William Blake

William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake's work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts. He was voted 38th in a poll of the 100 Greatest Britons organised by the BBC in 2002.

According to Northrop Frye, who undertook a study of Blake's entire poetic corpus, his prophetic poems form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language." Others have praised Blake's visual artistry, at least one modern critic proclaiming Blake "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced."[1] Once considered mad for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is highly regarded today for his expressiveness and creativity, and the philosophical vision that underlies his work. He himself once indicated, "The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself."

While his visual art and written poetry are usually considered separately, Blake often employed them in concert to create a product that at once defied and superseded convention. Though he believed himself able to converse aloud with Old Testament prophets, and despite his work in illustrating the Book of Job, Blake's affection for the Bible was accompanied by hostility for the established Church, his beliefs modified by a fascination with Mysticism and the unfolding of the Romantic Movement around him.[2] Ultimately, the difficulty of placing William Blake in any one chronological stage of art history is perhaps the distinction that best defines him.
Early life
William Blake was born in 28A Broad Street, Golden Square, London, England on 28 November 1757, to a middle-class family. He was the third of seven children, who consisted of one girl and six boys, two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a hosier. He never attended school, being educated at home by his mother.[3] The Blakes were Dissenters, and are believed to have belonged to the Moravian Church. The Bible was an early and profound influence on Blake, and would remain a source of inspiration throughout his life.

Blake began engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father (a further indication of the support his parents lent their son), a practice that was then preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings Blake found his first exposure to classical forms, through the work of Raphael, Michelangelo, Marten Heemskerk and Albrecht Dürer. His parents knew enough of his headstrong temperament that he was not sent to school but was instead enrolled in drawing classes. He read avidly on subjects of his own choosing. During this period, Blake was also making explorations into poetry; his early work displays knowledge of Ben Jonson and Edmund Spenser.

Apprenticeship to Basire
On 4 August 1772, Blake became apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, for the term of seven years. At the end of this period, at the age of 21, he was to become a professional engraver.

There is no record of any serious disagreement or conflict between the two during the period of Blake's apprenticeship. However, Peter Ackroyd's biography notes that Blake was later to add Basire's name to a list of artistic adversaries—and then cross it out.[4] This aside, Basire's style of engraving was of a kind held to be old-fashioned at the time, and Blake's instruction in this outmoded form may have had a detrimental effect on his struggles to acquire work or even recognition in later life.[citation needed]

After two years Basire sent him to copy images from the Gothic churches in London (it is possible that this task was set in order to break up a quarrel between Blake and James Parker, his fellow apprentice), and his experiences in Westminster Abbey contributed to the formation of his artistic style and ideas; the Abbey of his day was decorated with suits of armour, painted funeral effigies and varicoloured waxworks. Ackroyd notes that "the most immediate [impression] would have been of faded brightness and colour".[5] In the long afternoons Blake spent sketching in the Abbey, he was occasionally interrupted by the boys of Westminster School, one of whom "tormented" Blake so much one afternoon that he knocked the boy off a scaffold to the ground, "upon which he fell with terrific Violence". Blake beheld more visions in the Abbey, of a great procession of monks and priests, while he heard "the chant of plain-song and chorale".

The archetype of the Creator is a familiar image in his work. Here, Blake depicts his demiurgic figure Urizen stooped in prayer, contemplating the world he has forged. The Song of Los is the third in a series of illuminated books painted by Blake and his wife, collectively known as the Continental Prophecies.
The Royal Academy
In 1778, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period. There, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as Rubens, championed by the school's first president, Joshua Reynolds. Over time, Blake came to detest Reynolds' attitude toward art, especially his pursuit of "general truth" and "general beauty". Reynolds wrote in his Discourses that the "disposition to abstractions, to generalizing and classification, is the great glory of the human mind"; Blake responded, in marginalia to his personal copy, that "To Generalize is to be an Idiot; To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit".[6] Blake also disliked Reynolds' apparent humility, which he held to be a form of hypocrisy. Against Reynolds' fashionable oil painting, Blake preferred the Classical precision of his early influences, Michelangelo and Raphael.

In June 1780, Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that stormed Newgate Prison in London. Many among the mob were wearing blue cockades on their caps, to symbolise solidarity with the insurrection in the American colonies. They attacked the prison gates with shovels and pickaxes, set the building ablaze, and released the prisoners inside. Blake was reportedly in the front rank of the mob during this attack; most biographers believe he accompanied the crowd impulsively.

These riots, in response to a parliamentary bill revoking sanctions against Roman Catholicism, later came to be known as the Gordon Riots; they provoked a flurry of legislation from the government of George III, as well as the creation of the first police force.

Marriage and early career
In 1782, Blake met John Flaxman, who was to become his patron, and Catherine Boucher, who was to become his wife. At the time, Blake was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal. Telling Catherine and her parents the story, she expressed her sympathy, whereupon Blake asked her, "Do you pity me?" To Catherine's affirmative response he responded, "Then I love you." Blake married Catherine – who was five years his junior – on 18 August 1782 in St. Mary's Church, Battersea. Illiterate, Catherine signed her wedding contract with an 'X'. Later, in addition to teaching Catherine to read and write, Blake trained her as an engraver; throughout his life she would prove an invaluable aid to him, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes.

At this time George Cumberland, one of the founders of the National Gallery, became an admirer of Blake's work. Blake's first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published around 1783. After his father's death, William and his brother Robert opened a print shop in 1784, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson. Johnson's house was a place of meeting for some of the leading intellectual dissidents of the time in England: Joseph Priestley, scientist; Richard Price, philosopher; John Henry Fuseli;[7] Mary Wollstonecraft, an early feminist; and Thomas Paine, American revolutionary. Along with William Wordsworth and William Godwin, Blake had great hopes for the American and French revolution and wore a red liberty cap in solidarity with the French revolutionaries, but despaired with the rise of Robespierre and the Reign of Terror in the French revolution.

Blake illustrated Original Stories from Real Life (1788; 1791) by Mary Wollstonecraft. They seem to have shared some views on sexual equality and the institution of marriage, but there is no evidence proving without doubt that they actually met. In 1793's Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Blake condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfillment.

Relief etching
In 1788, at the age of 31, Blake began to experiment with relief etching, a method he would use to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and of course his poems, including his longer 'prophecies' and his masterpiece the "Bible". The process is also referred to as illuminated printing, and final products as illuminated books or prints. Illuminated printing involved writing the text of the poems on copper plates with pens and brushes, using an acid-resistant medium. Illustrations could appear alongside words in the manner of earlier illuminated manuscripts. He then etched the plates in acid in order to dissolve away the untreated copper and leave the design standing in relief (hence the name). This is a reversal of the normal method of etching, where the lines of the design are exposed to the acid, and the plate printed by the intaglio method. Relief etching, which Blake invented, later became an important commercial printing method. The pages printed from these plates then had to be hand-coloured in water colours and stitched together to make up a volume. Blake used illuminated printing for most of his well-known works, including Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Book of Thel, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Jerusalem.

Blake's "Newton" is a demonstration of his opposition to the "single-vision" of scientific materialism: The great philosopher-scientist is isolated in the depths of the ocean, his eyes (only one of which is visible) fixed on the compasses with which he draws on a scroll. He seems almost at one with the rocks upon which he sits (1795).
Later life and career
Blake's marriage to Catherine remained a close and devoted one until his death. There were early problems, however, such as Catherine's illiteracy and the couple's failure to produce children. Gilchrist refers to "stormy times" in the early years of the marriage.[8] It is possible that at one point, in accordance with the beliefs of the Swedenborgian Society, Blake suggested bringing in a concubine.[9] Catherine was distressed at the idea, and Blake promptly withdrew it. Blake taught her to write, and she helped him to colour his printed poems.[10]

Around the year 1800 Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham in Sussex (now West Sussex) to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake wrote Milton: a Poem (published between 1805 and 1808). The preface to this work includes a poem beginning "And did those feet in ancient time", which became the words for the patriotic song, "Jerusalem". Over time, Blake came to resent his new patron, coming to believe that Hayley was not paying as well as he could afford to pay.

Blake returned to London in 1802 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–1820), his most ambitious work. Having conceived the idea of portraying the characters in Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims, Blake approached the dealer Robert Cromek, with a view to marketing an engraving. Knowing that Blake was too eccentric to produce a popular work, Cromek promptly commissioned Thomas Stothard to execute the concept. When Blake learned that he had been cheated, he broke off contact with Stothard, formerly a friend. He also set up an independent exhibition in his brother's shop, designed to market his own version of the Chaucer illustraton, along with other works. As a result he wrote his Descriptive Catalogue (1809), which contains what Anthony Blunt has called a "brilliant analysis" of Chaucer. It is regularly anthologised as a classic of Chaucer criticism.[11] It also contained detailed explanations of his other paintings.

He was introduced by George Cumberland to a young artist named John Linnell. Through Linnell he met Samuel Palmer, who belonged to a group of artists who called themselves the Shoreham Ancients. This group shared Blake's rejection of modern trends and his belief in a spiritual and artistic New Age. At the age of 65 Blake began work on illustrations for the Book of Job. These works were later admired by Ruskin, who compared Blake favourably to Rembrandt, and by Vaughan Williams, who based his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing on a selection of the illustrations.

