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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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... cargoes); 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 ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: An Unexpected Experience, 6 December 1984

... The study of English political history has suffered a grievous loss with the death of Stephen Koss in New York on 25 October last. Though only 44, hardly more than half my age, Stephen had already established himself as an authority of the first rank on British political history in the 19th and 20th centuries ...

Straw Ghosts

Nicholas Humphrey, 2 October 1980

This house is haunted: An Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist 
by Guy Lyon Playfair.
Souvenir, 288 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 285 62443 1
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Science and the Supernatural 
by John Taylor.
Temple Smith, 180 pp., £7.50, June 1980, 0 85117 191 5
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... is Mr Playfair doing writing a book about him? For an answer we may perhaps turn to Professor John Taylor, who has known Fred – or rather a mate of his called Uri – from both sides. Eight years ago Uri Geller – ex-fashion model, conjurer and convicted con-man – hit out television screens with a miraculous display of spoon-bending. The effect on the ...

Misbehavin’

Susannah Clapp, 23 July 1987

A Life with Alan: The Diary of A.J.P. Taylor’s Wife, Eva, from 1978 to 1985 
by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 241 12118 3
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The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves 
by Jocelyn Rickards.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 297 79119 2
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The Beaverbrook Girl 
by Janet Aitken Kidd.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 00 217602 5
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... When the London Review of Books began to run a Diary in 1982, A.J.P. Taylor was one of its authors. He always delivered to an exact length, well before the deadline, and often in person. A new editorial assistant, handed copy by the small seventy-five-year-old in a deerstalker who had scaled the steep stairs to our earlier offices, decided he must be a Mercury messenger ...

Plots

Stephen Bann, 4 November 1982

The Prince buys the Manor 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Chatto, 216 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2651 5
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Faultline 
by Sheila Ortiz Taylor.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 7043 3900 5
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Scenes from Metropolitan Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 214 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 333 34203 8
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Constance, or Solitary Practices 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 394 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11757 0
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Mickelsson’s Ghosts 
by John Gardner.
Secker, 566 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 17251 8
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Beware of pity 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Phyllis Blewitt and Trevor Blewitt.
Cape, 354 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 02057 9
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... does her satire strike a genuinely fresh, anarchistic note. For the American author Sheila Ortiz Taylor, the stakes of satire are higher and more carefully calculated. When Mrs Huxley requires a simile to denote the process of gathering information, she selects one from close at hand: Lady Evers is described as probing gently for the news ‘rather as people ...

Escaping from Belfast

V.S. Pritchett, 5 February 1981

Green Avenue: The Life and Writings of Forrest Reid 1875-1947 
by Brian Taylor.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 521 22801 8
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... Russell Burlingham – found this subject difficult to discuss in 1953. So, even now, does Brian Taylor, but he has treated it with delicacy and understanding. If Forrest Reid was ‘a case’, Taylor shows that ‘a case’ is in itself a crude simplification of a life. All ‘cases’ are different: Reid was an instance ...

Mismatch

Rosemary Ashton, 17 October 1985

Troubled Lives: John and Sarah Austin 
by Lotte Hamburger and Joseph Hamburger.
Toronto, 288 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 8020 2521 8
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... was ‘Mrs Lewes’ (and soon to be ‘George Eliot’, too). Being Mrs Austin meant for Sarah Taylor a life of toil and sacrifice, though it is probable that she was at least less unhappy than her tortured husband. The story of their marriage is ghastly, comic, and dismaying. It has the interest not only of the particular case but also of the illustrative ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB, 26 October 1989

... to be ‘judgmental’. Reviewers are paid to be judgmental, and few are more judgmental than D.J. Taylor. Writing in the Independent during the present run-up to the Booker Prize award, he asks: ‘Where, in any international literary framework, is the British writer who matters?’ Not one, he suggests, can stand comparison with Marquez, Kundera, Tom ...
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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... Lange and Arthur Rothstein, folklorists working for the Library of Congress, the economist Paul Taylor, the sociologist Carey McWilliams, and even Woodie Guthrie, who provided the words and music. The migrants were ‘plain-folks’, patriotic Americans, individualistic, distrustful of big government and big solutions to their problems, Shindo says, while ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Hungarians and Falklanders, 17 February 1983

... Parliament, a topic on which I do not judge. However, there can be no doubt that the Crown of St Stephen, now happily restored to Hungary, is the oldest regalia in Europe. It has a steady stream of Hungarian visitors. No state in Eastern Europe and few in Western Europe has a continuous history to compare with the Hungarian. The treatment of historians and ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Death of a Historian , 30 December 1982

... the Blunt affair a couple of years ago. Death has claimed another considerable historian: Captain Stephen Roskill RN, who died on 4 November. Roskill had an active-service career almost until he reached the age of 50 and started as an historian when lesser mortals think of retirement. In 1949 he became the Official Naval Historian and produced The War at Sea ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: A historian should have more sense, 6 May 1982

... international gathering there. Passing through the Piazza San Marco, I noticed Wystan Auden and Stephen Spender at a table in the Café Florian. I joined them. While we talked, a photographer approached and took some pictures. One of these appears in innumerable books and articles. It shows Auden and Spender deep in conversation. An elbow obtrudes on to the ...

Diary

John Upton: Damilola Taylor, 4 January 2001

... about three o’clock in the afternoon, on a steel-grey day two weeks after the death of Damilola Taylor. The centre of Peckham is thronged with police officers, all wearing high-visibility luminous yellow vests, and with equipment strapped around their waists on webbing belts, inflating the clothing around their upper bodies. I ask again for directions ...

Shakespeare and the Literary Police

Jonathan Bate, 29 September 1988

The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Vol. V: Lectures 1808-1819 On Literature 
edited by R.A. Foakes.
Princeton/Routledge, 604 pp., £55, December 1987, 0 691 09872 7
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... A.C. Bradley’s Shakespearean Tragedy, and that its greatest practitioner was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But if one wished to obtain Coleridge’s seminal book on Shakespeare, as one could obtain Shakespearean Tragedy or Wilson Knight’s The Wheel of Fire, one would have some difficulty. Characteristically, Coleridge never got around to publishing ...

Flub-Dub

Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 16 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... The Red Badge of Courage​ is generally the only thing about Stephen Crane that readers remember now. The novel, first published in 1895 when Crane was only 23, is short and centres on the battlefield experience of a man younger still, Henry Fleming, who worries that in the test of war he will prove a coward, and then does ...

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