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J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... In the opening chapter of A Study in Scarlet Dr Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes says, ‘How are you?’ and adds: ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ Watson asks in astonishment: ‘How on earth did you know that?’ and Holmes, ‘chuckling to himself’, answers: ‘Never mind ...

Alphabeted

Barbara Everett: Coleridge the Modernist, 7 August 2003

Coleridge’s Notebooks: A Selection 
edited by Seamus Perry.
Oxford, 264 pp., £17.99, June 2002, 0 19 871201 4
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works I: Poems (Reading Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1608 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00483 8
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works II: Poems (Variorum Text) 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1528 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 00484 6
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The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Vol. XVI: Poetical Works III: Plays 
edited by J.C.C. Mays.
Princeton, 1620 pp., £135, November 2001, 0 691 09883 2
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... of the poetry have followed this tendency: it is not rare now for critics like, for instance, Richard Holmes in his agreeable volumes of biography, to find Coleridge’s crown as a poet among the ‘Conversation Poems’ – quietly meditative post-Cowper colloquial writing such as ‘This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison’, and ‘Frost at ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley, 8 February 2001

Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... Richard Holmes published Shelley: The Pursuit in 1974. More than a decade later, in Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer (1985), he recalled how obsessive his engagement gradually became, not just with Shelley, but with that whole group of English expatriates associated with him, as it moved from Geneva through Italy – Bagni di Lucca, Este, Venice, Rome, Naples, Ravenna, Pisa – shedding some members and adding others, before finally disintegrating when Shelley and Edward Williams were drowned off Leghorn in July 1822 ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... not only with two serious recent biographies, of Wordsworth by Stephen Gill and of Coleridge by Richard Holmes, but with Susan Eilenberg’s persuasive book-length treatment of this very subject. Mason underplays the psychological interest of Wordsworth’s unceremonious takeover of the second edition, and (surely) its effect on Coleridge. He atones ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... romance about a man, the heiress he loves and an anthropomorphic cat – comes from Jack Holmes, a handsome, closeted editorial assistant who works with him at a literary quarterly in Manhattan. Jack is in love with Will, but his ardent affection and oversized penis fail to bend Will’s heterosexuality. Jack holds out hope that Will’s novel may ...

Tantrums

C.K. Stead, 22 February 1996

Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... argument, as there are, however, in recent alternatives to it. In his Shelley: The Pursuit (1974) Richard Holmes decided that both Claire and Elise had been pregnant by Shelley, that Claire’s pregnancy had aborted, and Elena was Elise’s baby. Claire Tomalin, in Shelley and His World (1980) argued more reasonably that the child was Claire’s; and in ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... to the country to take up bee-keeping, and only one other such person did that – Sherlock Holmes. Another such person, who left the Service – ‘D16 as they call it now’ – after ‘the fracas with the KGB in Cheltenham’, gets restive in his Cotswold retreat. ‘I had felt like Mole all that day,’ he says, innocently referring to The Wind in ...

Whinny Moor

Blake Morrison, 2 April 1987

... life, the old man gave them to the soul to protect its feet whilst crossing the thorny moor. Richard Blakeborough, Wit, Character, Folklore and Customs of the North Riding of Yorkshire (1911) I was back walking on Lothersdale Moor, through ling, blackthorn and blips of sheepshit, over dry-stone walls and up kestrels’ airstreams, back with the becks ...

Kipling and the Irish

Owen Dudley Edwards, 4 February 1988

Something of Myself 
by Rudyard Kipling, edited by Robert Hampson and Richard Holmes.
Penguin, 220 pp., £3.95, January 1987, 0 14 043308 2
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Stalky & Co 
by Rudyard Kipling, introduced by Isabel Quigley.
Oxford, 325 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 19 281660 8
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Kim 
by Rudyard Kipling, introduced by Alan Sandison.
Oxford, 306 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 19 281651 9
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... letters supposedly showing Parnell’s complicity in the Phoenix Park murders had been forged by Richard Pigott. The Commission Report did seem to support the Tory case that Irish agrarian violence had been in part because of, and not in spite of, the Land League’s advocacy of non-violent action. But after the Pigott debacle who was ready to make capital ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... can be put down to Post-Modern faddishness, though vampires have a more venerable pedigree, as Richard Davenport-Hines notes in his agreeable romp through Gothic art from Salvator Rosa to Damien Hirst. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, now translated into over forty languages, has exerted an enduring fascination since its publication in 1897, with Dracula ...

Pity the monsters

Richard Altick, 18 December 1980

The Elephant Man 
by Bernard Pomerance.
Faber, 71 pp., £2.25, June 1980, 0 571 11569 1
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The Elephant Man: the Book of the Film 
by Joy Kuhn.
Virgin, 90 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 9780907080091
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The Elephant Man 
by Christine Sparks.
Futura, 272 pp., £1.25, August 1980, 0 7088 1942 7
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The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences 
by Frederick Treves.
Star, 126 pp., £95, August 1980, 0 352 30747 1
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The Elephant Man and Other Freaks 
by Sian Richards.
Futura, 197 pp., £1.25, October 1980, 0 7088 1927 3
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The True History of the Elephant Man 
by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.
Allison and Busby, 190 pp., £6.95, March 1980, 0 85031 353 8
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... gentleman’s dress suit. It might almost be mistaken for the dénouement of an early Sherlock Holmes story: Dr John H. Watson describing the scene in an East End police station when Holmes literally unmasks the man with an old scar running across his face from eye to chin which turned up his lip into a perpetual ...

Ballooning

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 June 1986

The Unknown Conan Doyle: Letters to the Press 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 377 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 436 13303 2
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... When in December 1926 the creator of Hercule Poirot disappeared the creator of Sherlock Holmes somehow possessed himself of one of her gloves, and at once took it to a Mr Horace Leaf with a result which he describes in a letter to the Morning Post, written on 16 December (ten days, that is, after Agatha Christie had vanished), and now reprinted in the present volume of selections from Conan Doyle’s letters to the press ...

70 Centimetres and Rising

John Whitfield: Plate tectonics, 3 February 2005

The Earth: An Intimate History 
by Richard Fortey.
Harper Perennial, 501 pp., £9.99, March 2005, 0 00 655137 8
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... and America. One of the few geologists convinced by the evidence for continental drift was Arthur Holmes at the University of Durham. In 1927, he suggested that the radioactive elements heating the Earth’s interior could provide the power to move continents. The hot rocks would rise, then fall when they reached the cooler upper layers, creating a convection ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two, 15 October 1998

The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... anxiety in most beholders. Take the carpet of jagged slates spread by (or to the order of) Richard Long through Duveen’s sculpture hall, as seen in the photograph on Spalding’s dust-jacket. The elect smile serenely at the attractive pattern. Others pick their way around it with care, propping their minds open, nervously feigning a relish, gradually ...

What’s in it for Obama?

Stephen Holmes: The Drone Presidency, 18 July 2013

The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth 
by Mark Mazzetti.
Penguin, 381 pp., £22.50, April 2013, 978 1 59420 480 7
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... it was they were killing’. Before acknowledging that ‘every drone strike is an execution,’ Richard Blee, the former head of the CIA’s bin Laden-hunting unit, told Mazzetti that the CIA lowered the bar for identifying targets because American spies no longer ‘wanted to know who we were killing before anyone pulled the trigger’. They no longer ...

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