Blake's "A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows", an illustration to J. G. Stedman's Narrative, of a Five Years' Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796).Blake abhorred slavery and believed in racial and sexual equality.[12] Several of his poems and paintings express a notion of universal humanity: "As all men are alike (tho' infinitely various)". He retained an active interest in social and political events for all his life, but was often forced to resort to cloaking social idealism and political statements in Protestant mystical allegory.

He rejected all forms of imposed authority; indeed, he was charged with assault and uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the King in 1803, though he later was cleared in the Chichester assizes of the charges. The charges were brought by a soldier called John Schofield after Blake had bodily removed him from his garden, allegedly exclaiming, "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves."[13] According to a report in the Sussex county paper, "The invented character of [the evidence] was ... so obvious that an acquittal resulted."[14] Schofield was later depicted wearing "mind forged manacles" in an illustration to Jerusalem.[15]

Blake's views on what he saw as oppression and restriction of rightful freedom extended to the Church. His spiritual beliefs are evidenced in Songs of Experience (in 1794), in which he shows his own distinction between the Old Testament God, whose restrictions he rejected, and the New Testament God (Jesus Christ in Trinitarianism), whom he saw as a positive influence.

Later in his life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life.

Portrait of William Blake drawn by John Linnell (1820)
Dante's Inferno
The commission for Dante's Inferno came to Blake in 1826 through Linnell, with the ultimate aim of producing a series of engravings. However, Blake's death in 1827 would cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of the watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form. Even so, they have evoked praise:

'[T]he Dante watercolours are among Blake's richest achievements, engaging fully with the problem of illustrating a poem of this complexity. The mastery of watercolour has reached an even higher level than before, and is used to extraordinary effect in differentiating the atmosphere of the three states of being in the poem'. (David Bindman, "Blake as a Painter" in The Cambridge Guide to William Blake, Morris Eaves (ed.), Cambridge, 2003, p. 106)
Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text. In illustrating Paradise Lost, for instance, Blake seemed intent on revising Milton's focus on Satan as the central figure of the epic; for example, in Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve (1808) Satan occupies an isolated position at the picture's top, with Adam and Eve centered below. As if to emphasise the effects of the juxtaposition, Blake has shown Adam and Eve caught in an embrace, whereas Satan may only onanistically caress the serpent, whose identity he is close to assuming.

In this instance, because the project was never completed, Blake's intent may itself be obscured. Some indicators, however, bolster the impression that Blake's illustrations in their totality would themselves take issue with the text they accompany: In the margin of Homer Bearing the Sword and His Companions, Blake notes, "Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost." Blake seems to dissent from Dante's admiration of the poetic works of the ancient Greeks, and from the apparent glee with which Dante allots punishments in Hell (as evidenced by the grim humour of the cantos).

At the same time, Blake shared Dante's distrust of materialism and the corruptive nature of power, and clearly relished the opportunity to represent the atmosphere and imagery of Dante's work pictorially. Even as he seemed to near death, Blake's central preoccupation was his feverish work on the illustrations to Dante's Inferno; he is said to have spent one of the very last shillings he possessed on a pencil to continue sketching. (Blake Records, 341)

Blake's death

The Room in which William Blake Died, depicted by Frederic ShieldsOn the day of his death, Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses.[16] At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died. Gilchrist reports that a female lodger in the same house, present at his expiration, said, "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel."[17]

George Richmond gives the following account of Blake's death in a letter to Samuel Palmer:

He died ... in a most glorious manner. He said He was going to that Country he had all His life wished to see & expressed Himself Happy, hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ — Just before he died His Countenance became fair. His eyes Brighten'd and he burst out Singing of the things he saw in Heaven.[18]

Monument near Blake's unmarked grave in LondonCatherine paid for Blake's funeral with money lent to her by Linnell. He was buried five days after his death – on the eve of his forty-fifth wedding anniversary – at the Dissenter's burial ground in Bunhill Fields, where his parents were also interred. Present at the ceremonies were Catherine, Edward Calvert, George Richmond, Frederick Tatham and John Linnell.

Following Blake's death, Catherine moved into Tatham's house as a housekeeper. During this period, she believed she was regularly visited by Blake's spirit. She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but would entertain no business transaction without first "consulting Mr. Blake".[19] On the day of her own death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him "as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming to him, and it would not be long now".[20]

Upon her death, Blake's manuscripts were inherited by Frederick Tatham, who burned several of those which he deemed heretical or too politically radical. Tatham had become an Irvingite, one of the many fundamentalist movements of the 19th century, and was severely opposed to any work that smacked of blasphemy.[21]Sexual imagery in a number of Blake's drawings was also erased by John Linnell.[22]

Blake is now recognised as a saint in the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. The Blake Prize for Religious Art was established in his honour in Australia in 1949.

In 1957 a memorial was erected in Westminster Abbey, in memory of him and his wife.[23]

Blake may have played a critical role in the modern Western World's conception of imagination. His belief that humanity could overcome the limitations of its five senses is perhaps Blake's greatest legacy: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) While his perspective was once perceived as merely aberrant, it now seems to have been incorporated into the modern definition of the term.

In particular, his reference to "the doors of perception" resonated demonstrably in the literature and music of the 20th century, as both Jim Morrison's band The Doors and Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception pay homage to Blake's sentiment.

Blake and religion
Although Blake's attacks on conventional religion were shocking in his own day, his rejection of religiosity was not a rejection of religion per se. His view of conventional religion is evident in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where he wrote in Proverbs of Hell:

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion and As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.

In The Everlasting Gospel, Blake does not present Jesus as a philosopher or traditional Messiah but as a supremely creative being, above dogma, logic and even morality:

If he had been Antichrist, Creeping Jesus,
He'd have done anything to please us:
Gone sneaking into the Synagogues
And not used the Elders & Priests like Dogs,
But humble as a Lamb or an Ass,
Obey himself to Caiaphas.
God wants not man to humble himself
Jesus, for Blake, symbolises the vital relationship and unity between divinity and humanity: all had originally one language and one religion: this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus.

Blake designed his own mythology, which appears largely in his prophetic books. It was based mainly upon the Bible and on Greek mythology, to accompany his ideas about the everlasting Gospel. Blake commented that he had to create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's.

One of Blake's strongest objections to orthodox Christianity is that he felt it encouraged the suppression of natural desires and discouraged earthly joy. In A Vision of the Last Judgement, Blake says that Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed & govern'd their Passions or have No Passions, but because they have Cultivated their Understandings. The Treasures of Heaven are not Negations of Passion, but Realities of Intellect, from which all the Passions Emanate Uncurbed in their Eternal Glory.

Blake believed that the joy of man glorified God and that the religion of this world is actually the worship of Satan. He thought of Satan as Error and the 'State of Death’. Blake believes that orthodox Christians, partly because of their denial of earthly joy, are actually worshipping Satan.

Blake was against the sophistry of theological thought that excuses pain, admits evil and apologises for injustice. He abhorred attempts to buy bliss in the next world with self-denial in this.

He saw the concept of 'sin' as a trap to bind men’s desires (the briars of Garden of Love), and believed that restraint in obedience to a moral code imposed from the outside was against the spirit of life, writing:

Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs & flaming hair,
But Desire Gratified
Plants fruits & beauty there.
He did not hold with the doctrine of God as Lord, an entity separate from and superior to mankind. This is very much in line with his belief in liberty and equality in society and between the sexes.


Creative mindset
Northrop Frye, commenting on Blake's consistency in strongly held views, notes that Blake "himself says that his notes on [Joshua] Reynolds, written at fifty, are 'exactly Similar' to those on Locke and Bacon, written when he was 'very Young'. Even phrases and lines of verse will reappear as much as forty years later. Consistency in maintaining what he believed to be true was itself one of his leading principles ... Consistency, then, foolish or otherwise, is one of Blake's chief preoccupations, just as 'self-contradiction' is always one of his most contemptuous comments".[24]

Blake's Visions
From a young age, William Blake claimed to have seen visions. The earliest instance occurred at the age of about eight or ten in Peckham Rye, London, when he reported seeing a tree filled with angels "bespangling every bough like stars." According to Blake's Victorian biographer Gilchrist, he returned home to report his vision, but only escaped being thrashed by his father through the intervention of his mother. Though all the evidence suggests that his parents were largely supportive, his mother seems to have been especially so, and several of Blake's early drawings and poems decorated the walls of her chamber.

On another occasion, Blake watched haymakers at work, and thought he saw angelic figures walking among them. In later life, his wife Catherine would recall the time he saw God's head "put to the window". The vision, Catherine reminded her husband, "Set you ascreaming."[25]

Blake claimed to experience visions throughout his life. They were often associated with beautiful religious themes and imagery, and therefore may have inspired him further with spiritual works and pursuits. Certainly, religious concepts and imagery figure centrally in Blake's works. God and Christianity constituted the intellectual center of his writings, from which he drew inspiration. In addition, Blake believed that he was personally instructed and encouraged by Archangels to create his artistic works, which he claimed were actively read and enjoyed by those same Archangels.

In a letter to William Hayley, dated May 6, 1800, Blake writes:

"I know that our deceased friends are more really with us than when they were apparent to our mortal part. Thirteen years ago I lost a brother, and with his spirit I converse daily and hourly in the spirit, and see him in my remembrance, in the region of my imagination. I hear his advice, and even now write from his dictate."

