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

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

‘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 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

The Opium Eaters – A Work in Progress

If anyone was wondering, this is what I'm currently writing. This project grew out of a panel I spoke on at The Bradford Literature Festival in 2019... THE OPIUM EATERS: High Literature and the Art of Addiction (Morton Books) When the brilliant Oxford drop-out and freelance journalist Thomas De Quincey published his seminal article ‘Confessions of… Continue reading The Opium Eaters – A Work in Progress

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Extract of a piece I wrote for Wordsworth Editions just before Christmas on The Picture of Dorian Gray... ...As a narcissist and living work of art, in Nietzschean terms Dorian is an ‘Apollonian’ figure and Hallward also paints him as Adonis, Narcissus, Paris, and Antinous. Against nature, he has the cold edge of the purely aesthetic;… Continue reading The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Gothic Life of Edgar Allan Poe

Extract from my Halloween Blog for Wordsworth Editions Desperate for money, Poe accepted another assistant editorship at Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (who had given Pym a rotten review), again for $10 a week. Disheartened by his novel’s reception and aware that his theories of art did not lend themselves to long narratives, Poe returned to short… Continue reading The Gothic Life of Edgar Allan Poe

The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor

Extract from a contextual review for Wordsworth Editions, originally entitled ‘Based on the Writings of Henry James’: The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor'. The Innocents (UK, 1961) is a scary film based on a scary book. Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw was first published as a… Continue reading The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor