Wandering About

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mazeI get lost. Easily. It’s a joke among friends and family how easily I get lost. At times I manage to get lost in town – and I’ve been living around here all my life, although I have a private theory that Mantua at times must stretch, curl or uncurl this or that street, and move gardens and squares and palaces – for either comfort or fun… Continue reading

Ur-Kindle

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urkindle1I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love about my Kindle is that it allows me to carry around a huge quantity of books inside one compact object. Although mine, bought back in 2010, is almost a kindlesaur and somewhat bigger than the current version, it still does its job: wherever I go, I can pack a whole library in my bag. Continue reading

Turnus

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turnusBecause of Of Men and Poets next week, the Aeneid is rather on my mind. I must confess I quite hated it back in my school days, and still can’t make myself like Aeneas… My sympathy goes to Turnus, the young king of the Rutuli, who is minding his business, ruling his kingdom and wooing his cousin, princess Lavinia, when Aeneas barges in, armed with divine favour and Fate’s plans for Rome… Continue reading

Some More Charlotte

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villetteIt is her year too, after all…

And I came across Carrie Frye’s musings about… oh, several things, actually: Claire Harman’s new biography, Charlotte’s rather desolate 1843 summer break in Brussels, its portrayal in Villette, and the very, very early days of writing Jane Eyre. Also, first drafts, recent discoveries and readerly thrills… Continue reading

Of Men and Poets Again

untitled-2I wrote once that I wanted nothing better than a chance to rewrite certain plays of mine – especially Of Men and Poets, my Virgil thing. And then I wrote that the chance had happened – if only I could find the notes I was sure to have taken during the first run…

Well, I didn’t quite find the notes – or at least, not the pages and pages of handwritten notes of my imaginary movie starring myself as the Playwright… Continue reading

A Deeply Bogus Genre

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tlsSo the Times Literary Supplement was in Oxford for the HNS Conference, in the person of Michael Caines, who covered “us” with a nice set of musings about what goes on behind the curtain of historical fiction.

He quotes from an essay of Toby Litt’s, affectionately calling HF a “deeply bogus” oxymoron of genre, in that its trick is done by conjoining “what was with what might have been”.  Continue reading

Oxford Thoughts

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oxfordSo I’m home.

I’ve had three wonderful days at the lovely and impeccably managed HNS Conference. As I said, it was my first writing conference, so I have no term of comparison – but Richard Lee, Carol McGrath and Jenny Barden created something so very stimulating, well-thought and friendly… I loved every minute of it. I met all sorts of interesting people, attended great talks and lectures, learned a good deal… and I pitched my novel. Twice.

The feedback has been most interesting… Continue reading