In a letter to John Flaxman, dated September 21, 1800, Blake writes:

"[The town of] Felpham is a sweet place for Study, because it is more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden Gates; her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of Celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard, & their forms more distinctly seen; & my Cottage is also a Shadow of their houses. My Wife & Sister are both well, courting Neptune for an embrace... I am more famed in Heaven for my works than I could well conceive. In my Brain are studies & Chambers filled with books & pictures of old, which I wrote & painted in ages of Eternity before my mortal life; & those works are the delight & Study of Archangels."

In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated April 25, 1803, Blake writes:

"Now I may say to you, what perhaps I should not dare to say to anyone else: That I can alone carry on my visionary studies in London unannoy'd, & that I may converse with my friends in Eternity, See Visions, Dream Dreams & prophecy & speak Parables unobserv'd & at liberty from the Doubts of other Mortals; perhaps Doubts proceeding from Kindness, but Doubts are always pernicious, Especially when we Doubt our Friends."

In A Vision of the Last Judgement Blake writes: "What," it will be Questioned, "When the Sun rises, do you not see a round disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?" Oh no, no, I see an innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty."

William Wordsworth wrote: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."[1], whilst others accept him as mystic and visionary.[26]

Blake in popular culture
Main article: William Blake in popular culture
In addition to his influence on writers and artists, Blake's role as a song-writer and as an exponent of sexual and imaginative freedom have made him a uniquely influential figure in popular culture, especially since the 1960s. Far more than any other canonical writer his songs have been set and adapted by popular musicians including U2, Van Morrison, Jah Wobble, Tangerine Dream, Bruce Dickinson, Kathleen Yearwood and Ulver. Folk musicians have adapted his work, and figures such as Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg have been influenced by him. The genre of the graphic novel traces its origins to Blake's etched songs and Prophetic Books. Children's author Maurice Sendak and exponents such as Grant Morrison, Robert Crumb, and J.M. DeMatteis have all cited Blake as one of their major inspirations.

Illuminated books
c.1788: All Religions Are One
There Is No Natural Religion
1789: Songs of Innocence
The Book of Thel
1790–1793: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
1793: Visions of the Daughters of Albion
America: a Prophecy
1794: Europe: a Prophecy
The First Book of Urizen
Songs of Experience
1795: The Book of Los
The Song of Los
The Book of Ahania
c.1804–c.1811: Milton: a Poem
1804–1820: Jerusalem: The Emanation of The Giant Albion
1783: Poetical Sketches
1789: Tiriel
1791: The French Revolution
1797: The Four Zoas
Illustrated by Blake
1791: Mary Wollstonecraft, Original Stories from Real Life
1797: Edward Young, Night Thoughts
1805-1808: Robert Blair, The Grave
1808: John Milton, Paradise Lost
1819-1820: John Varley, Visionary Heads
1821: R.J. Thornton, Virgil
1823-1826: The Book of Job
1825-1827: Dante, The Divine Comedy (Blake died in 1827 with these watercolours still

Alan Bennett

Life and work

Bennett was born in Armley in Leeds, Yorkshire. The son of a Co-op butcher, Bennett attended Leeds Modern School (a former state grammar school), learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists during his National Service, and gained a place at Cambridge University. However, having spent time in Cambridge during national service, and partly wishing to follow the object of his unrequited love, he decided to apply for a scholarship at Oxford University. He was accepted by Exeter College, Oxford University and went on to receive a first-class degree in history. While at Oxford he performed comedy with a number of future successful actors in the Oxford Revue. He was to remain at Oxford for several years researching and teaching Medieval History before deciding he was not cut out to be an academic.

He claims that as an adolescent he assumed he would grow up to be a Church of England clergyman, for no better reason than that he looked like one.

In August 1960, Bennett, along with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller, and Peter Cook, achieved instant fame by appearing at the Edinburgh Festival in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe. After the Festival, the show continued in London and New York. He also appeared in My Father Knew Lloyd George. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. Many television, stage and radio plays followed, along with screenplays, short stories, novellas, a large body of non-fictional prose and broadcasting, and many appearances as an actor. The recordings of Bennett's highly regarded 1966 television comedy sketch series On the Margin are notorious for having been erased.

Bennett's lugubrious yet expressive voice (which still bears a strong and distinctive Leeds accent) and the sharp humour and evident humanity of his writing have made his readings of his own work (especially his autobiographical writing) very popular. His readings of the Winnie the Pooh stories are also widely enjoyed.

Many of Bennett's characters are unfortunate and downtrodden, or meek and overlooked. Life has brought them to an impasse, or else passed them by altogether. In many cases they have met with disappointment in the realm of sex and intimate relationships, largely through tentativeness and a failure to connect with others.

Bennett is both unsparing and compassionate in laying bare his characters' frailties. This can be seen in his television plays for LWT in the late 1970s and the BBC in the early 1980s, and in the 1987 Talking Heads series of monologues for television which were later performed at the Comedy Theatre in London in 1992. This was a sextet of poignantly comic pieces, each of which depicted several stages in the character's decline from an initial state of denial or ignorance of their predicament, through a slow realization of the hopelessness of their situation, and progressing to a bleak or ambiguous conclusion. A second set of six Talking Heads pieces followed a decade later.

In his 2005 prose collection Untold Stories Bennett has written candidly and movingly of the mental illness that afflicted his mother and other family members. Much of his work draws on his Leeds background and while he is celebrated for his acute observations of a particular type of northern speech ("It'll take more than Dairy Box to banish memories of Pearl Harbor"), the range and daring of his work is often undervalued – his television play The Old Crowd, for example, includes shots of the director and technical crew, while his stage play The Lady in the Van includes two characters named Alan Bennett. The Lady in the Van was based on his experiences with a tramp called Miss Shepherd who lived on Bennett's driveway in a dilapidated van for fifteen years.

In 1994 Bennett adapted his popular and much-praised 1991 play The Madness of George III for the cinema as The Madness of King George. The film received four Academy Award nominations, including nominations for Bennett's writing and the performances of Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren. It won the award for best art direction.

Bennett's critically-acclaimed The History Boys won three Olivier Awards in February 2005, for Best New Play, Best Actor (Richard Griffiths), and Best Direction (Nicholas Hytner), having previously won Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and Evening Standard Awards for Best Actor and Best Play. Bennett himself received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theater.

The History Boys also went on to win six Tony Awards on Broadway, including best play, best performance by a leading actor in a play (Richard Griffiths), best performance by a featured actress in a play (Frances de la Tour), and best direction of a play (Nicholas Hytner).

A film version of The History Boys was released in the UK on 13 October 2006. Bennett discussed the play and its themes in an interview on STV.

Bennett was made an Honorary Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford in 1987. He was also awarded a D.Litt by the University of Leeds in 1990. However in 1998 Bennett refused an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, in protest at its accepting funding for a named chair in honour of press baron Rupert Murdoch.[4] He also declined a CBE in 1988 and a knighthood in 1996.

In September 2005, Bennett revealed that, in 1997, he had undergone treatment for cancer, and described the illness as a "bore". His chances of survival were given as being "much less" than 50%. He began Untold Stories (published 2005) thinking it would be published posthumously. In the event his cancer went into remission. In the autobiographical sketches which form a large part of the book Bennett writes openly for the first time about his homosexuality (Bennett has had relationships with women as well, although this is only touched upon in Untold Stories). Previously Bennett had referred to questions about his sexuality as being like asking a man dying of thirst to choose between Perrier or Malvern mineral water.

Bennett earned Honorary Membership of The Coterie in the 2007 membership list.

Bennett has lived in Camden Town in London for thirty years, and shares his home with Rupert Thomas, his partner for the last fourteen years.

Bibliography and filmography

Television work

My Father Knew Lloyd George (also writer), 1965
Famous Gossips, 1965
Plato—The Drinking Party, 1965
Alice in Wonderland, 1966
On the Margin series (actor & writer), 1966-67
A Day Out (also writer), 1972
Sunset Across the Bay (also writer), 1975
A Little Outing (also writer), 1975
A Visit from Miss Prothero (writer), 1978
Me—I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf (writer), 1978
Doris and Doreen (Green Forms) (writer), 1978
The Old Crowd (writer) with Lindsay Anderson (director), LWT 1979
Afternoon Off (writer), 1979
One Fine Day (writer), 1979
All Day On the Sands (writer), 1979
Objects of Affection (Our Winnie, A Woman of No Importance, Rolling Home, Marks, Say Something Happened, Intensive Care) (also writer), 1982
The Merry Wives of Windsor (actor), 1982
An Englishman Abroad (writer), 1983
The Insurance Man (writer), 1986
Breaking Up, 1986
Man and Music (narrator), 1986
Talking Heads (A Chip in the Sugar, Bed Among the Lentils, A Lady of Letters, Her Big Chance, Soldiering On, A Cream Cracker Under the Settee) (also writer), 1987
Down Cemetery Road: The Landscape of Philip Larkin (presenter), 1987
Fortunes of War series (actor), 1987
Dinner at Noon (narrator), 1988
Poetry in Motion (presenter), 1990
102 Boulevard Haussmann (writer), 1990
A Question of Attribution (writer), 1991
Selling Hitler, 1991
Poetry in Motion 2 (presenter), 1992
Portrait or Bust (presenter), 1994
The Abbey (presenter), 1995
A Dance to the Music of Time (actor), 1997
Talking Heads 2, 1998
Telling Tales (writer, as himself), 2000


