Tag: Wall Street Journal

Total 6 Posts

Duncan Wall: The Ordinary Acrobat

When John Major, who started his career in a bank, became British prime minister in 1990, newspaper articles recounted his father’s early days as a music-hall performer. Mr. Major, the wits quipped, was the only person who ever ran away from the circus to join a team of accountants. Duncan… Read more

Lawrence Norfolk: John Saturnall’s Feast

What makes the great novels great? There are as many answers to that question as there are novels. If you narrow the question to “What makes a historical novel great?” the answer that rises to the top is, probably, sense of place. Historical novels create new worlds in our minds,… Read more

Paul Thomas Murphy: Shooting Victoria

British television has a lot to answer for. From “Upstairs, Downstairs” to “Downton Abbey,” it has perpetrated an image of “historical” Britain as a country filled with a loved, even revered, upper class that gracefully patronizes the lower orders, who in turn are thrilled to roll over and have their… Read more

Why Dickens?

It can scarcely have escaped anyone’s attention that 2013 is the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth – anyone who has not been in a medically induced coma for the past months, that is. If you missed the last two biographies (one, by Michael Slater, jumping the gun in 2009, another,… Read more

Explorers of the Nile By Tim Jeal

(publishing in the Wall Street Journal) The mystery of the source of the Nile is almost as old as recorded history—”It would be easier to find the source of the Nile,” Romans said of a futile task. The puzzle was not simply “where” but “how.” How could such a vast… Read more

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars, by Paul Collins

History is filled with stories that enthralled newspaper readers for weeks or months at a time, that were the currency of thought and speech for everyone and then suddenly vanished. Excavating these episodes—excavating the right episode—can bring to life a period, creating a microcosm for exploring attitudes and ideas of… Read more