Monthly Archives: December 2011

Oscar Wilde – Fog and nature imitating art

Where, if not from the impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our river, and turn to faint […]

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Historical Miscellany #4 – Description of a Seal (1816)

“The head, at some distance, resembles that of a dog, with his ears cut close; but when near you see it has a long thick snout, a wide mouth, and the eyes sunk within the head. Altogether it has a most horrid look; insomuch, that if one were to paint a Gorgon’s head, I think […]

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Horrible handwriting

Apologies to anyone who doesn’t care, but it’s all Dickens at the moment. Today the Museum of London opens its Dickens in London exhibition (there’s a preview here) and yesterday, as part of the opening fanfare, the Guardian published a little feature on a rare manuscript of Great Expectations that’s going on display. The manuscript […]

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Claire Tomalin: Charles Dickens, A Life

Claire Tomalin: Charles Dickens, A Life Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens is many things, but above all it’s fast. She fits Dickens’ 58 frantic years, 20 novels/novellas/Christmas books, his raft of journalism, parties, speeches, tours and benevolent projects into just over 400 pages. It’s an admirable achievement: bewildering occasionally but nonetheless satisfying. Tomalin has […]

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On Betting (now and then)

Hedge-shunter I’m not a gambling man. The two proper bets that I’ve placed in my life both went on a brute called Hedgehunter to win the National. The first time out he was among the leaders till he ploughed into the final fence, and the following year my Spanish bank took so long to process […]

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