Latest News and Blog Posts

Unfriend [Wednesday Word] – older than you think

Unfriend: “I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.” OED citation, 1659.

Compare The Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe, 1794: “But I believed, niece, you had a greater sense of propriety than to have received the visits of any young man in your present unfriended situation.”

As I write a piece on

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Fliddermouse and other regionalisms [Wednesday Word]

Fliddermouse means bat. In Devon.

The BBC Voices recordings capture 1,200 people in conversation. Some of the clips are people talking about language – slang, dialect, taboo words, accents. Other clips cover all sorts of subjects and simply offer a flavour of how we talk today. As the website says, you may eavesdrop on Rotarians in Pitlochry and Travellers

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Adulterers, anarchists, sleuths

Adulterers, anarchists and sleuths? That’s a recipe worth supping. I certainly don’t mind a bit of Jane Morris. Which of us does (especially with free entry)?

Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris, William Morris Gallery, London

But I shall first be heading to Poor Man’s Picture Gallery, Tate Britain, London, Free to all

“The Victorians were obsessed with stereoscopic

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Would you Survive the Victorian Era?

A fripperous and anomalous diversion from the important business of building empires/sweeping chimneys, but it has nice pictures. (Created By Charlotte Brindley for PlayBuzz.) As for the chronology (Pride and Prejudice not Victorian), let us say no more:

playbuzz.com/charlotteb11/would-you-survive-the-victorian-era

Gothic Tales at the BL

Gothic Tales at the BL

An evening of mysterious and ghostly stories. Among the guest readers will be writer and comedian Stewart Lee, author and illustrator Audrey Niffenegger and actor Reece Shearsmith.

Name: Gothic tales Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
Show map     

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Hiding and Jekylling

My Gothic season continues with Ian Rankin hiding and jekyllingon @BBCiPlayer.

Crime writer Ian Rankin investigates The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and does so with passion and curiosity.

Starting with Robert Louis Stevenson’s nightmare in September 1885, Rankin digs through the roots of this story. Stevenson’s tender childhood was filled with tales of double lives and grave-robbers,

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Terror and Wonder

Terror and Wonder

is an illuminating exhibit at the British Library, running till 20 Jan 2015. It stretches from the dark and satanic, through the scientific and psychological to the sociological and weird. It centres on books, glancing along the way at art, poetry, film, music and fine art.

I enjoyed the whirlwind tour, and the Jekyll/Hyde pencils

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Gothic Links

When Gothic Was Born

Torrid pot-pourri of the horrid and the horrifying on radio and TV.

12 BBC FOUR PROGRAMMES in celebration of all things Gothic, exploring the literature, architecture, music and artworks that have taken such a prominent place in British culture.

Podcasting: Invasion of the Pod People

I write for magazines in Europe and South America on travel, music and language. This, from Go! English, is a simplistic guide for newcomers to Podcasts, but you may find the links and suggestions section at the end useful. With special admiration for Helen and Olly of Answer Me This, whose BBC programme gave a great overview of the subject.

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Zones of Avoidance, by Maggie Sawkins

I enjoyed Maggie Sawkins’ Zones of Avoidance even more second time round, if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word for a show that left me sobbing.

Though Zones of Avoidance won Maggie the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for Poetry, this is no mere poetry reading. Maggie and her director Mark C. Hewitt have woven a tapestry of words and images, telling the story

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