Long Shot, 1980
Dreamchild (voice only), 1985
The Secret Policeman's Ball, 1986
The Secret Policeman's Other Ball, 1982
A Private Function (screenplay), 1986
Pleasure At Her Majesty's, 1987
Prick Up Your Ears (screenplay), 1987
Little Dorrit, 1987
Wind in the Willows animated adaptation, 1994
Parson's Pleasure (writer), 1995
The Madness of King George (screenplay from his play "The Madness of George III"), 1995
The History Boys (screenplay, from his play of the same name), 2006


The Great Jowett, 1980
Dragon, 1982
Uncle Clarence (writer, narrator), 1985
Better Halves (narrator), 1988
The Lady in the Van (writer, narrator), 1990
Winnie-the-Pooh (narrator), 1990


Better Late, 1959
Beyond the Fringe (also co-writer), 1960
The Blood of the Bambergs, 1962
A Cuckoo in the Nest, 1964
Forty Years On (also writer), 1968
Sing a Rude Song (co-writer), 1969
Getting On (writer), 1971
Habeas Corpus (also writer), 1973
The Old Country (writer), 1977
Enjoy (writer), 1980
Kafka's Dick (writer), 1986
A Visit from Miss Prothero (writer), 1987
Single Spies (An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution) (also writer and director), 1988
The Wind in the Willows (adaptation), 1990
The Madness of George III (writer), 1991
Talking Heads (Waiting for the telegram, A Chip in the Sugar, Bed Among the Lentils, A Lady of Letters, Her Big Chance, Soldiering On, A Cream Cracker Under the Settee) (also writer), 1992
The History Boys (writer), 2004; Winner of Tony Award for Best Play, 2006.


Beyond the Fringe (with Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore). London: Souvenir Press, 1962, and New York: Random House, 1963
Forty Years On. London: Faber, 1969
Getting On. London: Faber, 1972
Habeas Corpus. London: Faber, 1973
The Old Country. London: Faber, 1978
Enjoy. London: Faber, 1980
Office Suite. London: Faber, 1981
Objects of Affection. London: BBC Publications, 1982
A Private Function. London: Faber, 1984
Forty Years On; Getting On; Habeas Corpus. London: Faber, 1985
The Writer in Disguise. London: Faber, 1985
Prick Up Your Ears. London: Faber, 1987
Two Kafka Plays. London: Faber, 1987
Talking Heads. London: BBC Publications, 1988; New York: Summit, 1990
Single Spies. London: Faber, 1989
Winner of Olivier Award: England's best comedy for 1989
Single Spies and Talking Heads. New York: Summit, 1990
The Lady in the Van, 1989
Poetry in Motion (with others). 1990
The Wind in the Willows. London: Faber, 1991
Forty Years On and Other Plays. London: Faber, 1991
The Madness of George III. London: Faber, 1992
Poetry in Motion 2 (with others). 1992
Writing Home (memoir & essays). London: Faber, 1994 (winner of the 1995 British Book of the Year award).
The Madness of King George (screenplay), 1995
Father ! Father ! Burning Bright (prose version of 1982 TV script, Intensive Care), 1999
The Laying on of Hands (novella), 2000
The Clothes They Stood Up In (novella), 2001
Untold Stories (autobiographical and essays), London, Faber/Profile Books, 2005, ISBN 0-571-22830-5
The Uncommon Reader (novella), 2007


Soins intensifs, 2006
Der Rote Baron, Sein letzter Flug, 2001
Vater, Vater, lichterloh, 2002
Così fan tutte, (previously published as Alle Jahre wieder) 2003
Die Lady im Lieferwagen, 2004
Handauflegen, 2005
La pazzia di re Giorgio, 1996
Nudi e crudi, 2001
La cerimonia del massaggio, 2002
La signora nel furgone, 2003
Signore e signori, 2004
Scritto sul corpo, 2006
Il Letto di Lenticchie, ????

Hilaire Belloc

Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud France (next to Versailles and near Paris) to a French father and English mother, and grew up in England.

His mother Elizabeth Rayner Parkes (1829-1925) was also a writer, and a great-grand-daughter of the English chemist Joseph Priestley. She married attorney Louis Belloc in 1867. In 1872, five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her son Hilaire, along with his sister, Marie, back to England where he remained, except for his voluntary enlistment as a young man in the French artillery.

After being educated at John Henry Cardinal Newman's Oratory School Belloc served his term of military service, as a French citizen, with an artillery regiment near Toul in 1891. He was powerfully built, with great stamina, and walked extensively in Britain and Europe. While courting his future wife Elodie, whom he first met in 1890, the impecunious Belloc walked a good part of the way from the midwest of the United States to her home in northern California, paying for lodging at remote farm houses and ranches by sketching the owners and reciting poetry.

When later he could afford it he was a well known yachtsman as well as writer. He won many races and was in the French sailing team[citation needed].

An 1895 graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, Belloc was a noted figure within the University, being President of the Oxford Union, the undergraduate debating society. He went into politics after he became a naturalised British citizen. A great disappointment in his life was his failure to gain a fellowship at All Souls College in Oxford. This failure may have been caused in part by his producing a small statue of the Virgin and placing it before him on the table during the interview for the fellowship.

From 1906 to 1910 he was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Salford South, but swiftly became disillusioned with party politics. During one campaign speech he was asked by a heckler if he was a "papist." Retrieving his rosary from his pocket he responded, "Sir, so far as possible I hear Mass each day and I go to my knees and tell these beads each night. If that offends you, then I pray God may spare me the indignity of representing you in Parliament." The crowd cheered and Belloc won the election.

Professional writer
Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry and many topics current in his day. He was closely associated with G. K. Chesterton; George Bernard Shaw coined the term Chesterbelloc for their partnership.

His only period of steady employment was from 1914 to 1920 as editor of Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the war. Otherwise he lived by his pen, and often felt short of money. He was brilliant, but a poor listener. His larger-than-life personality, and strongly held views, were more acceptable to some in small doses. His setbacks in the academic and political worlds lent asperity to his writing.

He was the brother of the novelist Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes.
Belloc and his wife Elodie had five children before her 1911 death from influenza, in their 17th year of marriage. He became estranged from Peter, one of his sons, who was subsequently killed in action in World War I. He suffered a stroke in 1941, and never recovered from its effects. He lived quietly at home until his death in 1953.[1] At his funeral Mass, homilist Monsignor Ronald Knox observed, "No man of his time fought so hard for the good things."

Old Thunder
His style during later life complemented the nickname he received in childhood, Old Thunder. Belloc's friend, Lord Sheffield, described his provocative personality in a preface to The Cruise of the Nona. [2]

In Belloc's novel of travel, The Four Men, the title characters supposedly represent different facets of the author's personality. One of the four improvises a playful song at Christmastime, which includes the verse:

'May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noel! Noel!'
It should be noted that the other characters regard the verse as fairly gauche and ill-conceived, so while part of Belloc may have agreed with this somewhat offensive song, it is not necessarily representative of Belloc's personality as a whole.

In controversy and debate
Belloc first came to public attention shortly after arriving at Balliol College, Oxford as a recent French army veteran. Attending his first debate of the Oxford Union Debating Society, he saw that the affirmative position was wretchedly and half-heartedly defended. As the debate drew to its conclusion and the division of the house was called, he rose from his seat in the audience, and delivered a vigorous, impromptu defense of the proposition. Belloc won that debate from the audience, as the division of the house then showed, and his reputation as a debater was established. He was later elected president of the Union. He held his own in debates there with F. E. Smith and John Buchan, the latter a friend.

He was at his most effective in the 1920s, on the attack against H. G. Wells's Outline of History, in which he criticized Wells' secular bias and his belief in evolution by means of natural selection, a theory that Belloc asserted had been completely discredited. Wells remarked that "Debating Mr. Belloc is like arguing with a hailstorm". Belloc's review of Outline of History famously observed that Wells' book was a powerful and well-written volume, "up until the appearance of Man, that is, somewhere around page seven." Wells responded with a small book, Mr. Belloc Objects, one of the most amusing rebuttals in literary history. Not to be outdone, Belloc followed with, "Mr. Belloc Still Objects."

G. G. Coulton, a keen and persistent academic opponent, wrote on Mr. Belloc on Medieval History in a 1920 article. After a long simmering feud, Belloc replied with a booklet, The Case of Dr. Coulton, in 1938.

Belloc was one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters along with H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G.K. Chesterton, men who engaged in controversy and debate with one another for a generation or more.

For Belloc, the great question to be answered by every thinking man or woman is precisely, "What do you make of the Faith?" The answers that he and others gave to this question explain the battles he fought.

Asked once why he wrote so much[6], he responded, "Because my children are howling for pearls and caviar." Belloc observed that "The first job of letters is to get a canon", that is, to identify those works which a writer looks upon as exemplary of the best of prose and verse. For his own prose style, he claimed to aspire to be as clear and concise as "Mary had a little lamb."

Essays and travel writing
His best travel writing has secured a permanent following. The Path to Rome (1902), an account of a walking pilgrimage he made from central France across the Alps and down to Rome, has remained continuously in print. More than a mere travelogue, "The Path to Rome" contains descriptions of the people and places he encountered, his drawings in pencil and in ink of the route, humor, poesy, and the reflections of a large mind turned to the events of his time as he marches along his solitary way. At every turn, Belloc shows himself to be profoundly in love with Europe and with the Faith that he claims has produced it.

As an essayist he was one of a small, admired and dominant group (with Chesterton, E. V. Lucas and Robert Lynd) of popular writers. In the large he sometimes came across as too opinionated, and too dedicated a Catholic controversialist.

