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Essays Plays

Shakespeare and the Essay

Essays: we’ve all written them, whether as school projects or as university assignments. (For those going through esay trauma, we’ve even compiled a list of some of our favourite tips for writing a good English Literature essay.) But where did the essay form come from? It was effectively invented by […]

Novels

Dickens and Catchphrases

The word ‘catchphrase’ first appears in print around 1850 (according to the OED), and so the birth of the phenomenon of the catchphrase (at least as a labelled and understood term) coincides somewhat with Charles Dickens’s own career as a writer. One of the biggest catchphrases of the 1830s and […]

Poetry

Chatterton the Teenage Romantic

In a previous post, we spoke of Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto as, effectively, ‘the forgery that began Gothic literature’. Another important forgery from the 1760s was the work of an adolescent, Thomas Chatterton. Born in Bristol in 1752, Chatterton started writing poetry at an early age, […]

Novels

Five Facts about Moby-Dick

1. Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick (note the hyphen, which many people omit), was subtitled The Whale and appeared in 1851. It signalled a change in the author’s fortunes, but not of the good kind: although he had been critically and commercially successful prior to the publication of Moby-Dick, this – […]