Commentary

Centrist mums

On August 18, 1839, the Reverend Francis Close took to the pulpit of Cheltenham Minster, St Mary’s, before an unusually full congregation. A popular preacher – and enemy to all...

Commentary

Things that seem incredible

With this missive I make it known to Your Reverend Lordship that, as the Lord God continues to uphold the good fortune of their Highnesses, yesterday they received letters from...

Commentary

Self aware

In 1838 the Royal Society of Edinburgh was offered “a Box of Manuscripts” containing hundreds of letters to and from “the late David Hume the Historian”, along with some early...

Commentary

Friendly shade

Philip Larkin died in December 1985. By the time the Memorial Service for him was held on Valentine’s Day 1986, Monica Jones, his long-term companion and one of his Literary...

Commentary

This damned thriller

Graham Greene passed me in the street the other day. A bit later, Fanny Burney, Tom Paine and Eric Gill went by in convoy. Brighton & Hove Bus Company has...

Commentary

Roots but no frontiers

On August 24, 1943, a patient who had recently been admitted to the Grosvenor Sanatorium in Ashford, Kent, died. The sickly thirty-four-year-old woman had been a policy analyst on the...

Commentary

To speken short and pleyn

In 1894 the Reverend Walter W. Skeat (1835–1912), Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge University, published his six-volume edition of The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer at the...

Commentary

Satan’s son?

The little art he is master of”, according to a contemporary, amounts to “forging a story and imposing it on the world for truth.” That is not the harshest thing...

Commentary

Unchartered

In the early 1990s, I took exception to a buxom anthology entitled The Chatto Book of Office Life. There were two problems with this compilation, I sternly informed readers of...

Commentary

Excavating the future

When Edward Thomas wrote his biography of Richard Jefferies (published in 1909) he was paying homage to a writer who had influenced him, at the deepest level, from childhood onwards....