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Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... or am unhappy.’ This is Boswell in 1777, at the age of 37. In 1789 a letter to the depressing Cornish vicar William Temple reports: ‘I may have many gratifications but the comfort of life is at an end.’ His friend and master, Samuel Johnson, is dead. His ‘valuable spouse’, a spouse much deserted, has just ...

Men in Love

Paul Delany, 3 September 1987

Women in Love 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by David Farmer, Lindeth Vasey and John Worthen.
Cambridge, 633 pp., £40, May 1987, 0 521 23565 0
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The Letters of D.H. Lawrence: Vol. IV, 1921-24 
edited by Warren Roberts, James Boulton and Elizabeth Mansfield.
Cambridge, 627 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 521 23113 2
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... John Middleton Murry. In the summer of 1918 Lawrence probably consummated his infatuation with the Cornish farmer, William Hocking; then, just as he was putting the finishing touches on Women in Love, came his involvement with the failing marriage of Godwin and Rosalind Baynes. Lawrence wrote Godwin a crucial letter about ...

Lunacies

Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... In the summer of 1797, William Godwin set out on a tour of the Midlands. He had hoped to visit, among others, Erasmus Darwin, but finding the naturalist away from home, Godwin asked Darwin’s wife for a letter of introduction to Robert Bage instead. To his surprise, Mary Darwin said she could not properly provide one since, though Bage was her husband’s ‘very particular friend’, she wasn’t sure she had ever set eyes on him ...

A Keen Demand for Camberwells

Rosemary Hill: Location, Location, Location, 21 March 2019

Marketable Values: Inventing the Property Market in Modern Britain 
by Desmond Fitz-Gibbon.
Chicago, 240 pp., £79, January 2019, 978 0 226 58416 4
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... get Keating. We’re going to fucking get you.’ While investigating the case in London, the Cornish police visited galleries, dealers and ‘known associates’ of the suspects, including an antique-dealer friend of mine. He answered their questions as fully as he thought prudent. Then, as the police were leaving, one of them turned in the doorway, just ...

How are you finding it here?

Patrick Sims-Williams: Celts, 28 October 1999

The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? 
by Simon James.
British Museum, 160 pp., £6.99, March 1999, 0 7141 2165 7
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... linguistics in connection with the discovery that ancient British (the ancestor of Welsh, Cornish and Breton) and ancient Gaulish, which had been known to be related since the time of Tacitus, were also related to the Gaelic language of Ireland and Scotland. The first convincing demonstration of this fact was made by the polymath Edward Lhuyd, of the ...

Yearning for Polar Seas

James Hamilton-Paterson: North, 1 September 2005

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule 
by Joanna Kavenna.
Viking, 334 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 670 91395 2
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The Idea of North 
by Peter Davidson.
Reaktion, 271 pp., £16.95, January 2005, 1 86189 230 6
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... this large island. Newfoundland’s waters had been exploited by Spanish, Portuguese and Cornish fishermen since at least the 16th century. Theirs was a hugely profitable industry that supplied the whole of Catholic Europe with salt cod and made many fortunes long before the Cape Codders arrived to join in the plunder of this seemingly inexhaustible ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... look now’ was filmed not by Hitchcock, but by Nicolas Roeg. In the entry on Mrs Warre-Cornish the Companion attributes to the author two novels actually written by her husband. At the age of 17, Florence Warden was taught by finishing governesses – she was not employed as one. Elizabeth Linington writes her Vic Varallo (not ‘Vatallo’) novels ...

A Dreadful Drumming

Theo Tait: Ghosts, 6 June 2013

The Undiscovered Country: Journeys among the Dead 
by Carl Watkins.
Bodley Head, 318 pp., £20, January 2012, 978 1 84792 140 6
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A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof 
by Roger Clarke.
Particular, 360 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 1 84614 333 5
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... Dead, Carl Watkins tells one of the earliest ‘veridical’ English ghost stories, recorded by William of Newburgh, an Augustinian canon in Yorkshire in the 1190s. It’s a tale Bram Stoker could have used, one that could feature in the more old-fashioned sort of horror film even today. A local man who became convinced that his wife was unfaithful hid in ...

