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Strike at the Knee

Malcolm Gaskill: Italy, 1943, 8 February 2024

The Savage Storm: The Battle for Italy 1943 
by James Holland.
Bantam, 565 pp., £25, September 2023, 978 1 78763 668 2
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... couldn’t think about Italy at the same time even if we’d wanted to. Resisting this tendency, James Holland’s previous works – on Sicily and the mainland campaign of 1944-45, among other things – have raised awareness of what happened in Italy and why. It was never an untold story, but definitely an under-told one, especially regarding 1943. As ...


William Thomas, 16 October 1980

Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... largest tomes for posterity to ponder over, will not be heavy company. One of the great men of the Holland House circle was Macaulay: but Macaulay did not, apparently, converse. He overwhelmed his hearers with a tidal wave of learning which they were too stunned to check or divert. On the other hand, some of the wits, who gave the talk at ...

Lizzy with the Candlestick

Joanna Biggs: P.D. James’s Austen, 5 January 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 310 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 0 571 28357 6
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... was published that it was ‘rather too light & bright & sparkling; – it wants shade.’ P.D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley follows in this shady tradition. In her preface, James apologises to Austen for ‘involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation’, and imagines Austen replying ...


Tom Paulin, 5 November 1981

Too Long a Sacrifice: Life and Death in Northern Ireland since 1969 
by Jack Holland.
Columbus, 217 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 396 07934 2
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A History of Northern Ireland 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 195 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 7171 1069 9
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... Joshua Hassan who believes that the Rock is indissolubly part of the United Kingdom. Although Jack Holland ignores Cairns’s rich insight, he does explore the confused nature of Loyalist identity. In a revealing anecdote he describes a train journey towards the Loyalist stronghold of Larne. Three youths were clowning about, throwing cans and bottles out of ...

A Foolish Christ

James McConica, 20 November 1980

Ecstasy and the Praise of Folly 
by M.A. Screech.
Duckworth, 267 pp., £24, June 1980, 0 7156 1044 9
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... of having all his works placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. He lived away from his native Holland and found his most lasting domicile with the Froben press, but his true homeland was the one he constructed with his pen through his vast correspondence, his tireless publication of the sources of Christian faith, and the alluring warmth of his ...

What do you do with them?

Rose George: Eddie Stobart, 4 April 2002

The Eddie Stobart Story 
by Hunter Davies.
HarperCollins, 282 pp., £14.99, November 2001, 0 00 711597 0
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... sales reps sick of Radio 4, who began to collect sightings of the ‘giants of the road’. Jools Holland publicised the craze, after his band passed the time on a UK tour in 1991 spotting Stobart lorries. His personal assistant wrote to ask for a calendar, and was sent one by return of post by slightly bemused Stobart staff in Carlisle – only slightly ...

Tony, Ray and the Duchess

Alan Bell, 21 May 1981

A Lonely Business: A Self-Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 297 77918 4
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... James Pope-Hennessy, who was murdered in 1974 when he was 58, will be remembered for several of his books, among them London Fabric, an architectural study made in the nick of time in 1939, a young man’s book which has worn well; the two volumes of his life of Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton; Verandah of 1964, with its autobiographical element added to family and colonial history; and the excellent Queen Mary (1959), an unusually sympathetic study ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... in power in the early 1830s, and despite his attainment and adornment of the influential circle at Holland House. Lord and Lady Holland are evoked in the adjuration: ‘think of his possessing Holland House, and that he reposes every evening on that beautiful structure of flesh and blood ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The State of Statuary, 21 September 2017

... Most days​ I eat my lunch sitting under the statue of Charles James Fox in Bloomsbury Square. There are broad steps on each side of the statue, their Portland stone now stained an aqueous green, and I like to sit beneath and between Fox’s feet, looking, with him, down Bedford Place and towards Russell Square. Like most fat men in statuary (and in life), Fox is seated for greater dignity; he is also swathed in a voluminous toga which drips over the edge of his chair – ‘Charles James Fox unconcerned in a bath towel sits on his arse in Bloomsbury Square,’ was how Louis MacNeice put it in one of his last poems ...

Back to Their Desks

Benjamin Moser: Nescio, 23 May 2013

Amsterdam Stories 
by Nescio, translated by Damion Searls.
NYRB, 161 pp., £7.99, May 2012, 978 1 59017 492 0
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... around various world-improving organisations until, in 1904, he found a respectable job at the Holland-Bombay Trading Company. In Dutch literary studies, this firm has a status something like that of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company that employed Wallace Stevens. Like Stevens, who remained at the company for 39 years and eventually rose to ...

In the Sorting Office

James Meek, 28 April 2011

... easier for rivals to compete with them. Privatisation isn’t the same as liberalisation. But in Holland privatisation and liberalisation combined have altered the post in a way far beyond anything Britain has seen. Every week Dutch households and businesses are visited by postmen and postwomen from four different companies. There are the ...

Sublime Propositions

John Summerson, 17 March 1983

John Soane: The Making of an Architect 
by Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey.
Chicago, 408 pp., £25, November 1982, 0 226 17298 8
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... Soane was born in 1753, the son of a Berkshire bricklayer. At 15 he met a London architect, James Peacock, who was closely associated with George Dance, architect to the City of London. Dance gave Soane a place in his household. After three or four years he left Dance for Henry Holland, from whom he learned more of ...

Lemon and Pink

David Trotter: The Sorrows of Young Ford, 1 June 2000

Return to Yesterday 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Bill Hutchings.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 397 1
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War Prose 
by Ford Madox Ford, edited by Max Saunders.
Carcanet, 276 pp., £14.95, August 1999, 1 85754 396 3
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... as usual in incendiary mood, poured scorn on him and his associates. ‘You and Mr Conrad and Mr James and all those old fellows are done,’ he was to be heard insisting. ‘Exploded! ... Fichus! ... No good! ... Finished!’ Lewis’s beef was with literary ‘impressionism’: with novels which sought intricately to render the movements, at once furtive ...
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... ballads bringing tears to the eyes of ladies and gents in London drawing-rooms. His patron Lady Holland encouraged him to write a life of Fitzgerald which would safely sanitise him, for, as Stella Tillyard points out, there had been renewed demands for Catholic emancipation in 1830: it was desirable to depict Lord Edward Fitzgerald in the safe romantic hues ...


Ian Buruma, 9 March 1995

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War 
by Lynn Nicholas.
Macmillan, 498 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62652 4
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... fascinating narrative Nicholas describes how the Nazis took a leaf from Napoleon’s book. In Holland and France, for example, they not only kept careful records of their dubious transactions, but often paid for the things they wanted. Sometimes, as in the case of fake Vermeers sold to Goering, they paid too much. Jewish property, however, was another ...

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