'Silver Fork' or Fashionable Novels are the largely forgotten English popular novels of the 1820s and 30s which depicted aristocratic life and scandals as a how-to guide for rising middle-class readers while also exploring growing political and class anxieties in the post-Regency. Advice on how to romance, eat, party and raise children like a member of the upper class from Silver Fork novels via Bizarre Victoria (previously).
Phillip Larkin was one of Britain's most famous twentieth century poets. He's probably most well known for 'This Be The Verse' (nsfw) but another notable poem was 'The Whitsun Weddings' based on a railway journey or journeys he undertook from Hull to London fifty years ago. Fellow poet Ian McMillan revisits that journey.
Colin Wilson has passed away at the age of 82. He rose to fame in the 50s with The Outsider, which made him a figure amongst Britain's Beat movement and Angry Young Men. His writing has spanned the fiction and non-fiction, with an interest in the paranormal and the occult, his thoughts on which he blended with HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to produce The Mind Parasites. A TV series based on his The Space Vampires, also the basis for the movie Lifeforce (previously), is currently planned. Wikipedia page, 2004 Guardian interview, Times Obituary (subs only).
Looking for a great read by a UK / Commonwealth writer? A slate of 13 novels were just announced for this year's Man Booker Prize longlist. [more inside]
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
Observer literary editor Robert McCrum, retiring after ten years in the job, writes about the revolution in the book world he's seen over the last decade.
110 Best Books. 'The perfect library' - According to the Torygraph... at least there's a 'Sci-fi' section among the usual suspects (And one or two bizarre choices - Pelzer! What the heck!)
"I'm not a politician, I'm an artist. Depravity is part of the job description," says self-styled dandy, former drug addict, and controversial British author Sebastian Horsely, who was denied entrance to the US by customs officials at Newark Airport on the grounds of "moral turpitude," a wide net that encompasses everything from fornication to being a "nuisance." Shades of Oscar Wilde.
Great Poets Of The 20th Century. From The Guardian so Brit bias... Introduction, William Boyd on Siegfried Sassoon, John Banville on Seamus Heaney, Jeanette Winterson on Ted Hughes, Andrew Motion on Philip Larkin, Margaret Drabble on Sylvia Plath, Rowan Williams on WH Auden, Craig Raine on T.S. Eliot.
The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. A few interesting choices here... the 'novelist's poet' at #1 seems fair enough, but this one, this one and this one?
Norman Mailer has posthumously won this year's Literary Review Bad Sex Award for his novel on the early life of Hitler, The Castle in the Forest. He was up against some stiff competition but Norman managed to rise to the occasion (sorry). Safe for work, but you might feel a bit dirty in the morning.
New contender for world's worst poem. Yes, the mighty William Topaz McGonagall seemingly unassailable position as writer of the sublime The Tay Bridge Disaster is under serious threat... [more inside]
In the 19th century, English author Favell Mortimer wrote several books describing various countries to children. Apparently she didn't travel much. [more inside]
Exit Music. The King of Tartan Noir, Ian Rankin has retired his detective John Rebus. Ageing him with each novel, Rebus has finally reached the retirement age at Edinburgh CID; Although that may not stop him... [more inside]
In the new LRB, a pretty good attempt to answer the pressing question - why do the Bush people want to attack Iraq so much?