English Literature

Moon walks with the Romantic poets

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Several years ago, I was interviewing the garden writer and designer Sarah Raven at her home in Sussex when a…

Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Biographers are a shady lot. For all their claims about immortalising someone in print, as if their ink were a…

Portrait of the Artist’s wife, by Henry Herbert La Thangue. Credit: Bridgeman Images

Tear-stained ramblings that remained unsent

5 January 2019 9:00 am

The deserved success of Shaun Usher’s marvellous anthology Letters of Note has inspired several imitators, and Caroline Atkins’s sparkling collection…

The Godfather: Edward Garnett had a keen eye for talent, but was blind to modernism

Edward Garnett and his diligent blue pencil

9 December 2017 9:00 am

Edward Garnett, radical, pacifist, freethinker, Russophile man of letters, was from the 1890s onwards for many years the pre-eminent fixer…

The interior of the Swan Theatre, Southwark, in 1596, based on a sketch by a Dutch traveller, Johannes de Witt, and probably the best indicator of what the Globe Theatre would have looked like.

William Shakespeare: all things to all men

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Who’s there? Shakespeare’s most famous play opens with this slightly hokey line, and the question remains for his countless audiences,…

The life of Thomas De Quincey: a Gothic horror story

9 April 2016 9:00 am

This biography of the craven Romantic and self-confessed ‘Pope of Opium’ concludes with the ominous words: ‘We are all De…

William Hogarth’s ‘Night’, in his series ‘Four Times of the Day’ (1736), provides a glimpse of the anarchy and squalor of London’s nocturnal streets

Dickens’s dark side: walking at night helped ease his conscience at killing off characters

21 March 2015 9:00 am

In England, walking about at night was a crime for a very long time. William the Conqueror ordained that a…

All you’ll ever need to know about the history of England in one volume

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Here is a stupendous achievement: a narrative history of England which is both thorough and arresting. Very few writers could…

Michael Gove did not kill Of Mice and Men or To Kill A Mockingbird

31 May 2014 9:00 am

I suppose I should be grateful that the liberal intelligentsia doesn’t bother to check any of the facts if an…

Memoirs of an academic brawler  

22 March 2014 9:00 am

It’s a misleading title, because there is nothing unexpected about Professor Carey, in any sense. He doesn’t turn up to…

Middlemarch: the novel that reads you

15 March 2014 9:00 am

The genesis of The Road to Middlemarch was a fine article in the New Yorker about  Rebecca Mead’s unsuccessful search…

Anorexia, addiction, child-swapping — the Lake Poets would have alarmed social services

5 October 2013 9:00 am

The last time the general reader was inveigled into the domestic intensities of the Wordsworth circle was by Frances Wilson…