tenor ...

Powers of Darkness

Michael Taylor: Made by Free Hands, 21 October 2021

Not Made by Slaves: Ethical Capitalism in the Age of Abolition 
by Bronwen Everill.
Harvard, 318 pp., £31.95, September 2020, 978 0 674 24098 8
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... of their wares a vital but often difficult task. With supply chains stretching for thousands of miles across continents and oceans, there was ample opportunity for the dishonest seller to put forward counterfeits in order to gain a higher price. The solution lay in credit, or at least in the personal and social credit that was an essential element of ...
... British mainland triggered protests and uprisings across the imperial periphery as the historian Miles Taylor has shown. The transportation en masse of potential trouble-makers from England and Ireland triggered protests in Australia and the Cape Colony. To keep sugar cheap the British government abandoned the system of tariff walls known as ‘imperial ...

How to Get Rich

Laleh Khalili: Who owns the oil?, 23 September 2021

The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources 
by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy.
Random House Business, 410 pp., £20, February, 978 1 84794 265 4
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... Rotterdam​ city centre sits a few miles inland from the North Sea, its skyscrapers and office buildings lining the New Meuse River, a tributary of the Rhine. A ferry tour takes you past ship repair yards, grain silos, terminals receiving coal and iron ore for Ruhr Valley industries, and even a massive orange juice storage facility that receives its cargo from Latin America ...

Yikes

Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... I was raised partly by Mennonites. My hometown is Saskatoon, a small city about three hundred miles from Steinbach in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. My mother was a lawyer who hired women to clean the house and to look after my sister and me. Many of the women she employed came from nearby Mennonite communities. I remember them as a long line ...

Liquidator

Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 19 August 2010

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... an exaggerated relish that suggests insecurity. In this, he was unlike the much tougher A.J.P. Taylor, who came to Oxford from middle-class Lancashire and was able to view the place with affectionate detachment. Taylor got on sturdily with his work. Trevor-Roper let himself be drawn into energy-sapping college ...

Holy Terrors

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 December 1986

‘Elizabeth’: The Author of ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ 
by Karen Usborne.
Bodley Head, 341 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 370 30887 5
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Alison Uttley: The Life of a Country Child 
by Denis Judd.
Joseph, 264 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2449 9
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Richmal Crompton: The Woman behind William 
by Mary Cadogan.
Allen and Unwin, 169 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 04 928054 6
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... to become pregnant – and endured the correct society of Berlin. Then she was transferred ninety miles away to Nasserheide, the Count’s vast derelict estate in Pomerania. It was there, during the blissful months of his absence on business, that the idea of a garden came to her. Whether it ever actually existed, apart from the great pines and lilacs which ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Sokal 2.0, 25 October 2018

... the one in Nottingham any Saturday night – a sign by the loos plaintively reads: MIAMI, 4378 MILES —>.) The ethnography of Hooters culture by ‘Richard Baldwin’ – one of the collaborators’ pseudonyms, actually the borrowed name of one of their friends, a 71-year-old former champion bodybuilder and emeritus professor of the humanities at Gulf ...

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