Keeping On Keeping On
Alan Bennett's sharp, funny, humane observations have made him one of the foremost chroniclers of modern British life. This collection includes his diaries from 2005 to 2015, the decade that saw his civil partnership, four premieres at the National Theatre, and the filming of The Lady in the Van. It also contains his provocative sermon on private education, his darkly comic radio play Denmark Hill and his reflections on his 25-year collaboration with the director Nicholas Hytner.
Everyday Lives in the Middle Ages
Beginning with the Wife of Bath and what she can tell us of the wool trade and matrimony, each of Chaucer’s 23 pilgrims on the road to Canterbury illuminates several aspects of 14th-century life in this unusual social history. From close readings of the Ploughman, the Miller, the Reeve and the Franklin the practicalities of rural life are revealed; while other pilgrims, from ‘Mine Host’ to the Shipman, provide the detail and inspire discussion of city, religious and military life.
Twenty-Four Lays from the French Middle Ages
This volume presents prose translations of 24 anonymous lays which complement the twelve well-known lays by Marie de France, the possible creator of the genre. This collection is somewhat wider in scope, with examples of magic and mystery stories, fun and games, and history as well as passion and romance.
The Illustrated Police News
The Shocks, Scandals and Sensations of the Week, 1864–1938
From 1864 until 1938 The Illustrated Police News provided a cheap pictorial roundup of the week’s most startling news stories. Hundreds of examples of the publication are displayed here, with cultural and historical notes accompanying headlines such as ‘Child Carried Off by an Eagle’ and ‘An Elephant Hunt in London’ alongside more serious political and criminal subjects.
Walking the Literary Landscape
20 Classic Walks for Book-Lovers in Northern England
Exploring the landscapes and buildings that inspired works of literature, including Chatsworth House – the original Pemberley – the Lake District of Swallows and Amazons and the Yorkshire moors so prominent in Wuthering Heights, the 20 circular walks in this guide range from 3 to 9 miles. Details from OS maps are included as well as written directions.
A History of Seduction
From the Garden of Eden to the #MeToo movement, the connection between and sex and power has been fraught with danger. This book follows its labyrinthine and often secret history through Casanova’s conquests, the struggles of early feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft, and the persecution of the black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson under America’s seduction laws.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens
In this award-winning biography AN Wilson frames Dickens’s life as a series of mysteries in order to reflect his complex and seemingly contradictory character. Exploring key aspects, from his childhood poverty and failed marriage to his charitable work and love of public readings, the book assesses their influence on his writing and how they enabled him to create characters who were instantly appealing and continue to resonate.
The Book of Iona
The island of St Columba, who arrived there from Ireland in 563 CE, Iona is, in the words of Robert Crawford, ‘a site where spirit, imagination, and physical exertion mingle’. In this anthology he brings together modern fiction writers’ and poets’ responses to the island as well as writings by, among others, George Buchanan, John Keats, Walter Scott and Herman Melville; all interspersed with passages from Adomnán’s seventh-century Life of Saint Columba, recast in modern English verse.
Appointment in Arezzo
A Friendship with Muriel Spark
The Scottish journalist Alan Taylor first met Muriel Spark (1918–2006) when he interviewed her in Arezzo, near her home in Tuscany, in 1990. In this memoir, he recounts his time spent with the novelist and her companion Penny, describing their parties, travels and idiosyncratic household arrangements. While offering an affectionate portrait of a witty, vivacious and intelligent woman, he does not shy away from controversy, particularly her bitter estrangement from her son.
The 50 Key Aspects of His Works, Life and Legacy, Each Explained in Half a Minute
Written to explain in simple terms what makes Shakespeare’s plays and poems so important and enduring, this book explores 50 topics, with 30 seconds for each. The succinct essays introduce the context in which he wrote, recurring character types and themes, and his legacy; feature spreads offer summaries of some of the individual plays.
Writing the Revolution
The Construction of "1968" in Germany
The concept of ‘1968' is synonymous with the anti-authoritarian German Student Movement of 1966 to 1968 and is viewed variously as a liberalization, a myth and an irritation, sometimes judged a ‘successful failure’. This volume explores the portrayal of the ’68ers over the decades, the writing about the movement, and its afterlife as a foundational myth, whose utopian aims can still fire the imagination.
Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England
Texts and Translations, c.1120-c.1450
From the 12th to the 15th centuries, French was one of England’s main languages of literature, record, diplomacy and commerce and the large corpus of French texts is indispensable for the understanding of English literary and cultural history. Representing literature in its most self-reflective moments, this volume presents a large collection of texts and facing translations of prologues, epilogues and excerpts from French-language texts composed or circulated in medieval England.
The Unspeakable, Gender and Sexuality In Medieval Literature
Exploring texts including Ancrene Wisse, Chaucer’s ‘Pardoner’s Tale’, the Confessio Amantis by Gower and the Old English Wulf and Eadwacer, this study investigates the concept and use of the unspeakable in medieval literature and the relation of ‘unspeakability’ to cultural and social understandings of gender and sexuality.
The Psalms and Medieval English Literature
From the Conversion to the Reformation
Exploring the ways in which the Book of Psalms profoundly influenced medieval English literature and culture, this volume of 13 essays is in three parts: the first focuses on the development of translation from Anglo-Saxon psalters to Rolle’s English Psalter; part two looks at how medieval prose and verse writers drew on the Psalms; and part three considers how the Psalms gave voice to medieval secular and religious ideas.
The French of Medieval England
Essays in Honour of Jocelyn Wogan-Browne
The ‘French of England’, a term coined by Professor Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, is the mix of linguistic, cultural and political elements in the multilingualism of England in the five centuries after the Norman Conquest. This volume of 16 essays honours and extends Wogan-Browne’s work in studies of medieval translation and communication, secular and sacred literature, and texts including Gower’s Traitié and Thomas Wright’s Political Songs of England.
Flaying in the Pre-Modern World
Practice and Representation
‘Skin is the parchment upon which identity is written’: in this volume, the contributors explore the responses to the removal of that skin in art, history, literature, manuscript studies and law. The 14 essays deal with both flaying in practice, and its representation in religious art and iconography and in literature, including the Arthurian stories and Robin Hood.
An Exile on Planet Earth
Articles and Reflections
In this collection of essays Brian Aldiss (1925–2017) reflects on the events of his life and how they were transmuted into the ‘metaphysical realism’ of his science-fiction stories. He describes his travels in 1960s Yugoslavia, examines his preoccupation with exile in an introduction to Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, and imagines a meeting with Thomas Hardy.
The Curious World of Dickens
Evoking the historical reality behind Dickens’ vibrant fictional creations, this volume presents material from the Bodleian Library’s collections of 19th-century ephemera, alongside passages from his writing. The items illustrated include railway maps, sheet music and broadside accounts of executions, as well as advertisements for Dickens’ own novels and their unauthorized early stage adaptations.
The Life and Loves of E Nesbit
The award-winning biographer Eleanor Fitzsimons uncovers the lesser-known details of the life of Edith Nesbit (1858–1924), exploring how her experiences influenced the vivid characters she created. Using letter extracts and a variety of primary sources, she reveals her to be a woman of contradictions, whose avant-garde literary output and fervent social activism contrasted with her tolerance of her husband's philandering and misogyny and her own avowed opposition to female suffrage.
Writing the Thames
Surveying writings as diverse as Caesar’s account of his legions crossing the Thames, John Tradescant describing his botanical garden at Lambeth, and The Wind in the Willows, this is an illustrated look at how the Thames has inspired people to write about it. Focusing on the Victorian and Edwardian periods, Hardyment describes the responses of early chroniclers and historians, topographers and tourists, naturalists and poets, novelists who set their stories along its banks, and those who go messing about in boats.
If death inevitably claims the heroes of Shakespeare’s tragedies, its spectre stalks even his comedies. Illustrated with historic images, this book explores the playwright’s treatment of mortality in the context of Reformation England. It examines the way he depicts murder and suicide, the use of feigned deaths as a plot device, and the belief in ghosts and the afterlife.
Portraits of Shakespeare
Three famous portraits, a variety of engravings, paintings and sculptures based on them, and one playwright are the subjects of this study: drawing on the Bodleian Library collections, Katherine Duncan-Jones examines the Stratford bust of William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Droeshout engraving from the frontispiece of the First Folio, and the Chandos portrait, but she also discusses the author portrait in general and later commemorative portrayals of Shakespeare.
