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

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 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

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

Moll Flanders

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... Like its famous predecessor, Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders is a story of survival. But instead of being shipwrecked on an uninhabited island ‘near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque’, the novel’s protagonist arguably has a more insurmountable problem, that of being born a poor… Continue reading Moll Flanders

Mary Barton

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... In 1848, Europe was experiencing the greatest upheaval since Napoleon. The year had begun with a revolution in the Two Sicilies; by February, the French had declared another republic and Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto. By March, there were barricades in Berlin, riots in Sweden,… Continue reading Mary Barton

The Other Brontë Girl

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... In her introduction to the 1914 edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the author and critic May Sinclair reminded her fellow Modernists how radical Anne Brontë’s second and final novel had been. When Anne depicted her protagonist, Helen Huntingdon, slamming her bedroom door in her abusive husband’s… Continue reading The Other Brontë Girl

Northanger Abbey

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... Often taken to be a spoof of the gothic writings of Mrs Radcliffe, particularly The Mysteries of Udolpho, Jane Austen’s first (and oddly final) novel is in fact much sneakier than that. It is a novel about novels; that fledgling and modern artform that was to become the… Continue reading Northanger Abbey

The Rise of the Gothic Novel

New post for Wordsworth Editions Blog... During the Renaissance, ‘gothic’ was a label for all things barbarous. To European Humanist intellectuals, there were two epochs of cultural excellence in human history: the Classical and their own. These were separated by a terrible period of ignorance and brutality – the Dark and Middle Ages – brought… Continue reading The Rise of the Gothic Novel