"Grief feels like love. Sometimes you press on that tender spot, because it’s as close as you can get to the person who is otherwise gone.” – Kate Brody
Posts tagged "Shakespeare"
Barmaids and landladies in fiction

Barmaids and landladies in fiction

My new psychological thriller What We Did in the Storm is set on the beautiful Isles of Scilly, pitching dark secrets and even darker deeds against stunning scenery. My lead character happens to be a barmaid working on the island, so I blithely suggested compiling a Top Ten list of fictional barmaids and landladies. Easy,...
A semblance of order

A semblance of order

Ana Sampson’s latest poetry anthology Gods and Monsters, illustrated by Chris Riddell and with a foreword by Natalie Haynes, draws together classic and brand-new mythological poems from around the world. With retellings and reimaginings of Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Aztec, Japanese and Inuit myths, it includes poems from Neil Gaiman, W.B. Yeats, Kae Tempest,...
Fairies and angels, the old nest, purple emperors

Fairies and angels, the old nest, purple emperors

1 JULY:  I was joking to a friend the other day that after a year watching kingfishers I’d be well equipped to start looking for fairies, or even angels. I felt there were similarities in that they might be all around us but most people have never seen one. I reckoned that the waiting, seeing...
“With affection, wondrous sensible” – a life of reading Shakespeare

“With affection, wondrous sensible” – a life of reading Shakespeare

For Leonard Barkan, even the littlest things can mean the world. It is not size, but substance that truly matters. Readers of his (many, and “wondrous sensible”) books should take good note of this, and never skim, skip, or, worse even, skivvy, over his words or pages, for nothing in them is a mere “mouthful...
Shakespeare's advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s advice to writers? Use the pandemic (sometimes)

Shakespeare’s life was defined by the bubonic plague. What can we learn from the OG of pandemic writers? Make it count Today’s writers should deploy our pandemic’s memento mori – face masks, hand sanitiser, refrigerated morgue trucks – sparingly. Overuse lessens impact. Shakespeare knew this: he reserves images of miasmas (plague-spreading pockets of corrupted air)...
Bees can teach us a great deal – but what?

Bees can teach us a great deal – but what?

From antiquity and until very recently bees were likened to exemplary subjects in a perfect monarchy. It was taken for granted that they were ruled by a king because Aristotle had said so in the fourth century B.C.E. and his word – not just about bees but almost everything else as well – would remain...
Not quite the way to the stars

Not quite the way to the stars

“O, it is excellent / To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.” Shakespeare certainly knew his Romans; even though the lines that capture so brilliantly – and devastatingly – the allure of power and its raw brutality come from Measure for Measure, they could well have...
Black is the badge of hell

Black is the badge of hell

“Black is the badge of hell / the hue of dungeons and the school of night,” laments Ferdinand, King of Navarre in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour Lost. Some versions of the text offer scowl, style or suit instead of school, and one is tempted to think that Stephen Greenblatt would have boldly and keenly pressed for...
Puppetmasters

Puppetmasters

Do you ever have the feeling that somebody or something is influencing your life in some way? Making you do the foolish things that you know you really shouldn’t, providing snakes where in fact you should be going up ladders? You’re quite right. There is. The somebody is you, programmed to do what you do...
A family feud

A family feud

It was Monday, July the tenth in the year 1499. A restless moment in a restless world. Rodrigo Borgia reigned as Pope Alexander the Sixth, a pontiff as fond of corruption and debauchery as he was of pomp and ritual. In Florence a brief republic was struggling to emerge from the ruins left by the...
The Talleyrand of East Africa

The Talleyrand of East Africa

“’Ullo, I am ze Breetish Consul.” My startled reaction revealed my prejudice. I didn’t cover it well. “You can’t be. You’re French!” “Eet is a long stohry. Shall we ’ave a drink?” We sat down. One by one the other members of the company came to join us, dressed in their evening casual best, and...
Approaching Onegin

Approaching Onegin

Alexander Pushkin is, by universal assent, the most important figure in the history of Russian culture, and his finest work is Yevgeny Onegin (1823–31). He is to Russia what Dante is to Italy, Shakespeare to England and Cervantes to Spain, and for the Russians his novel in verse is a rough equivalent to those other...