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Plimsoll’s Story

Stephen Sedley, 28 April 2011

The Oxford History of the Laws of England 1820-1914: Vol. XI, English Legal System; Vol. XII, Private Law; Vol. XIII, Fields of Development 
edited by William Cornish et al.
Oxford, 3571 pp., £495, February 2010, 978 0 19 925883 3
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... phase are situated in Cambridge, Otago, Keele, London, Middlesex and Cardiff. The doyen of them, William Cornish, has a distinguished record both as a legal historian – his and Geoffrey Clark’s Law and Society in England 1750-1950 remains an important work – and as an authority on intellectual property, on which he contributes an excellent section ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands, 5 March 2015

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... Newlyn and north of Sennen. Marsden believes that the stone artefacts which crown so many of the Cornish uplands – the circles, henges, quoits and megaliths – were made and placed there because people found those heights important. Natural landmarks were valued, even worshipped, and people were impelled to carve and erect the liths to mark and celebrate ...

Make-Believe

Patricia Beer, 8 November 1979

The Intruder 
by Gillian Tindall.
Hodder, 286 pp., £5.95
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Mother Can You Hear Me? 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 269 pp., £5.90
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Treasures of Time 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 199 pp., £4.95
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Wild Nights 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 134 pp., £4.50
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... deal of imagination. In all this realism there is one serious false note: the Trewicks’ name is Cornish and they live in Cornwall, and yet, though it is made clear that they do not speak Standard English, they do not sound in the least Cornish. The book has vitality and staying-power. The chief reflection one is left ...

In Bexhill

Peter Campbell: Ben Nicholson, 20 November 2008

... in England was an obvious source of inspiration. The naive paintings Alfred Wallis made of Cornish harbours and ships offered access to the unsophisticated directness that Parisian artists had found some decades before in African sculpture. The Bexhill exhibition does show white reliefs from the 1930s, but it cuts off at 1958, when Nicholson moved to ...

Vitality

John Cannon, 10 May 1990

A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 803 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 19 822828 7
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Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832 
by Frank O’Gorman.
Oxford, 445 pp., £40, August 1989, 0 19 820056 0
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... of people who do not always turn up in textbooks: Mary Tofts, ‘the rabbit woman’; the Rev. William Dodd, forger; Elizabeth Brownrigg, murderess; the Rev. Augustus Toplady, Evangelical; Elizabeth Chudleigh, duchess and bigamist, and the like. The straight political content is considerably reduced, but there is more on manners and ...

Learned Insane

Simon Schaffer: The Lunar Men, 17 April 2003

The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 588 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 571 19647 0
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... no grand assemblies were organised by its fellowship. According to the son of the botanist William Withering, another Lunar man, it was ‘one of the best private philosophical clubs in the kingdom’, broken up, so it was said, when Tory reaction in the wake of the French Revolution brought politics too near to its otherwise tranquil ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland, 19 July 2012

... to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the beneficiary of a recent family fortune made from Cornish mines. By now the Tour was also less of an exclusively male rite of passage. This second generation of tourists often went later in life and took their wives with them. Nor was the cartoon image of the accompanying tutor as a put-upon bear-leader ...

At the Shore

Inigo Thomas, 30 August 2018

... on the beach’ was the title of a 19th-century song that has become a saying. ‘Dear Henry,’ William James wrote to his physician friend Henry Bowditch, ‘you see that you are not the only pebble on the beach, or toad in the puddle of senile degeneration.’ ‘What is a pebble?’ is the opening sentence of Clarence Ellis’s book The Pebbles on the ...

Truffles for Potatoes

Ferdinand Mount: Little Rosebery, 22 September 2005

Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil 
by Leo McKinstry.
Murray, 626 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 7195 5879 4
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... The schoolmaster William Johnson is remembered for three things, although not under that name. He wrote the most famous of all translations from Greek lyric verse, ‘They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead’; he wrote the words of the ‘Eton Boating Song’; and in a letter to Francis Warre-Cornish, another Eton schoolmaster, he wrote of his pupil, the future Lord Rosebery: ‘I would give you a piece of plate if you would get that lad to work; he is one of those who like the palm without the dust ...

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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... to the lucky and ambitious. Overall they give a vivid sense of the variety of the seafaring life. William Spavens’s Narrative was published by a Louth printer in 1796, and has been reprinted in recent years. Growing up in Cleethorpes on the Lincolnshire coast, he believed that ‘sailors must be happy men to have such opportunities of visiting foreign ...

Praising God

David Underdown, 10 June 1993

Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 428 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 415 03282 2
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... killing, disease, or starvation) during these dreadful years. This may be a bit high (Sir William Petty put the number at between a quarter and a third), but Carlton plausibly argues that even in England a higher percentage of the population died in the civil wars than died in Flanders during the First World War. Carlton’s anecdotal survey has many ...

Door Closing!

Mark Ford: Randall Jarrell, 21 October 2010

Pictures from an Institution: A Comedy 
by Randall Jarrell.
Chicago, 277 pp., £10.50, April 2010, 978 0 226 39375 9
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... to undergraduates, taking his first job at Amherst College in 1917. Pound, Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Hart Crane all lived by other means; though it’s worth pointing out that the poetry and criticism of Eliot in particular, and to a lesser extent of Pound, played a significant role in shaping the curriculum and ...

And Cabbages Too

Patrick Collinson: The Tudors, 22 March 2001

New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 
by Susan Brigden.
Allen Lane, 434 pp., £20, September 2000, 0 7139 9067 8
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... historical entity: only a name and a geographical notion. Towards the end of the 16th century, William Camden published his Britannia, the intention of which was to inform learned Continental readers that the modern English nation state, which was increasingly dominant in the British Isles, was the proud and legitimate successor of a famous Roman ...

What did he think he was?

Tom Shippey: Ælfred the Great, 10 May 2018

Ælfred’s Britain: War and Peace in the Viking Age 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 509 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78408 031 0
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... show the same division: Latin is Q-Italic, with quattuor and quinque.) In ninth-century Britain, Cornish and Welsh were P-Celtic languages, and so was the language of the people whose heroes in Welsh poetic tradition were the gwyr y gogledd, the ‘men of the North’: that is, the inhabitants of south-west Scotland, whose kingdom of Strathclyde reached ...

Guts Benedict

Adam Bradbury, 11 June 1992

The Wrecking Yard 
by Pinckney Benedict.
Secker, 195 pp., £7.99, March 1992, 0 436 20062 7
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Sacred Hunger 
by Barry Unsworth.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £14.99, February 1992, 0 241 13003 4
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The Butcher Boy 
by Patrick McCabe.
Picador, 217 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 9780330323581
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... to adapt a phrase, a prong short of a pitchfork. And whereas Pynchon and Algren, and more recently William Vollman, tend to have sought out big city trash, Benedict is more at home among the rocks and trees with God’s own good dirt. His one fully-committed excursion from the bush, ‘At the Alhambra’, describing a vacation in Nicaragua, is his least ...

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