Reading Jane Austen

On Dr Bill Hutchings’s suggestions for approaching Austen, in a talk at The Portico Library.


Ms, marriage, and the myth of the feminazi

Considering linguistic conventions for women, and why it’s important to challenge them

Dalloway Day

A summary of the Royal Society of Literature’s inaugural celebration of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’.

‘Men may congratulate themselves…’

‘Men may congratulate themselves for writing truly and passionately about movements of nations; they may consider war and the search for God to be great literature’s only subjects; but if men’s standing in the world could be toppled by an ill-advised choice of hat, English literature would be dramatically changed.’

For Manchester, forever.

Originally posted on Left and Leaving:
Eight days ago we lost 22 of our own. I watched all this unfold from Colombia and it felt strange, watching the people of my city rise so fast from such a hard hit warmed my heart as much as the attack had broken it, not being able to…

Take a Walk on the Writer’s Side

If you walk straight down Oxford Road with Central Library at your back, you’ll pass the Palace Theatre on your way out of town. If you keep walking you’ll pass the Aquatics Centre, the RNCM and, if your legs aren’t tired yet, you’ll come to the Manchester Museum. If you walk a street across to…

Auf diese Stadt

‘Und wir ahnten, die Völker der Welt schauten auf diese Stadt.’ So sings Reinhard Mey in his beautifully poetic Mein Berlin, released in 1990. It refers to the Berlin air lift, when Allied countries flew planes over their sectors of Berlin (which was divided into four occupied zones following WW2), dropping much-needed supplies to citizens…

Full as Much Heart

‘Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?’ So questions fiery and beloved heroine Jane Eyre, the title character of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel. I was struck by her outburst recently, when visiting the little village of Haworth which was home to the four surviving Brontë children…

Perhaps You’re Smiling Now

Over a year ago, when the world reeled at the death of glam rock superstar David Bowie, he certainly ‘became the special man’ just like his fictional alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Hailed as a creative genius, the legacy of his enormous influence on pop music and stagecraft was undeniable and all-pervasive. Everyone knew Bowie was…

And I’m Busting Up My Brains for the Words

Unfortunately, I don’t think that there’s room enough in a single blog post to do justice to the whole of David Bowie’s ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ album. This concept album follows a sexually-free, rock ‘n’ rolling alien messiah who comes to earth in the final five years…

The Answer, My Friend?

This December, at the Oslo City Hall, Norway, a representative of Bob Dylan will collect his Nobel Prize for Literature, around two months after he was announced as the winner of the prestigious award. The public surprise and controversy over the songwriter’s receipt of the accolade inevitably raises the question: what is literature? We use…