Mapping Shakespeare's World
The diverse settings of Shakespeare’s plays are all remote, in space or time, from his own Elizabethan London, and their resonance for the original audience is explored in this volume. Whitfield uses contemporary maps, art and written descriptions to establish how familiar Shakespeare’s locations were and what events, historical figures and cultural stereotypes were most associated with them.
A Dying Art
This collection of memorial inscriptions includes more than 300 examples, which range from the poignant to the light-hearted. Commemorating both famous figures and those known only for an unusual gravestone, they include epitaphs on Dick Whittington, the Duke of Wellington’s horse and a man killed ‘by means of a Rockett’ on Guy Fawkes night in 1696.
Phillip Pullman and His Dark Materials
This companion to the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy includes a biography of Philip Pullman, analysis of his stories and an exploration of the philosophical ideas and literary influences that lie behind them. Written with the help of Pullman himself, the book also features an interview in which he discusses the process of writing.
A Literary Guide for Travellers
Arranged thematically, around topics such as ‘Faith, Love and Politics’, ‘Lust and Love’, and ‘Death and Mystery’, this book examines the responses of writers, artists and composers to the city: Byron on the Bridge of Sighs, ‘a palace and a prison on each hand’; the teenage Mozart’s visit with his father; and Dickens’s unease in ‘this ghostly city’.
The Man Who Wasn't There
A Life of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s life as a war correspondent, big-game hunter and womaniser is well known, as is his descent into depression and alcoholism. Based on previously unpublished letters, this new biography reveals a more disturbing picture: a man who was not merely a serial liar but incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy, using his fiction to denigrate former friends and rivals and to reinvent himself in a heroic light.
A Literary Guide for Travellers
In chronologically arranged chapters, this guide explores the streets, landmarks and cafés associated with the great figures of Spanish literature. Its subjects range from the golden age of Cervantes and Calderón through the Generation of 1898, who sought artistic renewal after Spain’s defeat by the United States that year, to the vibrant modern cultural scene embodied in the films of Almodóvar.
What are We Doing Here?
A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Marilynne Robinson presents in these essays her thoughts on taking action and remaining hopeful in an era of political and cultural pessimism. Through topics as broad as the influence of great thinkers such as Emerson and Tocqueville on political consciousness, or the discipline that beauty imparts to daily life, she demonstrates the need to reject ideology and to value ‘the self as an intelligent moral actor’.
The Ultimate Christmas Cracker
For 50 Christmases, the historian John Julius Norwich compiled scrapbooks of amusing clippings for family and friends. This selection features Groucho Marx, Shirley Temple, Margaret Thatcher and a warning to Women’s Institute members not to bring firearms into the BBC.
In the aftermath of the Trojan War, Odysseus makes his ten-year journey from Troy to Ithaca, overcoming the Cyclops, the Sirens and the Shades of the Dead, only to meet suitors vying for his wife's hand at home in Ithaca. This edition presents Alexander Pope’s classic translation, with illustrations after John Flaxman.
September 1, 1939
A Biography of a Poem
In scrutinizing WH Auden’s September 1, 1939, Ian Sansom borrows two questions recommended by Auden himself for the study of a poem: ‘How does it work? And what kind of guy inhabits this poem?’ Sansom argues that this work offers a glimpse of the writer reinventing himself at a culminating moment in world affairs, and seeks to show why this poem is a masterpiece and how it has been incorporated into people’s lives.
On Nineteen Eighty-Four
DJ Taylor, the literary critic and award-winning biographer of George Orwell, investigates the origins of Nineteen Eight-Four, showing how incidents and obsessions in the author’s early life, including the Spanish Civil War and the early Cold War years, shaped elements of the novel and particularly its view of totalitarianism. Taylor then traces the creation of the novel on the island of Jura, linking the writing to Orwell’s life and examining the lasting impact of his dystopian vision.
The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy
This science fiction and fantasy anthology explores a host of forgotten, unfinished or little-known works, from early examples of the genre such as Jules Verne’s unpublished (until 1994) novel Paris in the 20th Century to George Lucas’s pre-Star Wars film THX 1138 and Andrew MacLean’s 1990s TV series Space Island One. Over 70 essays and 150 illustrations explore works covering film, literature, art, music, fashion, architecture and pop culture.