Gurney’s Flood

Donald Davie, 3 February 1983

Geoffrey Grigson: Collected Poems 1963-1980 
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 419 4Show More
The Cornish Dancer 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 64 pp., £4.95, June 1982, 0 436 18805 8
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 420 8
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses: A Critical Collection 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, £9.95, November 1982, 0 85031 437 2
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Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney 
edited by P.J. Kavanagh.
Oxford, 284 pp., £12, September 1982, 0 19 211940 0
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War Letters 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 271 pp., £12, February 1983, 0 85635 408 2
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... re-crosses the Channel. It can only be at his instigation that we are advised on the jacket of The Cornish Dancer to regard Notes from an Old Country as ‘the best gloss on his own poems’. And it’s no good objecting that the Channel-crossing has this effect on him: others of us have found it among the luxuries of expatriation that we can extend to the ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 2 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... he lists Henry Vanderborcht, John Vander-heydon, Adrian Van-Diest, Sir Anthony Vandyck, William Vander-velde, Francis Vanzoon, Herman Verelst and F. de Vorsterman, and with a little more diligence he could easily have doubled this collection of foreign Englishmen. Of the 106 painters accorded a biographical sketch by Buckeridge, 55 were immigrants ...

Sweet Sin

J.P. Stern, 5 August 1982

Marbot 
by Wolfgang Hildesheimer.
Suhrkamp, 326 pp., May 1981, 3 518 03205 4
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... different as the North African desert, Norwegian villages, Mozart’s Vienna and (repeatedly) the Cornish coast, some of his early work has the dreamlike quality of introspective monologue – a genre which is hardly ever free from self-absorption and self-indulgence. But he has always been on the move, and in the literary sense too. At the beginning of his ...

All my eye and Betty Martin

Roy Harris, 1 December 1983

A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... the psychology of motto-bearing too. Why, one wonders, does Newquay Urban District Council have a Cornish motto which is either obscene or incomprehensible? (Tight-lipped Pine says darkly, ‘Untranslatable at present’: we look forward with bated breath to future editions.) So many and varied are the available fields for a modern lexicographer to plunder ...

Exasperating Classics

Patricia Craig, 23 May 1985

Secret Gardens 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 235 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 04 809022 0
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Reading and Righting 
by Robert Leeson.
Collins, 256 pp., £6.95, March 1985, 9780001844131
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Pipers at the Gates of Dawn 
by Jonathan Cott.
Viking, 327 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80003 1
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... mentions a childhood friend accidentally drowned, and a brother who may have met his end in a Cornish pool, to account in part for the clergyman-author’s harping on water, and on life underwater. Very little of conventional Christianity gets into The Water-Babies, even in the form of allegory: instead you find a peculiar parallel religion, as Carpenter ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster, 10 June 2010

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... falling into contempt with the people.’ Taxes were high and times were bad, and journalists like William Cobbett were radicalising popular opinion by lambasting ‘Old Corruption’. Parliament, Cobbett stormed, was ruining the nation it no longer represented. An oligarchy of aristocrats and financiers, having hijacked the Commons by means of electoral ...

Sublimely Bad

Terry Castle, 23 February 1995

Secresy; or, The Ruin on the Rock 
by Eliza Fenwick, edited by Isobel Grundy.
Broadview, 359 pp., £9.99, May 1994, 1 55111 014 8
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... Isobel Grundy tries to make the case for Secresy on both ideological and artistic grounds. The Cornish-born Fenwick, about whose early life little is known, was active in her twenties and thirties in radical political circles, and along with her husband, John Fenwick, an Irish patriot and member of the London Corresponding Society, became friends with ...

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