News and reviews

Victor Hugo gave Notre Dame life as the vibrant heart of France

Added on 22/04/2019

Victor Hugo was not enamoured with the title of Frederic Shoberl’s English translation of his 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris. For the future “great man” of French literature, the book’s main attraction was the gothic cathedral itself.

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The Club reviewed in the Sunday Times

Added on 21/04/2019

For the clubbable man of the 18th century there was no end to the fellowship on offer: you could join the Hellfire, the Kit-Kat, the Beefsteak, the Society of Dilettanti, the Everlasting, the Golden Fleece or the Cocoa-Tree club.

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It’s a #masterpiece! What if Gauguin had been on Instagram?

Added on 20/04/2019

Let’s revisit history for a minute and pretend that Jean Genet, Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh and their ilk had been #blessed with the ability to share #dailyinspo with their presumably voracious online fans.

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Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage reviewed in the TLS

Added on 19/04/2019

“Most men may flatter themselves a Prospero in the classroom”, Seth Lerer writes in the preface to Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage. I doubt that this is true for most men (or women) in our anti-authority age, where the magus is often…

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Putin v. the People reviewed in the Guardian

Added on 18/04/2019

One of the silver linings running through the dark clouds of their history is that Russians have developed a strong line in subversive political humour. In one joke, Putin asks Stalin: “Why is everything here so bad? What should I do?”

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The Princess Who Hid in a Tree featured in the Sunday Times

Added on 14/04/2019

This simple tale of the building of a church in Oxford by Frideswide, a princess who fled from marriage with King Algar of Mercia, is made special by the exceptional draughtsmanship and gorgeous colour of Alan Marks’s illustrations.

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Culture in Nazi Germany reviewed in the Sunday Times

Added on 14/04/2019

One of the most notorious quotations of the Nazi era is customarily attributed to Hermann Goering: “When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver.” In truth, the words were uttered by a character in a play by Hanns Johst.

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Nightingales in Berlin featured in the Observer

Added on 14/04/2019

Luscinia megarhynchos, the common nightingale, has been shunning the UK since the 1960s, during which time the population has slumped by 90%. The number of birds in Berlin, however, is on the rise.

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The Bodleian’s Typographic Firsts reviewed in the Spectator

Added on 13/04/2019

Among the many lost methods of making an illuminated book in the pioneering days of Renaissance printing, the way we once obtained powdered gold may be the most lamented: ‘In a pot place nine lizards in the milk…’

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Palaces of Pleasure by Lee Jackson reviewed in the Times

Added on 12/04/2019

During the mid-Victorian period a man called Sam Cowell almost single-handedly transformed light entertainment among the British masses. He was the star of the Canterbury Music Hall, the first purpose-built music hall in London.

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Matilda by Catherine Hanley reviewed in the Guardian

Added on 11/04/2019

In 1142 Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle. Since it was a snowy December, the “Lady of the English” wrapped herself in a white fur cloak to blend into the landscape before skating down the frozen river Thames to freedom.

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Fruitmarket Gallery Bookshop wins Bookshop of the Year Award

Added on 10/04/2019

A Spokesperson for the Scottish Independent Retail Awards 2019 said: “These awards are now in their eighth year and are the leading celebration of the independent retailers who enhance our communities.”

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