Trivial pursuit

June 9, 2011

I've never before - in 40-odd years of writing books - asked for the right of reply to a review, but I feel I have to in the case of James Stevens Curl's extraordinary notice of The Battle of the Styles: Society, Culture and the Design of a New Foreign Office, 1855-1861 (Books, 2 June).

My book considers the debate that raged around the style of the new Foreign Office in the 1850s, setting that in its wider social and cultural context. Curl says nothing about this, on the grounds that errors in the early, architectural part of the book are bound to undermine confidence in the rest.

Those errors (in toto, apart from one that I dispute) are these: that I've missed the entry of one obscure architect in a contemporary dictionary; that I've mistakenly given the 18th-century Bavarian architect Balthasar Neumann a brother; and that I've left the "s" off Curl's second name.

In an email to me he says he finds that omission to be "grossly discourteous". I wish I had a pound for every time I've been cited as "Potter" without taking offence; and would be happy to forfeit a pound for any error in any of my books, if they were all as few and as trivial as these.

Bernard Porter, Stockholm

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald