In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle revisits Mary Shelley’s misunderstood parable and founding text of science fiction Frankenstein is one of a handful of nineteenth-century fictional creations that went truly global and became ingrained in the popular consciousness. Along with Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, Mary Shelley’s character has flown free […]
Previously, we’ve picked the best of Virginia Woolf’s novels and non-fiction works, but she was also a fine writer of very short stories. Although Woolf didn’t write a great amount of short fiction, a number of her short stories are classic examples of early twentieth-century modernism. All five stories are included in The Mark on […]
‘Tell me not here, it needs not saying’ is one of the most famous poems from A. E. Housman’s second volume, Last Poems (1922). In this poem, which comes near the end of the collection, Housman reflects on his relationship with nature, before concluding that, although nature does not care or even know about him, […]
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle rereads T. S. Eliot’s classic poem about a Britain in decline It’s nearly a century since T. S. Eliot, having just turned thirty, announced his intention to write a long poem about the contemporary world. Several letters he wrote in 1919 see him declaring […]
On one of Hardy’s classic ‘Poems of 1912-13’ ‘Beeny Cliff’ is one of Thomas Hardy’s best-loved poems, and belongs to the ‘Poems of 1912-13’ which he wrote in the wake of the death of his first wife, Emma. Although he and Emma had been estranged for many years when she died, her death provoked Hardy […]
Are these D. H. Lawrence’s greatest short stories? D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) wrote novels, short stories, and poems, among many other things. Although he died in his mid-forties – from tuberculosis – he was a prolific writer who left behind a vast body of work, including many short stories. Below, we’ve picked five of Lawrence’s […]
‘On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble’: it’s one of A. E. Housman’s most arresting opening lines. Why, or indeed how, is the wood ‘in trouble’? What follows is one of the greatest poetic meditations on the smallness of the individual life when set against the grand sweep of history. On Wenlock Edge the wood’s […]
‘Lapis Lazuli’ belongs to W. B. Yeats’s late phase, in the 1930s. Like a number of Yeats’s other late poems, it is concerned with the place and treatment of art in the modern world, a situation which Yeats considers by taking in all of history. The poem’s ‘argument’ takes a bit of unpicking; before we […]
What is the meaning of the tale of Bluebeard? Is the story of Bluebeard based on a real person? Perhaps more so than any other fairy tale, we want to know whether the chilling tale of the serial killer and wife-murderer (and perhaps the example par excellence of toxic masculinity in children’s literature) is based […]
On one of Mansfield’s finest stories ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’: as titles go, it is one of Katherine Mansfield’s more helpfully instructive. This modernist short story from 1922 focuses on Josephine and Constantia, or ‘Jug’ and ‘Con’ as they affectionately know each other, two sisters whose father, the ‘late colonel’ of the story’s […]
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