The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter by Lucinda Hawksley

March 16, 2014

If someone had thought to ask Queen Victoria what sort of daughter she didn’t want, she might have described Princess Louise: a smoker, a cyclist, and a strong-minded feminist who consorted with the likes of Josephine Butler and George Eliot. It is this tense mother-daughter relationship that dominates Lucinda Hawksley’s lively and enjoyable biography of an […]

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The Convert by Elizabeth Robins (1907)

March 2, 2014

Last year saw the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison, the brave and determined suffragette who attempted to stop the King’s horse during the Epsom Derby. Many have decried the foolishness of such acts, believing that female suffrage would somehow have happened spontaneously, if only these silly women had been patient; others, […]

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Her Father’s Name by Florence Marryat

January 5, 2014

Now that I’ve finished writing my thesis on Florence Marryat (just a few tweaks and proofreading to go), I can take a more objective view of her fiction. Having read all 68 of her novels, it’s fair to say that they are not of equal merit; in fact, some are downright dreadful. With 7 children […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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