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Tom Crewe: Labour’s Best Cards, 29 June 2017

... find a way of carrying on, however pathetically, her position visibly untenable. Or he could do as Henry Campbell-Bannerman did in 1905 and form a minority government simply in order to call an election. In both cases, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – scheduled for repeal in the Tory manifesto, but still very much alive and kicking on the statute book ...

The Wrong Stuff

Christopher Hitchens, 1 April 1983

The Purple Decades 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 396 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 224 02944 4
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... literal. What those three paragraphs have in common are the three things that go to make up the Tom Wolfe effect. One, a glibness that is designed for speed-reading. Two, a facility with rapidly cross-cut images and references: a show of learning. Three, a strongly marked conservatism. It is the third of these features, Wolfe’s subliminal advertising for ...


Tom Shippey, 2 February 1989

A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church 
by Christopher Hill.
Oxford, 394 pp., £19.50, October 1988, 0 19 812818 5
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The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History 
by Anne Hudson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £48, July 1988, 0 19 822762 0
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... only with minor details. The Lollard Disendowment Bill is a document allegedly presented to Henry IV and the House of Commons in (perhaps) 1410, suggesting that the Church should forfeit designated temporalities to the value of 322,000 marks per year, to provide for 15 new earls, 1500 knights, 6000 squires and 100 almshouses – as well as 15 new ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity, 31 July 2008

The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... of English kings anxious to claim ancient authority, prestige and legitimacy for themselves. Henry Tudor even had the bright idea of calling his eldest son Arthur, presumably in the hope that at the appropriate time – for the legend of the ‘Once and Future King’ was already well established – gullible people would say: ‘Arthur has come ...


John Sutherland, 23 March 1995

Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 474 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7181 3641 1
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... for the would-be popular biographer is evident in his entry in the Concise DNB: Huxley, Thomas Henry (1825-1895), man of science; studied at Charing Cross Hospital; announced, 1845, discovery of the layer of cells in root sheath of hair which now bears his name; MB London, 1845; made assistant surgeon on HMS Rattlesnake 1846-50, investigations relating to ...

A House and its Heads

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1980

Setting the World on Fire 
by Angus Wilson.
Secker, 296 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 9780436576041
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... Setting the World on Fire is in two minds. It embodies the minds in two brothers, Piers Mosson and Tom Mosson: the one with his head in the clouds, fated to become a red-carpet knight of the theatre, sure of his direction and of his directing; the other, with his feet on the ground, ready, steady, and going to be a lawyer. Each has sense and sensibility but in ...

Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... career has been expertly promoted by his agents and various publishers. His second novel, Peeping Tom (1984), was well received – both here and in America, which is a notoriously hard market for the English comic novelist to crack. (Changing Places and Stanley’s Women, two of the funniest novels ever written, were initially turned down by a series of US ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell, 11 May 2006

Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... out of an instinct for self-preservation: having seen, by chance, a couple of older teenagers, Tom Yew and Debby Crombie, having sex in the woods, he considers telling his friend Dean. But: The chain of gossip laid itself out link by link. I’d tell Moran. Moran’d tell his sister Kelly. Kelly’d tell Pete Redmarley’s sister Ruth. Ruth Redmarley’d ...


Richard Stern, 15 August 1991

... gave the first of the four annual Frederick Ives Carpenter Lectures at the University of Chicago.1 Tom Mitchell, chairman of the English Department and editor of Critical Inquiry, the English-language journal in which Derrida most often publishes, introduced him to a crowd that filled not only the seats and aisles of the Max Palevsky Auditorium, but the ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... most staunch supporters in the 1930s. Few were more unwavering in their support than his brother Henry, yet even he complained the previous year that ‘sometimes you remind me of a gentleman in full evening dress and white gloves attempting to put something right with the kitchen plumbing without soiling his attire.’ It comes as no surprise when the great ...

Say not the struggle

J.M. Winter, 1 November 1984

The Labour Governments: 1945-51 
by Henry Pelling.
Macmillan, 313 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 333 36356 6
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... One of the earliest and most prolific of this generation of more detached historians of labour is Henry Pelling. From his early account of the Origins of the Labour Party to his histories of trade-unionism, the Labour Party and the Communist Party, all models of compression and precision, he has supplied essential works of reference for anyone embarking on ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife, 17 March 2016

... in the first term, was largely a third Bill Clinton term: Rahm Emanuel, Lawrence Summers, Tom Donilon, Leon Panetta, John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were called back and held over. The interlude of subsequent personal enrichment by Clinton, trading on her prestige and inside knowledge, has drawn attention in recent days, after the revelation of her ...


Ian Hamilton: Francis Hope, and Tom and Vic, 15 March 1984

... have been quite so vehement in more relaxed conditions? Would he, for instance, have included Henry Green’s Party Going in his 99 if this ‘carefully wrought poem’ had been favoured by the BMC? Probably not. Thus, Kingsley Amis’s Anti-Death League more or less has to be preferred to Take a girl like you, Iris Murdoch’s The Bell to her The ...
From Bauhaus to Our House 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 143 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 02030 7
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... Tom Wolfe’s earlier squib against Modernism, The Painted Word, was a reasonable succès de scandale among those with enough interest in the New York School of painting to want to defend it, but went little further than that. From Bauhaus to Our House, on the other hand, has achieved the unprecedented feat (in architectural publishing) of making its way, albeit briefly, into the American best-seller lists, along with all those diets, cats and Barbara Cartland ...

Malice! Malice!

Stephen Sedley: Thomas More’s Trial, 5 April 2012

Thomas More’s Trial by Jury 
edited by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Louis Karlin and Gerard Wegemer.
Boydell, 240 pp., £55, September 2011, 978 1 84383 629 2
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... a wretch, I wene, better worthy.’ And he was not, as it turned out, a man for quite all seasons. Henry VIII, whose faithful servant More professed to be and for the most part was, was a self-willed tyrant whose last resort against the papal refusal to sanction his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn was to dethrone the pope as ...

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