There is a passage in The Cruise of the Nona where Belloc, sitting alone at the helm of his boat under the stars, shows profoundly his mind in the matter of Catholicism and mankind; he writes of "That golden Light cast over the earth by the beating of the Wings of the Faith."

His "cautionary tales", humorous poems with an implausible moral, beautifully illustrated by Lord Basil Blackwood and later by Edward Gorey, are the most widely known of his writings. Supposedly for children, they, like Lewis Carroll's works, are more to adult and satirical tastes: Henry King, Who chewed bits of string and was early cut off in dreadful agonies. A similar poem tells the story of Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably.

The tale of Matilda (who told lies and was burnt to death) was adapted into the play "Matilda Liar!" by Debbie Isitt. Quentin Blake, the illustrator, described Belloc as at one and the same time the overbearing adult and mischievous child. Roald Dahl is a follower. But Belloc has broader if sourer scope:

It happened to Lord Lundy then
as happens to so many men
about the age of 26
they shoved him into politics...
leading up to

we had intended you to be
the next Prime Minister but three...

History, politics, economics
Three of his best known non-fiction works are The Servile State (1912),Europe and Faith (1920) and The Jews (1922).

From an early age Belloc knew Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, who was responsible for the conversion of his mother to Roman Catholicism. Manning's involvement in the 1889 London Dock Strike made a major impression on Belloc and his view of politics, according to biographer Robert Speaight. Belloc described this retrospectively in The Cruise of the Nona (1925); he became a trenchant critic both of unbridled capitalism, and of many aspects of socialism.

With others (G. K. Chesterton, Cecil Chesterton, Arthur Penty) Belloc had envisioned the socioeconomic system of distributism. In The Servile State, written after his party-political career had come to end, and other works, he criticized the modern economic order and parliamentary system, advocating distributism in opposition to both capitalism and socialism. Belloc made the historical argument that distributism was not a fresh perspective or program of economics but rather a proposed return to the economics that prevailed in Europe for the thousand years when it was Catholic. He called for the dissolution of Parliament and its replacement with committees of representatives for the various sectors of society, an idea popular among Fascists under the name of corporatism.

With these linked themes in the background, he wrote a long series of contentious biographies of historical figures, including Oliver Cromwell, James II, and Napoleon. They show him as an ardent proponent of orthodox Catholicism and a critic of many elements of the modern world.

Outside academe, Belloc was impatient with what he considered to be axe-grinding histories, especially what he called "official history." Joseph Pearce notes also Belloc's attack on the secularism of H.G. Wells's popular Outline of History:

Belloc objected to his adversary's tacitly anti-Christian stance, epitomized by the fact that Wells had devoted more space in his "history" to the Persian campaign against the Greeks than he had given to the figure of Christ.

He wrote also substantial amounts of military history. In alternative history, he contributed to the 1931 collection If It Had Happened Otherwise edited by Sir John Squire.

Ignatius Press of California and IHS Press of Virginia have been reissuing Belloc. TAN Books of Illinois publish a number of Belloc's works, particularly his historical writings.

One of Belloc's most famous statements was "the faith is Europe and Europe is the faith"; this sums up his strongly-held, orthodox Roman Catholic views, and the cultural conclusions he drew from them. Those views were expressed at length in many of his works from the period 1920-1940. These are still cited as exemplary of Catholic apologetics. They have also been criticised, for instance by comparison with the work of Christopher Dawson during the same period.

As a young man, Belloc lost his faith. Then came a spiritual event which he never discussed publicly, and which returned him to and confirmed him in his Catholicism for the remainder of his life. Belloc alludes to this return to the faith in a passage in The Cruise of the Nona.

On Islam
Belloc's 1937 book The Crusades: the World's Debate made no pretence at being impartial. Despite being concerned with events more than eight centuries old, it took sides very vehemently, from the first page on. In his view, had the Crusaders captured Damascus, the Islamic World would have been cut in two and "bled to death of the wound" - which as Belloc explicitly stated, would have been a highly desirable and positive outcome.

Since the Crusaders missed that chance, Islam survived and eventually overwhelmed the Crusader bridgehead in the Middle East. For Belloc this was not a matter of old history: Islam continued to pose a dangerous present and future threat.

At the time of his writing, the Islamic world was still largely under the rule of the European colonial powers and the threat to Britain was from Fascism and Nazism. Belloc, however, considered that Islam was permanently intent on destroying the Church, as well as the West, which Christendom had built. In The Great Heresies (1938) Belloc grouped the Protestant Reformation together with Islam as one of the major heresies threatening the "Church Universal."

Belloc in that book cited the many beliefs and theological principles which Islam shares with Catholicism and exactly which, in Belloc's view, identify it as a heresy. Where (in his view) Islam decisively diverges from Catholicism (and Christianity in general) is the "denial of the Incarnation and all the sacramental life of the Church that followed from it" - with Islam regarding Jesus as a human being, though honouring him as a Prophet.

Accusations of anti-Semitism
For fuller discussion, see section in G. K.'s Weekly
In The Cruise of the Nona, Belloc reflected equivocally on the Dreyfus Affair after thirty years. Belloc has been charged with anti-Semitism, and the issue of his attitude to Jews is still raised. For example, Norman Rose's book The Cliveden Set (2000) poses the question of whether Nancy Astor , a friend of Belloc's in the 1930s until they broke over religious matters, was influenced by him against Jews in general. He was repeatedly critical, from his days in politics onwards, of the influence some Jewish people had on society and the world of finance.

There are a number of grounds on which Belloc has been deemed by some to be anti-Semitic and not concerned to conceal his views.

On the other hand, Canadian broadcaster Michael Coren wrote:

Belloc's polemics did periodically drift into the realms of bigotry, but he was invariably a tenacious opponent of philosophical anti-Semitism, ostracized friends who made attacks upon individual Jews, and was an inexorable enemy of fascism and all its works, speaking out against German anti-Semitism before the National Socialists came to power.
Robert Speaight cited a letter by Belloc in which he pilloried Nesta Webster because of her accusations against "the Jews". In February 1924, Belloc wrote to an American Jewish friend regarding an allegedly anti-Semitic book by Webster. Webster had rejected Christianity, studied Eastern religions, accepted the Hindu concept of the equality of all religions and was fascinated by theories of reincarnation and ancestral memory. Belloc expressed his views very clearly:

"In my opinion it is a lunatic book. She is one of those people who have got one cause on the brain. It is the good old 'Jewish revolutionary' bogey. But there is a type of unstable mind which cannot rest without morbid imaginings, and the conception of a single cause simplifies thought. With this good woman it is the Jews, with some people it is the Jesuits, with others Freemasons and so on. The world is more complex than that."
Speaight also points out that when faced with anti-Semitism in practice — as at elitist country clubs in America before World War II — he voiced his disapproval. Belloc condemned Nazi anti-Semitism in The Catholic and the War (1940). Dennis Barton has defended Belloc at length. He notes that Belloc condemned wild accusations against the Jews, in his own book, The Jews.

 In the media
Stephen Fry has recorded an audio collection of Belloc's children's poetry.
A notable admirer of Belloc was the composer Peter Warlock, who set many of his poems to music.
A well-known parody of Belloc by Sir John Squire, intended as a tribute, is Mr. Belloc's Fancy.
Syd Barrett, a founder of Pink Floyd, was a fan. His song Matilda Mother was drawn directly from verses in Cautionary Tales, and was rewritten when Belloc's estate refused permission to record them. The Belloc version has been released on a 40th anniversary reissue of Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Hilaire Belloc's name featured in a 1970s television sketch by The Two Ronnies: Ronnie Barker read the "Nows" from a script written on a typewriter that printed "o" instead of "e".
His name was also mentioned in the 2nd episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, during the "Mice and Men" sketch. After leading viewers through a series of historical figures--Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte among them--suspected of being mice in private life, announcer Michael Palin concludes, "And, of course, Hilaire Belloc."
Referenced in a sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie wherein Stephen Fry, playing an obsequious and oddly loquacious shop clerk, tells a character played by Hugh Laurie, "But sir didn't come into this shop to trade insults with me on the state of the morning unless I'm more mistaken than a man who thinks Hilaire Belloc is still alive."

Max Beerbohm

He was born in London, England, the younger half-brother of actor and producer Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Merton College, Oxford, where he was Secretary of the Myrmidon Club. At Oxford he became part of the Oscar Wilde set, although George Bernard Shaw declared that Beerbohm was incomparable to anyone else. At this early age, he was also in much demand as a guest at the great dinner parties of Mayfair, where he was considered by many to be the greatest wit in town, and spent much of his time burning up the Oxford-London railway. His early brilliance faded all too soon, and by thirty-five he was viewed as a prematurely dull, heavy, middle-aged man.

It was at school that he began writing. His "Defence of Cosmetics" appeared in the first edition of the The Yellow Book, Aubrey Beardsley being art editor at the time. Beerbohm toured the United States while a young man as a press agent for his brother's theatrical company.

His first book, The Works of Max Beerbohm, was published in 1896. Having been interviewed by George Bernard Shaw himself, in 1898 he followed Shaw as drama critic for the Saturday Review,[1] on whose staff he remained until 1910. From 1935 onwards, he was an occasional if popular radio broadcaster, talking on cars and carriages and music halls for the BBC. His wit is shown often enough in his caricatures but his letters contain a carefully blended humour—a gentle admonishing of the excesses of the day—whilst remaining firmly tongue in cheek. His lifelong friend Reginald Turner, who was also an aesthete and a somewhat witty companion, saved many of Max's letters.

