In times of populism, soundbites, and policy-by-twitter such as we live in today, the first victims to suffer the slings and arrows of the demagogues are intellectuals. These people have been demonised for prioritising the very thing that defines them: the intellect, or finely reasoned and sound argument. As we celebrate the 161st birthday of Bernard Shaw, one of the most gifted, influential, and well-known intellectuals to have lived, we might use the occasion to reassess the value of intellectuals to a healthy society and why those in power see them as such threats.
This year marks the 137th anniversary of the birth of Seán O’Casey, one of the best-known of all Irish playwrights. His works first enthralled audiences at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre during the 1920s, and in the years since then his dramas have been repeatedly revisited by actors and directors.
After a period of chastity, Margery Kempe’s husband described one of those hypothetical scenarios that couples sometimes use to test each other. “Margery, if a man came with a sword and wanted to chop off my head unless I had sexual intercourse with you as I used to before, […] [would you] allow my head to be chopped off, or else allow me to have sex with you as I previously did?”
Jane Austen wrote six novels and thousands of letters in her lifetime, creating a formula of social realism, comedic satire, and romance that is still loved today. Her works were originally published anonymously, bringing this now celebrated author little personal renown – with nineteenth century audiences preferring the Romantic and Victorian tropes of Charles Dickens and George Eliot. Since then, literary tastes and opinions have changed dramatically, and many people have written about, interpreted, and adapted Austen’s writings. But why do we like her stories so much? What can they tell us about her world, and ours?
In honour of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, we have created a quiz to help you determine how well you know the beloved novelist. Are you an Austen expert? Or do you need to brush up on some of her greatest works? Take the quiz to find out!
The Picture of Dorian Gray frequently ridicules the idea that fiction may have corrupting effects. But Wilde’s criticisms of the logic of obscenity law went beyond these statements about the sterility of the work of art.
Everyone knows William Shakespeare, the prolific English playwright and poet of the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. His extensive collection of comedies, tragedies, and romances are still very popular today. In fact, they are frequently referenced, adapted, and studied across the globe due to their reputation and his. In light of TNT’s new television series, Will, which premiered on 10 July we created a quiz to test your knowledge of Shakespeare’s works.
Mark Twain was notoriously unimpressed. “I often want to criticise Jane Austen,” he fumed with flamboyant but heartfelt irritation. “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone!”
Dawn Bartram is Library Development Area Supervisor, Skills and Learning, at Wakefield Libraries in the UK, and was the winner of our CILIP competition. Here Dawn expands on her winning entry, and talks us through the benefits and approach to setting up a library outreach programme in order to spread the word about the online resources available at your local library.
Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Nutshell, published in paperback this June, the month in which its author turns 69. McEwan forged an edgy early reputation by shell-shocking readers, or at least reviewers, with the violent, sexualised or neglected child narrators of his short stories.
With the summer months having firmly arrived, we thought it was a good time to look at some of the most memorable, and most beautiful literary depictions of summer. From Tennyson’s ‘perpetual summer’ to Charlotte Bronte’s balmy summer evenings, and from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist to the oppressive heat of Shakespeare’s ‘fair Verona’, discover literary summers through the ages…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential thinkers of the eighteenth century French enlightenment period. Born in Geneva in 1712, Rousseau made important contributions to philosophy, literature, and even music.
The Italian is a gripping tale of love and betrayal, abduction and assassination, and incarceration in the dreadful dungeons of the Inquisition. Uncertainty and doubt lie everywhere.
“A Flaming Fire Lily Among the Pale Blossoms of New England” poignantly points to the paradoxical nature behind the imaginative power of notable American author Harriet Prescott Spofford.
It’s difficult to imagine a Harry Potter-less world. This is not simply because since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997 the numbers attached to the franchise have become increasingly eye-watering, but because, quite unintentionally (perhaps), what began as a modest fantasy for children has helped to turn the literary world upside-down.
There aren’t many areas in literature where men are under-represented, but it’s safe to say that in children’s fiction, men – and fathers in particular – have been largely overlooked. And deliberately so. Adult carers with a sense of responsibility have been ousted from the action because of their exasperating tendency to step in and take control. Children’s authors don’t want competent adults interfering and solving problems.