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Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... creditable. And here figure Mairi MacInnes, Miriam Levine (two), Gerry Loose, Paul Coltman, Richard Dankleff, Robin Ivy, Pete Morgan (two), Phyllis Koestenbaum, Barbara Moore, David MacSweeney (one out of two), Randall Garrison, Donald Stallybrass, Ellery Akers, Peter Abbs, John Hodgen, Andrew Motion, Edwin Drummond, Gregory Harrison, Gordon ...

He fights with flashing weapons

Katherine Rundell: Thomas Wyatt, 6 December 2012

Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest 
by Susan Brigden.
Faber, 714 pp., £30, September 2012, 978 0 571 23584 1
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Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy 
by Nicola Shulman.
Short Books, 378 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 1 906021 11 5
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... counsellor and a bureaucrat of the old school. Henry had remained loyal to Henry Tudor throughout Richard III’s reign, despite starvation and torture; despite, according to legend, being interrogated by Richard himself. ‘Thou servest for moonshine in the water a beggarly fugitive,’ ...

Unpranked Lyre

John Mullan: The Laziness of Thomas Gray, 13 December 2001

Thomas Gray: A Life 
by Robert Mack.
Yale, 718 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 300 08499 4
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... light by Wordsworth, as an example of all that was merely poeticised. In a letter to his friend Richard West, Gray happily declared the very attitudes to poetic diction that Wordsworth was later to detect and condemn. ‘The language of the age is never the language of poetry,’ he observed. By which he meant that it never should be. ‘Our poetry ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... on slave labour imported from Africa. In a chapter on the development of the Caribbean islands, Richard Sheridan underestimates the role of slave labour. ‘The New World plantation represented the capitalistic exploitation of land,’ he writes, ‘with a combination of African labour, European technology and management, Asiatic and American ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare, 6 November 2003

Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... conspicuous if not the most talented writer ever to live in Stratford-upon-Avon. Her household at Mason Croft, the grand building on Church Street that now houses the Shakespeare Institute, included not only her lesbian partner but a gondolier, brought from Venice with his boat to chauffeur them elegantly up and down the Avon. Did Corelli really believe that ...

Stardom

Megan Vaughan: Explorers of the Nile, 8 March 2012

Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure 
by Tim Jeal.
Faber, 510 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 571 24975 6
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... them? In the course of twenty years in the mid-19th century a group of British explorers – Richard Burton, John Hanning Speke, David Livingstone, Samuel Baker (with his wife, Florence), Henry Morton Stanley and James Grant – slogged out on their respective expeditions through East and Central Africa, and engaged in an intense and bitter battle over ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... football pitches, changing rooms erected to replace shower blocks opened in the dark ages by Wendy Richard of EastEnders. Back in the 1820s Gas Company funds were misappropriated, illegal payments made to council officials and stock accounts falsified. Now, in more enlightened times, when bureaucratic malpractice is exposed and celebrated every ...

Wodehouse in America

D.A.N. Jones, 20 May 1982

P.G. Wodehouse: A Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse on Wodehouse: Bring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. Wodehouse: A Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G. Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... some of them lazily written but four of them, at least, rather good. Three of the four are by Richard Usborne, the king of the traditional Wodehouse buffs. The other is by Benny Green, the new broom. Oxford University and the Pierpont Morgan Library are both relevant to Wodehouse’s life. He did not attend a university, though he would have liked to: but ...

Johnson’s Business

Keith Walker, 7 August 1980

A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... Cosmologia Sacra, William Derham’s Physico-Theology, Thomas Burnett’s Theory of the Earth, Richard Bentley’s Sermons on the Boyle Foundations, George Cheyne’s Philosophical Principles, Henry More’s Antidote against Atheism, Matthew Hale’s Primitive Origination of Mankind, William Camden’s Remains, Newton’s Optics and works by Sir Kenelm ...

Writing Absurdity

Adam Shatz: Chester Himes, 26 April 2018

Chester B. Himes: A Biography 
by Lawrence P. Jackson.
Norton, 606 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 393 06389 9
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... out in a group of ambitious black male writers who came of age in the 1930s and 1940s and included Richard Wright (born 1908), Ralph Ellison (1914) and James Baldwin (1924), Himes has never quite entered the pantheon. His peers were condescending: Wright never took him seriously as an artist; Ellison, who saw him as little more than an ex-con with a pen, joked ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... Cambridge. On parade (on King’s Parade in fact) just after ten, where the calming presence of Richard Lloyd Morgan, the chaplain of King’s, waits to shepherd me to the Senior Common Room. It’s already crowded with dons, some, since it’s the university sermon, presumably heads of houses.* I manage to avoid a chat by settling into a corner to con my ...

Imagine Tintin

Michael Hofmann: Basil Bunting, 9 January 2014

A Strong Song Tows Us: The Life of Basil Bunting 
by Richard Burton.
Infinite Ideas, 618 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 1 908984 18 0
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... might nominate Trakl, Laforgue, Keats and Shelley (I don’t think I breathed while I was reading Richard Holmes’s Shelley: The Pursuit all those years ago); for a rare, artful blending of long and short, one can’t do better than Rimbaud and Hölderlin; and for the latter, Hamsun, Yeats, Shaw – and Bunting. Incidentally, or maybe not, Bunting also shows ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... autumn I bought, at Deighton Bell in Trinity Street, a copy of George III and the Politicians by Richard Pares, a book I have still, my name written in it by a friend, as I disliked my handwriting then as I do now. It was a detailed, allusive book, demanding a more thorough knowledge of 18th-century politics than a schoolboy could be expected to have, but I ...

Outcasts and Desperados

Adam Shatz: Richard Wright’s Double Vision, 7 October 2021

The Man Who Lived Underground 
by Richard Wright.
Library of America, 250 pp., £19.99, April, 978 1 59853 676 8
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... When​ Richard Wright sailed to France in 1946, he was 38 years old and already a legend. He was America’s most famous black writer, the author of two books hailed as classics the moment they were published: the 1940 novel Native Son and the 1945 memoir Black Boy. By ‘choosing exile’, as he put it, he hoped both to free himself from American racism and to put an ocean between himself and the Communist Party of the United States, in which he’d first come to prominence as a writer of proletarian fiction only to find himself accused of subversive, Trotskyist tendencies ...

Northern Lights

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 April 1984

Literature and Gentility in Scotland 
by David Daiches.
Edinburgh, 114 pp., £6.50, June 1982, 9780852244388
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New Perspectives on the Politics and Culture of Early Modern Scotland 
edited by John Dwyer, Roger Mason and Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 340 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 85976 066 9
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Adam Smith 
by R.H. Campbell and A.S. Skinner.
Croom Helm, 231 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 9780709907299
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Sister Peg 
edited by David Raynor.
Cambridge, 127 pp., £15.50, June 1981, 0 521 24299 1
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Boswell: The Applause of the Jury 1782-1785 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 419 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 434 43945 2
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Muir of Huntershill 
by Christina Bewley.
Oxford, 212 pp., £8.50, May 1981, 0 19 211768 8
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... their declarations, much hotter. Another of the new voices, in this collection of essays, that of Richard Scher, is raised to point out that over-ambitious manipulation and political ruthlessness by the Moderates in 1762 produced a reaction uniting, for a while, the middling and lower orders of Edinburgh. Indeed occasionally in the 1760s there can be heard a ...

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