Beerbohm's best known works are A Christmas Garland (1912), a parody of literary styles, and Seven Men (1919), which includes "Enoch Soames", the tale of a poet who makes a deal with the Devil to find out how posterity will remember him, is also well known. In 1911 he wrote Zuleika Dobson, his only novel. Other works include The Happy Hypocrite (1897).

Beerbohm married the actress Florence Kahn in 1910. He was knighted in 1939. He died in Rapallo, Italy aged 83, shortly after marrying his former secretary, Elisabeth Jungmann. His ashes were interred in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, London.

[edit] Books of Max Beerbohm's works

Two of Beerbohm's self-portraits. "The Theft" depicts him stealing a book from the library in 1894. "The Restitution" shows him returning that book in 1920.
[edit] Written works
The Works of Max Beerbohm, with a Bibliography by John Lane (1896)
More (1899)
Yet Again (1909)
Zuleika Dobson; or, An Oxford Love Story (1911)
A Christmas Garland, Woven by Max Beerbohm (1912)
Seven Men (1919)
Herbert Beerbohm Tree: Some Memories of Him and of His Art (1920, ed. by Max Beerbohm)
And Even Now (1920)
A Peep into the Past (1923)
Around Theatres (1924)
A Variety of Things (1928)
The Dreadful Dragon of Hay Hill (1928)
Lytton Strachey (1943) Rede Lecture
Mainly on the Air (1946; enlarged edition 1957)
The Incomparable Max: A Collection of Writings of Sir Max Beerbohm" (1962)
Max in Verse: Rhymes and Parodies (1963, ed. by J. G. Riewald)
Letters to Reggie Turner (1964, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
More Theatres, 1898–1903 (1969, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
Max and Will: Max Beerbohm and William Rothenstein: Their Friendship and Letters (1975, ed. by Mary M. Lago and Karl Beckson)
Letters of Max Beerbohm: 1892–1956 (1988, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
Last Theatres (1970, ed. by Rupert Hart-Davis)
A Peep into the Past and Other Prose Pieces (1972)
Max Beerbohm and "The Mirror of the Past" (1982, ed. Lawrence Danson)

[edit] Collections of caricatures
Caricatures of Twenty-Five Gentlemen (1896)
The Poets' Corner (1904)
A Book of Caricatures (1907)
Cartoons: The Second Childhood of John Bull (1911)
Fifty Caricatures (1913)
A Survey (1921)
Rossetti and His Circle (1922)
Things New and Old (1923)
Observations (1925)
Heroes and Heroines of Bitter Sweet (1931) five drawings in a portfolio
Max's Nineties: Drawings 1892–1899 (1958, ed. Rupert Hart-Davies and Allan Wade)
Beerbohm's Literary Caricatures: From Homer to Huxley (1977, ed. J. G. Riewald)
Max Beerbohm Caricatures (1997, ed. N. John Hall)
Enoch Soames: A Critical Heritage (1997)

[edit] Secondary literature
Behrman, S. N., Portrait of Max. (1960)
Cecil, David. Max: A Biography of Max Beerbohm. (1964, reprint 1985)
Danson, Lawrence. Max Beerbohm and the Act of Writing. (1989)
Felstiner, John. The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm's Parody and Caricature. (1972)
Gallatin, A. H. Bibliography of the Works of Max Beerbohm. (1952)
Gallatin, A. H. Max Beerbohm: Bibliographical Notes. (1944)
Grushow, Ira. The Imaginary Reminiscences of Max Beerbohm. (1984)
Hall, N. John. Max Beerbohm: A Kind of a Life. (2002)
Hart-Davis, Rupert. A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm. (1972)
Lynch, Bohun. Max Beerbohm in Perspective. (1922)
McElderderry, Bruce J. Max Beerbohm. (1971)
Riewald, J. G. Sir Max Beerbohm, Man and Writer: A Critical Analysis with a Brief Life and Bibliography. (1953)
Riewald, J. G. The Surprise of Excellence: Modern Essays of Max Beerbohm. (1974)
Riewald, J. G. Remembering Max Beerbohm: Correspondence Conversations Criticisms. (1991)
Viscusi, Robert. Max Beerbohm, or the Dandy Dante: Rereading with Mirrors. (1986

Pam Ayres

Pam Ayres MBE (born 14 March 1947) is a British writer of humorous poetry.

Pam Ayres was born at Stanford in the Vale in the English county of Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). After leaving Farringdon Secondary School at the age of 15, she joined the Civil Service as a clerical assistant. She soon left there to sign up to the Women's Royal Air Force, and it was there that she decided she wanted to be an entertainer. She began reading her verses at the local folk club in Oxfordshire, and this led to an invitation to read on the local BBC radio station in 1974. Her reading was re-broadcast nationally, and then broadcast again as one of the BBC's Pick of the Year.

In 1975 Ayres appeared on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks. This led to a wide variety of guest appearances on TV and radio shows. Since then she has published six books of poems, toured in a one woman stage show, briefly hosted her own TV show and performed her stage show for the Queen. In September 2006, a BBC website stated that Bob Dylan inspired Pam Ayres to write poetry, although in an interview (aired on Radio New Zealand's Nine To Noon programme, 24 October 2006) Pam stated that the Lonnie Donegan records her brother played were her inspiration.

Her poetry has a simple style and deals with everyday subject matter. Her poem I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth, was voted into the Top 10 of a BBC poll to find the Nation's 100 Favourite Comic Poems. In the UK Arts Council's report on poetry Ayres was identified as the fifth best-selling poet in Britain during 1998 and 1999. However in 2000 her TV show was ranked at number 64 in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Moments from TV Hell.

Ayres is married to theatre producer Dudley Russell, and they have two sons, William and James. They live in the Cotswolds, and keep some rare breeds of cattle, as well as some sheep, pigs, chickens, and guinea fowl. Pam is a keen gardener and beekeeper.

Cover of Pam Ayres' latest book, Surgically Enhanced (September 2006).In June 2004 she was awarded the MBE for services to literature and entertainment.

Pam continues to actively perform her work, the humorous quality of which is enhanced by her idiosyncratic delivery. Starting in September 2006 to coincide with the release of her latest book and audio CD, Ayres gave dozens of performances in various locations in the United Kingdom and Australia, with additional dates scheduled for the UK and New Zealand in 2007.

From 1996, Ayres has appeared regularly on BBC Radio. From 1996 until 1999 Pam presented a two-hour music and chat show every Sunday afternoon on BBC Radio 2; this was followed by two series of Pam Ayres’ Open Road, in which Pam visited various parts of the United Kingdom, interviewing people with interesting stories to tell about their lives and local areas. More recently Pam has become a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, appearing in programmes such as Just a Minute, Say The Word, That Reminds Me, and two series of her own show, Ayres On The Air, a radio show of her poetry and sketches.

In mid-2007, Ayres is scheduled to start work on a new radio sitcom for BBC Radio 4, in which she will co-star with actor Geoffrey Whitehead. Following this (as yet untitled) sitcom, Pam will start writing and recording the third series of her BBC Radio 4 programme Ayres On The Air, which is due on air in the United Kingdom in early 2008.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Her social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made Austen one of the most influential and honoured novelists in English literature. Her novels were all written and set around Regency Era. She never married and died at age 41.


[edit] Family and Education

Jane Austen's family coat of arms.Jane Austen was born December 16th, 1775 at a Church of England (Anglican) rectory in Steventon, Hampshire, one of two daughters of the Reverend George Austen (1731 – 1805) and his wife Cassandra (née Leigh) (1739 – 1827). Two of her brothers, James and Henry, followed in their father's path and joined the Anglican clergy (the latter towards the end of his life after a successful career as a banker), while two other brothers Francis and Charles both pursued naval careers. A fifth brother, George, had a disability, and did not live with the family. Austen’s sister was named Cassandra, like their mother, and Austen tended to follow this naming practice in her novels.

The abundant correspondence between the sisters provides historians with the greatest insight into her thoughts. However, Cassandra destroyed many of the letters after Austen’s death. Cassandra drew the only undisputed life portrait of Austen, a somewhat rudimentary coloured sketch that currently resides in the National Portrait Gallery, London. In 1783, Austen was educated briefly by a relative in Oxford, then in Southampton; finally, from 1785–1786, she attended the Reading Ladies boarding school in the Abbey gatehouse in Reading, Berkshire.

[edit] Writing
Austen began writing her first novel in 1789. Her family life was conducive to writing; the Austen family often enacted plays, which gave her an opportunity to present her stories. They also borrowed novels from the local library, which influenced her writing. She was encouraged to write, especially by her brother, Henry, who wrote a little himself. The theme of Austen's stories centered upon the limited provincial world in which she lived for the first twenty-six years of her life. Jane loved to write her novels in peace and she only shared them with her family when they were performing plays. It was not until 1811, six years before her death, that a novel she had written, Sense and Sensibility, was published, and it was at the expense of her brother, Henry, and his wife, Eliza.

