A Short Analysis of Hopkins’s ‘The Windhover’

‘The Windhover’ was written by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) in 1877, but, like many of Hopkins’s poems, was not published until 1918, long after his death. It’s one of his most widely anthologised poems and some analysis of it may help readers to appreciate it as a curious and interesting example of the sonnet form. So, what follows is a very brief analysis of the poem, designed to act as a short introduction to its linguistic power and its themes.

The Windhover

To Christ Our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing! Read the rest of this entry

The Best H. G. Wells Novels

10 classic books written by the master of science fiction, H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells (1866-1946) wrote dozens of books over the course of his literary career, a career which spanned over half a century. But what are the best books by H. G. Wells? As well as writing many classic works of science fiction, Wells also wrote non-fiction as well as many popular realist novels such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly. But in this list of his best novels we’ve confined ourselves to the pick of his science fiction, since it’s for his science fiction that Wells is best remembered. As ever with our lists, we’ll start at number 10 and work our way up to what is, in our opinion, the best H. G. Wells novel of all… Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about George Orwell

George Orwell’s short life was a busy one, so we’ve distilled his biography into five striking facts

1. George Orwell coined the phrase ‘Cold War’ – well, sort of. If we’re being wholly accurate, Orwell did and he didn’t. So who actually coined the term ‘cold war’? Orwell did have his party to play, but the issue is a little complex: Orwell is credited with being the first to use the phrase ‘cold war’ in English, in 1945, but historian Martin McCauley has actually traced the phrase back to some 600 years before Orwell. Read the rest of this entry

The Best Virginia Woolf Books

The best Virginia Woolf novels and short-story collections, and why you should read them

Virginia Woolf wrote just nine novels, but she also left a number of volumes of non-fiction, an important volume of short stories, and an unusual work of biography, among countless essays and reviews. But what are Woolf’s best books? We’ve compiled our favourite top-ten list of Virginia Woolf’s books, with some interesting facts about each of them. What’s your personal recommendation for the best Virginia Woolf book?

10. The Years (1937). Woolf’s most popular novel during her lifetime, The Years spans over half a century from 1880 to the 1930s, chronicling the lives of one family, the Pargiters. Read the rest of this entry

The Origin of the Phrase ‘Goody Two-Shoes’

Where did the expression ‘Goody Two-Shoes’ come from? Its history is, in part, a literary one…

The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes was a story, published anonymously in 1765, about an orphan girl who goes through life wearing only one shoe. However, this wasn’t where the expression ‘goody two-shoes’ originally came from: the phrase is even older than that 1765 story. For instance, it’s found in Charles Cotton’s 1670 Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque:

Mistress mayoress complained that the pottage was cold;
‘And all long of your fiddle-faddle,’ quoth she.
‘Why, then, Goody Two-shoes, what if it be?
Hold you, if you can, your tittle-tattle,’ quoth he.

But it seems unclear exactly where the phrase originated. Read the rest of this entry

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