Their Lives and Works
From Dante, Boccaccio and Chaucer to authors such as Murakami and Arundhati Roy writing today, this literary compendium presents succinct biographical articles, notes on key books, quotations, portraits and other illustrations for over 100 novelists, poets and playwrights. The book is international in scope, with writers from places as far-flung as China and Argentina, and arranged in six chronological sections, each one ending with a ‘Directory’ giving briefer profiles of a further selection of authors.
More Than True
The Wisdom of Fairy Tales
Robert Bly retells six classic fairy tales, including The Six Swans and The Frog Prince. Drawing on the work of a range of thinkers, including Kierkegaard, Freud and Jung, he offers analysis from a male perspective of how each story captures the essence of human nature.
Mark Twain's Notebooks
Journals, Letters, Observations, Wit, Wisdom, and Doodles
In addition to his 26 novels including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain was a prolific writer of newspaper articles, travelogues, letters and notebooks. Organized by topics such as writers and writing, family and friends, business and politics, this selection offers a glimpse into his busy life and wide-ranging interests, illustrated with photographs, engravings and his own humorous sketches. Slightly off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Letters of Note
An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
Ranging from diplomatic correspondence of the 14th century BCE to letters by Bette Davis and Iggy Pop, these 125 historic missives are by turns witty, poignant and enlightening. To quote Shaun Usher’s letter to the reader, ‘I can think of no better way to learn about the past than through the often candid correspondence of those who lived it’. Slightly off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Infernal Library
On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy
Many twentieth-century despots, including Stalin, Hitler and Mao, wrote extensively before or during their reigns, producing theoretical works, poetry, memoirs, and even the occasional romance. Kalder’s sardonic survey of their often execrable literary works makes broader points about the dictatorial mindset and the battle between self-image and reality, arguing that the urge to control or deny empirical facts using words and ideas is a fundamental attribute of tyranny.
Into the Heart of England
First published in 1896, Housman’s A Shropshire Lad has never been out of print. This book explores both the life of the poet and that of the poem, which is included in full. In addition to a biography of the shy, homosexual don, it offers a cultural history of a work that was carried into the trenches by soldiers in the First World War, and whose nostalgic Englishness still resonates today.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to the Eagle has Landed
The period from the 1950s to the 1970s was a golden age for British spy fiction. Based on conversations with many of the 150 writers covered, this book sets the phenomenon against the backdrop of imperial decline, the Cold War and a burgeoning paperback market. It identifies two distinct genres: the glamorous fantasy of James Bond, and the sombre realism of Le Carré and Deighton. With a foreword by Lee Child.
Death of a Translator
Ed Gorman has spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and the Gulf, but it is his experiences as a young reporter in Afghanistan in particular that haunt him. He recounts his time with the mujaheddin launching hit-and-run attacks on Soviet troops, and offers a frank account of the PTSD that resulted.
Tales of Two Londons
Stories from a Fractured City
In fiction, reportage and verse, writers including Iain Sinclair, Ali Smith, Jacob Ross and Andrew O’Hagan reflect on the diversity of contemporary London, its extremes of wealth and poverty, its streets and pubs, and its constantly evolving social landscape.
On the Sofa with Jane Austen
By exploring topics including gossip, grandmothers and husbands, these 21 essays offer an accessible insight into the world of Jane Austen’s novels. Light-hearted in tone, they discuss the techniques and themes she used to convey the appearance, personalities and thoughts of her characters and are introduced with elegant line drawings.
In these 23 essays, the South African Nobel Prize-winner brings a novelist’s insight to bear on the interrelations between the lives, work and reputations of his literary predecessors. He explores Defoe’s picaresque classic Roxana, the cult of Goethe’s Young Werther, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the rediscovery of Irène Némirovsky, and Ford Madox Ford’s masterpiece The Good Soldier.
A New Edition, Revised
The Old English poem Genesis A combines translation of the biblical text with explanatory interpolations. Taking account of recent scholarship, this volume includes an introduction, a conservative edition of the text, reconstruction of its Latin sources and line-by-line commentary.
David's Blissful Harp
A Critical Edition of the Manuscript of Matthew Parker's Metrical Psalms (1–80)
Archbishop Parker’s psalter was printed in 1567/68, following a long process of revision. This edition presents the published text facing Parker’s manuscript version; it includes two unpublished metrical psalms, together with facsimiles of the manuscript and Thomas Tallis’s eight tunes.