[edit] Romances
Although she never married, Austen experienced at least two potential romances in her short life. In 1796, Austen had a flirtation with Tom Lefroy, later Lord High Justice of Ireland, who was the younger relative of a friend. She wrote two letters to Cassandra mentioning him. In a letter dated 9 January 1796, she wrote:

"After I had written the above, we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well-behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove—it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded".
On 16 January 1796, there is another mention:

"Friday. -- At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea".[1]
It does not seem to have been a serious relationship and the love affair did not last long. However, it has been suggested that Austen might have had him in mind when she created the character Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

In 1802, Austen received a marriage proposal from a wealthy, but "big and awkward" man named Harris Bigg-Wither, the younger brother of her friends Catherine and Alethea Bigg, and six years her junior.[2] The marriage would have freed her from some of the constraints and dependency she experienced as a spinster. She initially accepted his offer, only to change her mind and refuse him the following day.

[edit] Later Life and Death

The Jane Austen Centre, BathIn 1801, following her father's retirement, the family moved to the fashionable spa city of Bath, which provided the setting for many of her novels.[3] However, Austen, like her character Anne Elliot, seemed to have "persisted in a disinclination for Bath." Her dislike may have been influenced by the family's precarious financial situation and from being uprooted from her settled existence in the country.

"Chawton Cottage" where Jane Austen lived during the last eight years of her life (today a museum).Austen’s father died in 1805, and she, Cassandra, and their mother moved to Southampton. They lived there with Austen’s brother, Frank, and his family for several years, before moving to Chawton in 1809. In Chawton Austen’s wealthy brother Edward had an estate with a cottage, where the three women lived. Austen wrote her later novels there, and the cottage is now a museum.

In 1816, Austen began to suffer from ill health. In May 1817, she moved to Winchester to be closer to her doctor. Her condition worsened, and on 18 July 1817, she died at the age of forty-one and was buried in Winchester Cathedral. When asked by Cassandra if there were anything she wanted, Austen responded with her last words: “Nothing, but death”.

It is now thought by some that Austen may have suffered from Addison's disease, a failure of the adrenal glands that was common in the 19th century because it is a frequent complication of tuberculosis. The disease was at that time unnamed. Others, such as biographer Carol Shields, have hypothesized that she died from breast cancer.

[edit] Works
England's first truly important female novelist, Jane Austen had difficulty in establishing a reputation for herself, despite the fact that she counted the Prince Regent among her admirers of the time. A novelist of manners, her work dealt with a limited social circle in society—that of the provincial gentry and the upper classes. As she stated in a letter to her niece, Anna: 'Three of four families in a country village are the very thing to work on.' She explored their relationships, values and shortcomings with detachment and irony, and her restrained satire of social excesses of the period was perhaps nearer to the classically minded moralizing of the eighteenth century than to the new age of Romantic rebellion and potential sentimentalism.[4]

Austen's best-known work is Pride and Prejudice, which is viewed as an exemplar of her socially astute novel of manners. Pride and Prejudice went into three printings during her lifetime. Austen also wrote a satire of the popular Gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe, Northanger Abbey, which was published posthumously in 1818. Adhering to a common contemporary practice for female authors, Austen published her novels anonymously; this kept her out of leading literary circles.

Austen's novels of manners, especially Emma, are often cited for their perfection of form. Modern critics continue to unearth new perspectives on Austen's keen commentary regarding the predicament of unmarried genteel English women in the late 1790s and early 1800s, a consequence of inheritance law and custom, which usually directed the bulk of a family's fortune to eldest male heirs.

Although Austen's career coincided with the Romantic movement in literature, she was not an intensely passionate Romantic and the social turbulence of early nineteenth-century England was barely touched upon in novels which concentrated on the everyday life and ostensibly trivial aspects of genteel society—balls, trips, dances, and an unending procession of marriage proposals. Thus, it could be argued she was more neo-classical in outlook. Passionate emotion usually carries danger in an Austen novel: the young woman who exercises twice a day is more likely to find real happiness than one who irrationally elopes with a capricious lover. Austen's artistic values had more in common with David Hume and John Locke than with her contemporaries William Wordsworth and Lord Byron.

Within her limited field, however, she did create a memorable range of characters whose dealings with love, marriage, courtship and social or personal rivalries were treated with a remarkable degree of objectivity and psychological depth. Although Austen did not promote passionate emotion as did other Romantic movement writers, she was also sceptical of its opposite—excessive calculation and practicality often leads to disaster in Austen novels (for example, Maria Bertram's marriage of convenience to the wealthy but dull Mr. Rushworth has an unhappy conclusion). Her close analysis of character displayed both a warm sense of humour and a hardy realism: vanity, selfishness and a lack of self-knowledge are among the faults most severely judged in her novels (e.g. in the case of Wickham and the flighty Lydia in Pride and Prejudice).

[edit] Literary Influences
Among Austen's influences were Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, Walter Scott, Samuel Johnson, William Cowper, George Crabbe and Fanny Burney.

Austen owed much in particular to both Richardson and Fielding with regard to her concept of the novel. Her first work, Elinor and Marianne, (later modified and published as Sense and Sensibility) was epistolary in technique. Her choice of a third-person omniscient narrator showed the influence of Fielding but, unlike the latter, she did not allow the narrator to intrude so much during the course of the story. Indeed, direct comments on the part of the narrator are rare, Austen preferring to let subtle nuance and dialogue illuminate her attitude to the characters and unfolding events. Verbal and situational irony are frequently combined with superbly structured dialogues to reinforce judgments which would otherwise have to be made explicitly. Criticized for being repetitive, her plots are nonetheless well structured, and reveal a sincere love of perfection and minutiae of detail that she believed was one of the prerogatives of any potential writer.[5]

[edit] Criticism

In 1816, the editors of the New Monthly Magazine did not see Emma as an important novel.Austen's novels received only moderate renown when they were published, with some seeing her novels "as overtly moral,"[6] although Sir Walter Scott in particular praised her work: "That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with."[7] In Austen's final novel, Persuasion, several characters read a work by Scott and praise it, but Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility had already counted Scott as one of her favorites.

Austen also earned the admiration of Macaulay (who thought that in the world there were no compositions which approached nearer to perfection), Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Sydney Smith, Edward FitzGerald, and the Prince Regent, who told his librarian to give her a guided tour of his London residence Carlton House's library. He also gave "permission" (effectively a command) for Emma to be dedicated to him. Twentieth century scholars rank her among the greatest literary geniuses of the English language, sometimes even comparing her to Shakespeare. Lionel Trilling and Edward Said have both written treatises on Austen's works. Said referred extensively to Mansfield Park in his 1993 work, Culture and Imperialism, and Trilling wrote in an essay on Mansfield Park:

"It was Jane Austen who first represented the specifically modern personality and the culture in which it had its being. Never before had the moral life been shown as she shows it to be, never before had it been conceived to be so complex and difficult and exhausting. Hegel speaks of the "secularization of spirituality" as a prime characteristic of the modern epoch, and Jane Austen is the first to tell us what this involves. She is the first novelist to represent society, the general culture, as playing a part in the moral life, generating the concepts of "sincerity" and "vulgarity" which no earlier time would have understood the meaning of, and which for us are so subtle that they defy definition, and so powerful that none can escape their sovereignty. She is the first to be aware of the Terror which rules our moral situation, the ubiquitous anonymous judgment to which we respond, the necessity we feel to demonstrate the purity of our secular spirituality, whose dark and dubious places are more numerous and obscure than those of religious spirituality, to put our lives and styles to the question ..."
Trilling's essay has attracted much subsequent literary discussion as well.[8][9][10]

Negative views of Austen have been notable, with severe detractors frequently accusing her writing of being unliterary and middle-brow. Charlotte Brontë criticized the narrow scope of Austen's fiction:

"Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as 'outré' or extravagant. She does her business of delineating the surface of the lives of genteel English people curiously well. There is a Chinese fidelity, a miniature delicacy, in the painting. She ruffles her reader by nothing vehement, disturbs him with nothing profound. The passions are perfectly unknown to her: she rejects even a speaking acquaintance with that stormy sisterhood… What sees keenly, speaks aptly, moves flexibly, it suits her to study: but what throbs fast and full, though hidden, what the blood rushes through, what is the unseen seat of life and the sentient target of death—this Miss Austen ignores… Jane Austen was a complete and most sensible lady, but a very incomplete and rather insensible (not senseless) woman, if this is heresy—I cannot help it."
Mark Twain's reaction was also negative:

"Jane Austen? Why, I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book."
"When I take up one of Jane Austen's books,... such as Pride and Prejudice, I feel like a barkeeper entering the kingdom of heaven. I know what his sensation would be and his private comments. He would not find the place to his taste, and he would probably say so."
Rudyard Kipling felt differently, going so far as to write the short story "The Janeites" about a group of soldiers who were also Austen fans, as well as two poems praising "England's Jane" and providing her with posthumous true love.

Austen's literary strength lies in the delineation of character, especially of women, by delicate touches arising out of the most natural and everyday incidents in the life of the middle and upper classes, from which her subjects are generally taken. Her characters, though of quite ordinary types, are drawn with such firmness and precision and with such significant detail as to keep their individuality intact through their entire development, and they are uncoloured by her own personality. Her view of life seems largely genial, with a strong dash of gentle but keen irony.

Some contemporary readers may find the world she describes, in which people's chief concern is securing advantageous marriages, unliberated and disquieting. During her time, options were limited, and both women and men often married for financial considerations. Female writers worked within the similarly narrow genre of romance. Part of Austen's reputation rests on how well she integrates observations on the human condition within a convincing love story. Much of the tension in her novels arises from balancing financial necessity against other concerns: love, friendship, honor and self-respect. It is also important to point out that, at the time, romance novels were seen as a clever modern variation on the knightly romances of medieval times; these were damsels engaged in adventure, seeking their fortunes and carrying out quests.

