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A message from Dean Swift

I apologise to this website’s watchers for the fact that I have not posted anything for a couple of days. I and my family have been struck down by Madame Grippe, a tenacious and painful lady whom nobody wants to sleep with, though anyone struck by her – must. Today I hope to write about a lady who must be a relative of La Grippe, in that both females are extremely disagreeable, though myths about both have been around for centuries. Today or tomorrow I write about Elizabeth Báthory, Countess (or ‘Blood Countess’) of Nádasdy. (more…)

By | 2012-02-18T12:03:55+00:00 February 18th, 2012|English Language, Humour, Today|0 Comments

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 – 1618): a life of frustration

Sir Walter, not a lucky man / biography.com

Sir Walter, not a lucky man / biography.com

He was an explorer, courtier, navigator, cartographer and part-time corsair. Young Walter took part in privateering expeditions to the West Indies, an increasingly important staging post between the newly opened-up North America and Britain, hub of the fledgling empire.

He was sent by Queen Elizabeth I to suppress rebellion in Ireland. On his return from this mostly unsuccessful sortie he became a favourite with the Queen, though he had failed in Ireland. The Queen knew her history; all English attempts to sort out the Irish Question had failed, sometimes spectacularly. Always had, always have and always will. So Elizabeth, never lacking in a sense of humour, rewarded Raleigh for what he had done in Ireland with a gift of land – in Ireland. (more…)

By | 2012-02-14T09:27:46+00:00 February 14th, 2012|English History, English Language, US History|0 Comments

Richard III, or how a Pack of Lies became History

The most popular portrait of Richard, playing with his sovereign's ring / simple.wikipedia.org

The most popular portrait of Richard, playing with his sovereign’s ring / simple.wikipedia.org

William Shakespeare usually wrote his History plays with careful regard for the facts. He read Polydore Virgil, Edmund Hall, Holinshed and other historians before putting historical events into theatrical plays written to attract a large public to his theatre. In one play, however, Shakespeare appears to have taken the written words of saints like Thomas More into his scheme of things without investigation or doubt. More wrote history to suit King Henry VII’s pleasure. After all, the first Tudor (q.v.) had usurped a usurper’s throne, but the less said about that the better. (more…)

By | 2011-11-22T18:45:00+00:00 November 22nd, 2011|English History, English Language|1 Comment

A Chronology of Shakespeare’s Plays

Shakespeare around 1609 / imagenpolitica.comWhile there has always been loud debate about ‘the author of William Shakespeare’s plays’ –  the concept is foolish – there is always a doubt in academe not just about possible or mooted authorship, but also about exactly when WS wrote the plays. Dividing the thirty-seven (38?) into separate sections – comedy, tragedy, history and romance – we present here what could be called a concerted opinion on this contentious subject. As to authorship, it hardly matters! All we need to know is that the plays exist; some of them might have been copied from other authors, some were most definitely inspired by others. It really does not matter. The plays exist, and we choose to place them under the authorship of a man called William Shakespeare. Some might have been written by a man called William Wickleigh. We can be certain that neither C. Marlowe nor F. Bacon wrote any of them. We can also be certain that among Shakespeare’s colleagues in the theatre world there were men clever and erudite to have taken the Master’s notes and sketches and formed them into plays. That was how the First Folios were published. The illustration shows Shakespeare around 1609. (more…)

By | 2011-08-28T16:23:05+00:00 August 28th, 2011|English Language|0 Comments
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