Connection: Charles Dickens

Sylvia’s Lovers, Elizabeth Gaskell

Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) was Elizabeth Gaskell’s last full length novel to be published before her death. Set against the background of the French Revolutionary wars (1792-1802) it is a tale of the conflicting claims of two lovers for the hand of the heroine, Sylvia. Elizabeth called it ‘the saddest book I ever wrote’. Its core… Read more »

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) was a novelist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of Victorian society, including the very poor.

Man of Appetites, Alexandre Dumas

In the summer of 1869, an old and ailing Alexandre Dumas moved to Roscoff, a seaside retreat in Brittany famous for its onions. Despite his extraordinary success as one of the nineteenth century’s greatest literary figures, he was now hard up. In Roscoff he could live cheaply while writing furiously for income. His final undertaking… Read more »

Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870) was one of the most popular and prolific authors in France, known for his plays and historical adventure novels such as The Three Musketeers.

Brighton Rock, Graham Greene

Brighton was and still is a popular seaside resort in East Sussex on the south coast of England. But in the 1930s, beyond the glitzy tourist façade of the Palace Pier with its Royal Pavilion and amusements, lay tracts of shonky housing, dreary shopping precincts, industrial areas, and a racecourse that crawled with small time… Read more »

Ali Smith

Ali Smith (1962 – ) is a an award winning Scottish author, playwright, academic, journalist and one of Britains finest writers.

Honoré de Balzac: The Optical Gastronomer

Everything about Honoré de Balzac was exuberant, uncouth and larger than life. One of the greatest European writers and the founder of the modern novel, he was also a flaneur, treasure hunter, gourmet, political campaigner, businessman, self-publicist, inventor, interior decorator and con man. He participated in his age like a whirling dervish. Coming of age… Read more »

Summer’s Breath, Shakespeare’s Birthplace

I arrived at Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon on a sultry, storm-threatened August afternoon. Not so many were visiting the house and I gleefully roamed the garden which was packed with roses in full bloom, some past their peak, a few falling into decay. This sonnet seemed to be the right choice. Sense of Place William… Read more »