There are two museums dedicated to Jane Austen. The Jane Austen Centre in Bath is a public museum located in a Georgian House in Gay Street, just a few doors down the street from number 25 where Austen stayed in 1805. The Jane Austen's House Museum is located in Chawton cottage, in Hampshire, where Austen lived from 1809 to 1817.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Novels
In order of first publication:

Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Emma (1816)
Persuasion (1818) (posthumous)
Northanger Abbey (1818) (posthumous)

[edit] Shorter works
Lady Susan (novella)
The Watsons (incomplete novel; Austen's niece, Catherine Hubback, completed The Watsons and published it under the title The Younger Sister in the mid-nineteenth century.)
Sanditon (final novel fragment)

[edit] Juvenilia
This article or section is incomplete and may require expansion and/or cleanup.
Please improve the article, or discuss the issue on the talk page.

The Three Sisters
Love and Freindship (the misspelling of "friendship" in the title is famous)
The History of England
Catharine, or the Bower
The Beautifull Cassandra
Jack and Alice
Frederic and Elfrida
A Collection of Letters

[edit] Filmography
In popular culture, Austen's novels have been adapted in a number of film and television series, varying greatly in their faithfulness to the originals.

[edit] Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (1940 film), starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy.
Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003), a modern-day independent film adaptation.
Pride & Prejudice (2005 film), starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.

Pride and Prejudice (1952 TV serial), starring Ann Baskett as Elizabeth Bennet and Peter Cushing as Mr. Darcy.
Pride and Prejudice (1980 TV serial) (1980), BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet and David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy.
Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV serial), A&E miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), a loose adaptation by Helen Fielding based on her book of the same name. The movie stars Renée Zellweger in the Elizabeth Bennet-inspired role of Bridget; Colin Firth, literally as Mr. (Mark) Darcy; and Hugh Grant as the Wickham-inspired Daniel. The 1995 TV serial is specifically referenced in the book and subsequent movie, intentionally naming Mr. Darcy after the Pride and Prejudice character.
Bride & Prejudice(2004), a Bollywood style adaptation directed by Gurinder Chadha and starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson.
See also List of artistic depictions of and related to Pride and Prejudice.

[edit] Emma

Emma (1948 film), starring Judy Campbell as Emma.
Emma (1996 film), 1996 film directed by Douglas MacGrath and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma and Jeremy Northam as Knightley.

Emma (1960 TV serial), starring Diana Fairfax as Emma.
Emma (1972 TV serial), 1972 UK TV film starring Doran Godwin as Emma.
Emma (1996 TV drama), 1996 UK TV film starring Kate Beckinsale as Emma.

Clueless (1995 film), a modernization of the novel set in a Beverly Hills high school. The film was directed by Amy Heckerling and stars Alicia Silverstone.

[edit] Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility (film), film starring Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood, Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, with Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon. Directed by Ang Lee.

Sense and Sensibility (1971 TV serial), BBC series starring Joanna David as Elinor Dashwood and Ciaran Madden as Marianne Dashwood
Sense and Sensibility (1981 TV serial), BBC series starring Irene Richard as Elinor Dashwood and Tracey Childs as Marianne Dashwood
Sense and Sensibility (2007 TV serial), BBC series starring as Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood and Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood

Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000), a contemporary Kollywood (Tamil) film set in the present, based on the same plot, starring Tabu as Sowmya (Elinor Dashwood), Aishwarya Rai as Meenakshi (Marianne Dashwood), with Ajit as Manohar (Edward Ferrars), Abbas as Srikanth (Willoughby) and Mammootty as Captain Bala (Colonel Brandon).

[edit] Persuasion

Persuasion (1995 film), made-for-television film which was released in US theatres by Sony Pictures Classics, starring Amanda Root as Anne and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth.

Persuasion (1960 series), BBC miniseries starring Daphne Slater as Anne and Paul Daneman as Captain Wentworth.
Persuasion (1971 series), BBC miniseries starring Anne Firbank as Anne and Bryan Marshall as Captain Wentworth.
Persuasion (2007 TV drama), miniseries filmed in Bath in September 2006 for ITV, with Sally Hawkins as Anne, Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth, and Anthony Stewart Head as Sir Walter Elliot, and Julia Davis.

[edit] Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park (film) 1999 film directed by the Canadian Patricia Rozema, and starring Frances O'Connor, Embeth Davidtz, Sheila Gish and Harold Pinter.

Mansfield Park (1983 TV serial) miniseries starring Sylvestra Le Touzel, Nicholas Farrell, and Anna Massey
Mansfield Park (2007 TV drama), miniseries directed by Iain B. MacDonald. With Billie Piper as Fanny

Metropolitan (1990 film) a loose adaptation set in modern day Manhattan and Long Island. Written and directed by Whit Stillman, and starring Edward Clements, Carolyn Farina, Taylor Nichols, and Chris Eigeman (Jane Austen is also mentioned throughout the film.)

[edit] Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey (1986 film), directed by Giles Foster and released in 1986, starring Peter Firth in the role of Henry Tilney.

Northanger Abbey (2007 TV drama), directed by Jon Jones and released in 2007, starring Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland and JJ Fields as Henry Tilney.

[edit] Non-book based
The 1980 film Jane Austen in Manhattan is about rival stage companies who wish to produce the only complete Austen play "Sir Charles Grandison" (from the Richardson novel of the same title), which was rediscovered in 1980.[11]
A semi-biographical 2007 film Becoming Jane, was directed by Julian Jarrold and stars Anne Hathaway as Jane. The film centers around her purported romance with young Tom Lefroy, played by James McAvoy. It is very loosely based on brief mentions of him in two of her letters to her only sister Cassandra.
Another 2007 semi-biographical film, this one produced by the BBC for television, Miss Austen Regrets. It focuses on the last few years of Austen's life, in which she looks back on her life and loves. Jane Austen is played by Olivia Williams.
The 2007 film The Jane Austen Book Club is about a group of people who form a Jane Austen discussion group. Much of the dialogue concerns her novels and her personal life.

[edit] Plays and Musicals
Pride and Prejudice (1935) dramatized by Helen Jerome
First Impressions (1959), a Broadway musical adaptation of Pride and Prejudice
"JANE, the musical" debuted in June 2006 in the West Midlands, UK. It is a West-end style musical theatre production based on the life of Jane Austen. The musical, directed by Geetika Lizardi, focuses on Austen as a modern heroine, a woman who chose art and integrity over the security of a loveless marriage.
Emma, A New Musical (2007) based on the novel "Emma"

[edit] References
^ Letters of Jane Austen, available online: [1]. Retrieved 5/14/07.
^ Harris Bigg-Wither 1781-1833
^ The Jane Austen Centre website celebrates her time in Bath.
^ Words, Words, Words, English Literature: The Romantics and the Victorians, La Spiga languages, 2003
^ Words, Words, Words, English Literature: The Romantics and the Victorians, La Spiga languages, 2003
^ Teaching Comedy in Jane Austen's Works: A Sample Syllabus
^ Criticisms and Interpretations
^ "The Charm is Broken": Sexual Desire and Transgression in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park
^ Trilling on Mansfield Park
^ A Reading of "Mansfield Park": An Essay in Critical Synthesis, Review author[s: A. Walton Litz Nineteenth-Century Fiction 1968 University of California Press]
^ BBC News. 2004. Rare Austen manuscript unveiled

[edit] Further reading
Honan, Park. Jane Austen: Her Life. Max Press 2007 ISBN 978 1 904435 81 5
Bautz, Annika. Reception of Jane Austen and Walter Scott: A Comparative Longitudinal Study. Continuum, 2007. ISBN 0-826-49546-X, ISBN-13 978-0826495464
Bagchi, Barnita. 'Instruction a Torment?: Jane Austen’s Early Writing and Conflicting Versions of Female Education in Romantic-Era ‘Conservative’ British Women’s Novels’, Romanticism on the Net, 2005 [2]
Knox-Shaw, Peter. Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0521843464
Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: a life. Revised and updated edition. London: Penguin, 2000. ISBN 0-14-029690-5
Le Faye, Deirdre. Jane Austen: A Family Record. 2nd. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-53417-8
Richard Handler, Daniel A. Segal Hierarchies of Choice: The Social Construction of Rank in Jane Austen American Ethnologist, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Nov., 1985), pp. 691-706
My Dear Cassandra: The Letters of Jane Austen. Selected by Penelope Hughes-Hallett.
Jones, Darryl. Jane Austen. Palgrave Macmillan (22 Jul 2004) ISBN-13: 978-0333727430
Nokes, David. Jane Austen. Fourth Estate, 1998. ISBN-10 1857026675, ISBN-13 978-1857026672
Daniel A. Segal, Richard Handler Serious Play: Creative Dance and Dramatic Sensibility in Jane Austen, Ethnographer Man, New Series, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1989), pp. 322-339 doi:10.2307/2803309
Shields, Carol, Jane Austen (Penguin Lives). Viking Penguin, 2001. ISBN: 0143035169.
Smith, Lori, A Walk with Jane Austen. WaterBrook, 2007. ISBN: 978-1400073702
Southam, Brian, Jane Austen and the Navy, London, National Maritime Museum, new edn 2005. ISBN: 0948065656
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