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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 – […]

Essays Novels

George Orwell at the Pub

The man who, among many other achievements,¬†inspired two television programmes, Big Brother and Room 101, and painted a chilling dystopian portrayal of a totalitarian state in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, also unofficially provided the blueprint for many of the pubs in modern Britain. George Orwell was an influential essayist as […]

Gothic Novels

Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde

It’s one of the most famous concepts in fiction: the idea of the dual personality. Robert Louis Stevenson cannot take the credit for inventing it – Edgar Allan Poe and Dostoyevsky had both written tales about ‘the double’ in the 1840s, some forty years before Stevenson put pen to paper […]

Plays Poetry Short stories

The Shortest…

The shortest play in the world is probably by Samuel Beckett. ‘Breath’ is a 1969 work that was specially written for the theatrical revue Oh! Calcutta! The revue was organised by theatre critic Kenneth Tynan and brought together a host of famous people, including John Lennon and Sam Shepard. The […]