Filed under 20th century literature

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

This is from the i paper by Dean Kirby. I was surprised to see the image of Orwell’s son. The 1930s seem so much further away than living history. Orwell is also important today with the rise in alternative readings of Britain’s colonial past.  When George Orwell was writing The Road to Wigan Pier – … Continue reading

Norfolk Witches

Norfolk Witches

This is from The Norfolk Broads published 1903  by William Dutt, as described by the rector of Rockland: He assured me that even now there were men and women in Rockland and its neighbourhood who sought the aid of “wise women” and “cunning men” when a child was lost; who would not allow their relatives … Continue reading

Food and Language

Food and Language

Indian food has become hugely popular in Britain, but it was not always so. when the first immigrants from the huge sub-continent arrived, their food was too spicy for local palates. Here’s a great story from Stuart Maconie on how he discovered this cuisine, from his book Pies and Prejudice, In Search of the North: … Continue reading

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters

This is a book that sounded intriguing – the tagline was ‘148 Diaries Found in a Skip’. Literary giant Margaret Drabble and historian Kate Sumerscale provided high praise, but I struggled to finish it. Masters discovered the mouldy and tattered diaries in 2001, full of dense handwriting and occasional drawings which began in 1952 and … Continue reading

Jack London’s London Journey Begins

Against all the advice of his friends and the authorities, Jack London purchases some dirty, frayed, working man’s clothes and sets forth on his journey, with some money seemed inside his singlet in case of emergency. He bids farewell to his friends and : No sooner was I out on the streets than I was … Continue reading

Jack London on London’s Poor

The horrors of life for the poor in London are so well documented by Charles Dickens that his surname has become synonymous with them. Together with the exhortations for change by The Times, and the work of social reformers, the Salvation Army and others, I thought things would have improved. I knew that many men … Continue reading

English Fairy Stories

English Fairy Stories

Here are some accounts of fairies from Nancy Arrowsmith’s A Field Guide to the Little People. Like a lot of such stories they seem somehow incomplete, as if the heart of the story has been lost through retelling, or mishearing over time. : A little girl had wandered far from he friends while picking flowers. … Continue reading

English Fairies

English Fairies

Here’s a piece from the wonderful A Field Guide to the Little People by Nancy Arrowsmith with George Morse: The word ‘fairy ‘ has been so often misused (especially by poets such as Spenser and Drayton) that it is very misleading to employ it as a scientific designation for a particular species of elf. the … Continue reading

Gorillas and Children

Here’s a great story from yesterday’s i paper: In his book The Best of Friends, John Aspinall tells of an incident at Basle zoo related to him by the director Dr Ernst Lang. ‘One evening, after the zoo was closed, a young girl employed to clean the service e corridor tested the door to Stefi’s … Continue reading