Film Review – Jane Austen’s Comedy

Scene from Love and Friendship film

Sir James Martin is Austen’s most foolish caricature

I must admit that although I love Jane Austen and have read all her novels, I hadn’t ever attempted her novella Lady Susan, partly because it is written almost entirely through letters. I’m highly grateful to Radio 4 that I even knew about this film (entitled Love and Friendship) based on the novella, as I haven’t seen any advertisements for it. I spent a long time looking up every cinema within reach of Cardiff and was relieved to discover that it would be shown at Chapter Arts Centre.    Continue reading

The Hay Festival – a celebration of literature or fame?

Comedy store players at Hay Festival

The Comedy Store Players

It has struck me that the Hay Festival seems to be more about politics and ideas than books or literature. Out of the 26 events which I attended (mainly as a steward), only 12 of them could really be classed as having a focus on literature, and several of those were about Shakespeare. It seems much more to be a case of getting celebrities to come along and talk about their one book, which could be on any subject from dogs to politics. I do hope that this trend doesn’t get out of hand, and that the celebrity attraction will be balanced out, next year, with plenty of real literature.    Continue reading

Three Great Authoresses: Brontë, Austen and Eliot

austen eliot bronteCharlotte Brontë, Jane Austen and George Eliot are three of Britain’s greatest women writers, but which one is your favourite? Which one do you think is the greatest? You can add your own vote to the poll at the end of this post.

I attended an event at the Stratford Literature Festival last weekend, with a panel of three biographers. Paula Byrne (The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things), Val Dodd (George Eliot: An Intellectual Life) and Claire Harman (Charlotte Brontë: A Life) each presented the case for their favourite authoress.    Continue reading

The Power of Poetry on Prescription

Emergency PoetDo you read as a form of escapism? Or perhaps you read to calm yourself down at the end of a busy day? Stressed, Unstressed: Classic Poems to Ease the Mind is an anthology of poems selected specifically to help those who are going through tough times (a form of “bibliotherapy”). I attended a fascinating event organised as part of the Stratford Literature Festival, to hear more about this concept. Dr Paula Byrne (academic and founder of ReLit charity), Dr Andrew Schuman (a medical doctor and poet) and Deborah Alma (aka The Emergency Poet) discussed the growing trend in taking literature seriously for its medicinal value in relation to mental health.    Continue reading

Do we take children’s literature seriously?

book for childrenLast night I attended a lecture on this topic, which was organised as part of the Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival. I was unsure what to expect. My own opinion is that all literature should be taken seriously, including books written for children. At the age of ten I was regularly reading adult books and yet as an adult I am happy to re-read the books of my childhood. I even organised a Roald Dahl themed party for my thirtieth birthday. So what’s the problem?    Continue reading

My Top 5 Websites for finding UK Literary Festivals

Stratford literature festivalHave you been inspired to get out there and see what’s going on in the world of literary festivals? Or perhaps, like me, you’re becoming a bit of a lit fest junkie and want more and more… Well, there are literally hundreds of them in the UK alone, and plenty of extra events going on throughout the year. Almost every self-respecting town or city hosts one, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find one near you. But how exactly do you go about discovering these unmissable events? Here are my top 5 useful websites for discovering literary festivals in the UK…    Continue reading