End of Year Book Meme 2013

January 1, 2014

It’s time for the end of year meme, in which I recount the year’s literary adventures, and wish you all a very happy 2014. How many books read in 2013? 106, mainly thanks to having (very uncharacteristically) taken a holiday in September. I also had to re-read quite a few books for my thesis, as […]

Read the full article →

Will Warburton (1905) by George Gissing

December 31, 2013

I’ve always been slightly chary of Will Warbuton, having been warned that it features a happy ending. Anyone familiar with Gissing’s novels will know that he is relentlessly bleak, and anything else would be plain wrong. Much to my relief, misery still abounds in this story, and Gissing’s characteristic obsession with money, sex, and class is […]

Read the full article →

Life According to Literature 2013

December 27, 2013

It’s time for the annual meme, providing an excellent excuse to ignore my thesis revisions for half an hour. The rules: Using only books you have read this year (2013), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. Describe yourself: The ‘Improper’ Feminine (Lynn Pykett) How do you feel: You Are Not So […]

Read the full article →

Forthcoming performance of The Lighthouse by Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens

October 23, 2013

Last month I wrote that this was turning out to be Wilkie Collins season, and there’s yet another reason to be cheerful. The University of Birmingham is staging an excerpt from The Lighthouse, a play on which he collaborated with Charles Dickens. Here are the details: In 1855 Wilkie Collins presented his first original drama […]

Read the full article →

Wilkie Collins Bonanza

September 22, 2013

This autumn is turning out to be Wilkie Collins season, with a new biography of the great sensationalist, and lots more going on. One of the first critical works I read was Jenny Bourne Taylor’s seminal In the Secret Theatre of Home: Wilkie Collins, Sensation Narrative, and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. I desperately wanted my own copy, […]

Read the full article →

To be reviewed…

September 15, 2013

My post-holiday slump has lifted, thanks to some lovely review copies that have piqued my interest. William and Dorothy Wordsworth: ‘All in Each Other’ by Lucy Newlyn is a beautifully produced book examining Wordsworth’s 50-year creative collaboration with his sister. This is the first study to give Dorothy equal billing with her more famous brother, exploring […]

Read the full article →

The Alice Behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester

September 9, 2013

This is a preprint of a review published in Britain and the World, Volume 6, pp. 298-300. The title of this book is slightly misleading, as the reader learns little of Alice Liddell, the girl who famously inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Instead, in this slim volume, Simon Winchester focuses his attention on Charles Dodgson […]

Read the full article →

How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore

August 4, 2013

If anything is guaranteed to get my feminist dander up, it’s the idea of wifely perfection, and this enthralling book had me seething from start to finish. On a summer’s day in 1769, wealthy (but unprepossessing) bachelor Thomas Day visited the orphan hospital in Shrewsbury to choose himself a wife. This was not the way […]

Read the full article →

Robert Elsmere by Mrs Humphry Ward

July 27, 2013

When Mrs Humphry Ward first had the idea for her bestselling novel Robert Elsmere (1888), she wrote to her publisher that it was all planned and that she would take “five quiet months in the country to write it. It will be two volumes”. The gestation period of what she referred to as her “baby” was […]

Read the full article →

More amusing Victorian short story titles

July 18, 2013

As my last post on amusing and bizarre Victorian short story titles proved so popular, here are some more of my favourites: Her Majesty the Flapper: Episodes in Her Career Cupid the Entomologist Much-married Grandma In the House of Bondage The Romance of a Pair of Slippers Borrowing a Parrot! Progressive Whist and the Muffin […]

Read the full article →