Cultivating Communities: The Influence of Continental Women on English Medieval Women’s Literate Practices

Woodcut of St Catherine of Siena from Wynkyn de Worde's printed edition The Orcherd of Syon (1519)

The fifteenth century saw the emergence of continental women’s mystical works appearing in England, facilitated by the early printed textual tradition of Wynkyn de Worde and William Caxton (Grisé Holy Women in Print 83). Indeed, the translation of the works of women such as St Catherine of Siena (1347-8), St Bridget of Sweden (c.1302/3-73), and […]

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An introduction to the Exeter Book

Exeter Book manuscript

In 970 AD, one of the UK’s greatest literary treasures was written: the Exeter Book. It is probably the oldest surviving book of poetry from Anglo-Saxon England, and contains a fascinating array of Old English works, from Christian and elegaic poems, to riddles! The book was bequeathed to Exeter Cathedral Library by the first bishop […]

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William Wordsworth and the Lake District

The Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) spent most of his life in the Lake District, living with his sister Dorothy and his wife Mary Hutchinson. In this video I’ll show you the places and landscapes that influenced his poetry! Places Featured: Dove Cottage, Grasmere Owned by the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage is lovely to explore, […]

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Sweeney Todd and The String of Pearls

186 Fleet Street home of Sweeney Todd

The fictional story of Sweeney Todd, the London barber who kills his victims and makes them into pies with his accomplice Mrs Lovett, has captivated audiences for almost two hundred years. While numerous films ensure Todd’s tale remains in the popular imagination, where did his story originate?     In 1846-7 the British “hack writer” […]

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The Victoria Letters by Helen Rappaport

Queen Victoria Buckingham Palace

In the popular imagination, perceptions of Queen Victoria are associated with ideas of her as a formidable monarch, often stating “We are not amused”.  However, Helen Rappaport’s book, The Victoria Letters, written in conjunction with ITV’s television series Victoria, incorporates Queen Victoria’s diaries to bring to life her vivacious and gregarious personality, focusing on events […]

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The Great Fire of London and The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys Great Fire of London

350 years ago on the 2nd September 1666, the Great Fire of London began, causing significant destruction throughout the city. Over 100,000 people lost their homes and 436 acres of city were destroyed before the fire was extinguished on the 6th September 1666. But how did the fire start, and what do literary works have […]

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#PenguinClassics70

Penguin Classics books

2016 marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Classics and in order to celebrate, I’ve decided to compile a list of the Classics that I’ve found influential. Let me know which Penguin Classics you would include!   The Odyssey, Homer (c.750-700 BC) Where better to start than with Homer’s Odyssey, the first Penguin Classics title published […]

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The Setting of London in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

Victorian London map British Library

This is an adapted version of one of my university essays which looks at the setting of London in relation to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. Let me know if you have any favourite novels set in Victorian London! Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and Charles Dickens’s […]

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Anglo-Saxon Literature Recommendations

Beowulf manuscript British Library

  When I tell my friends I enjoy studying Anglo-Saxon literature, I am usually met with looks of shock and the response, “Why?”  Considering the Anglo-Saxon period spanned over 600 years, from the fall of the Roman Empire around 410 AD to 1066, it is no surprise the literature from this era is so wide-ranging. […]

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Documentary: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

What were The Canterbury Tales actually about, and why were they so popular in the Middle Ages? In this short documentary (the first I have made)! I answer these questions and tell the stories of Chaucer’s pilgrims.

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