Vanity Fair

New post for the Wordsworth Editions Blog… Sometime between 1845 and 1846, the literary journalist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863) drafted a few short pieces entitled Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society (illustrated by himself), which he hoped would constitute the opening chapters of an as yet unspecified longer work. ‘The truth forces itself upon me,’ he… Continue reading Vanity Fair

Treasure Island

Extract of a piece originally written for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... ...Although a recognised essayist and travel writer, Treasure Island was Stevenson’s first novel, discounting some unfinished juvenilia which he had burned. This was in the hope of making his craft pay, because, as he later wrote in ‘My First Book’: By that time I… Continue reading Treasure Island

The Essence of the Gothic: In Conversation with Audrey Chin

Extract of an interview on the ‘Essence of the Gothic’ with novelist Audrey Chin What is Gothic literature? Is there a difference between the modern and Victorian variety? Or the Asian and European ones? And why is it considered part of the literature of subversion? I’m a neophyte to the genre. Indeed, I would not have… Continue reading The Essence of the Gothic: In Conversation with Audrey Chin

Huckleberry Finn

Extract of a piece originally published by Wordsworth Editions… ...Although a much more complex novel than Tom Sawyer, the story of Huckleberry Finn is deceptively simple. Huck and Jim drift down the Mississippi Valley through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee, ending up in Arkansas where Tom Sawyer re-joins the narrative having been left behind in St. Petersburg… Continue reading Huckleberry Finn

Tom Sawyer

Extract from a post originally published by Wordsworth Editions… ...Children’s literature was already an established genre on both sides of the Atlantic, the so-called ‘First Golden Age of Children’s Fiction’ heralded by the English translation of Johann David Wyss’ The Swiss Family Robinson (1812). Wyss had written the book for his sons to deliver Christian moral lessons… Continue reading Tom Sawyer

Looking for Kafka

Extract of a piece for Wordsworth Editions Kafka was born in Prague on July 3, 1883, the oldest of six children, to a prosperous middle-class Jewish family. Then the capital of Bohemia, Prague was a melting pot of different nationalities, languages, and political and social structures, all of which existed uneasily side-by-side, trying to find… Continue reading Looking for Kafka

Moby Dick

Extract from an article originally published by Wordsworth Editions… The Whale (renamed Moby-Dick at the last minute) was birthed after an 18-month labour including a substantial rewrite that saw Melville sailing so close to the wind that he was still editing proofs when the novel went to print in the autumn of 1851. Although the original plan… Continue reading Moby Dick

‘The longest and most charming love letter in literature’ – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

Originally published by Wordsworth Editions… Towards the end of 1927 – following the publication of To the Lighthouse in May – Virginia Woolf took what she described as a ‘writer’s holiday’. Not that this meant a holiday from writing; rather it was a break from the intensity of her ongoing Modernist experiment. ‘For the truth is,’ she… Continue reading ‘The longest and most charming love letter in literature’ – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

The Wild World of Professor Challenger

Originally published by Wordsworth Editions… On the evening of June 2, 1922, at an American Society of Magicians dinner at the Hotel McAlpine, New York, after the whiskey and cigars, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there as a guest of Harry Houdini, was given leave to set up a screen and projector. The famous author proceeded to astound… Continue reading The Wild World of Professor Challenger

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Extract of a my latest piece for the Wordsworth Editions Blog… Literary legend has it that Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde originated, quite appropriately, from his unconscious. He dreamed it. This was during one of many periods when he was confined to bed because of his haemorrhaging lungs, or ‘Bluidy Jack’… Continue reading The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde