QotW (#77): 20 May 2019

elizabeth essex film poster

When you teach Richard III you almost inevitably touch on the idea that ‘history is written by the winners’, as Orwell said in 1944 (and again, of course, so horrifically in Nineteen Eighty-Four). [a]

Who were victorious over Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex in the end?  Would he have recognised the history they wrote for him?

Continue reading “QotW (#77): 20 May 2019”

[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors

borman tudors cover

 

Tracy BormanThe Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 2016)

A salutary warning for would-be 21st-century celebrities?

Francis Bacon calls it correctly, as he so often does:

Men in great place […] have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. [a]

Continue reading “[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors”

PTS 13/081: The Curse of Kings

… is that the job is, frankly, shit. And that you have to be a shit to do it successfully.

big mac
Excuse me?  I ordered a kingdom like I saw in the advert …

PTS read-through:  King John, Act IV.

If you’re not ‘born great’, if you want to achieve greatness, you have to put in the hours, right?  Just think of the graft involved: wheeling and dealing; equivocating; making and breaking alliances; sucking up; marrying well (not, alas, for love); adding colours to the chameleon; changing shapes with Proteus; and generally setting the murderous Machiavel to school.

And for what?

Continue reading “PTS 13/081: The Curse of Kings”

QotW (#63): Monday 14 January 2019

king john donald trump
image: Mashable [a]
I mentioned the other day that I was coming into King John blind, apart from the Disney film and a vague notion of the Magna Carta.  The little I am beginning to accumulate through secondary reading and the play itself is startling.

Continue reading “QotW (#63): Monday 14 January 2019”

QotW (#61): 12 November 2018

BH ken dodd
Ken Dodd (and his infamous tickling stick):  ‘I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law in eighteen months.  I don’t like to interrupt …’

You probably know my taste for puerile humour by now.

This joke (and there are many versions of it knocking around) has been a favourite since before I got married, a good twenty years ago.  You can imagine how well it went down, the first time I used it on my (rather fierce) ex-mother-in-law.  I received what we might call an ‘old-fashioned look’, with added chilli.  Nowadays, poking fun at someone’s verbosity is also self-referential, because, yes, I unashamedly like to talk!  In my defence, it’s because I ‘live’ in 1592.

Which leads me nicely to this week’s QotW

Continue reading “QotW (#61): 12 November 2018”

We HAVE remembered them …

hedd wynn
Aerial image of Hedd Wynn at Colwyn Bay before the tide rolled in …

Fittingly for the 100th anniversary, today was the most affecting Remembrance event I’ve been to.

Continue reading “We HAVE remembered them …”

QotW (#59): 22 October 2018

It’s no wonder we love soliloquy …

BH marlowe-and-shakespeare

Regular visitors know that I teach Richard III and Edward II at A Level – coincidentally, plays which seem to have appeared within months of each other, in or around 1592.  Marlowe doesn’t get discussed much in the circles I move in online, and Edward II often feels even more overlooked – so when someone wanted to talk about the differences between Kit and Will on /r/shakespeare (after watching a performance of Tamburlaine), I couldn’t resist diving in.  Here’s an edited extract of what I said:

Continue reading “QotW (#59): 22 October 2018”