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Hans Holbein’s (hostile) depiction of Thomas Cromwell Dear friends and readers, I attempt to capture something of the experience I have just had with a group of people at an Oscher Institute of Lifelong Learning (attached to George Mason). We read and discussed carefully Mantel’s two novels as providing us with a fresh angle on […]

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Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall, scripted Peter Straughan, directed Peter Kosminsky) Wolf Hall It is all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it’s no good at all if you don’t have a plan for tomorrow” — Cromwell to his son Gregory […]

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From Peter Staughan’s 2015 Wolf Hall: actors dancing Renaissance dance, POV Cromwell What sort of person writes fiction about the past? It is helpful to be acquainted with violence, because the past is violent. It is necessary to know that the people who live there are not the same as people now. It is necessary […]

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This photo is dated 2000 — Barbara Ehrenreich Hilary Mantel, Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, April 1, 2017, Oxford, England. Friends and readers, I want to record the passing of two more important women in our era (Elizabeth Windsor was important for what she was), these two important for themselves as individuals:  Mantel for her masterly […]

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An eighteenth century trunk — probably more elegant than a woman’s typical “box” where she carried her things with her Virginia Woolf’s writing desk Dear friends and readers, I have been wanting to report two more virtual conferences I’ve attended online, both stimulating and about two women writers who are strongly connected to Austen’s work, […]

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The three covers before the TV series began I woke to the patter of rain on canvas, with the feel of my first husband’s kiss on my lips. I blinked, disoriented, and by reflex put my fingers to my mouth. To keep the feeling, or to hide it? I wondered, even as I did so. […]

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Mary Wollstonecraft (1758-97) “I don’t believe you realise how much the war has stung our generation. We have had the bottom of things knocked out completely, we have been sent reeling into the chaos and it seems to us that none of your standards are either fixed or necessarily good because in the end they […]

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Ahdaf Soueif Would Austen have read this book? she would have seen it as an improbable Radcliffe fantasy (especially the trunk and manuscripts) and gobbled it up, all the while writing harsh abrasive remarks about it to Cassandra who would at least listen …. Friends and readers, I first read Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of […]

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Friends, This eloquent and persuasive study of four women writers’ work: — Elizabeth Stoddard, Louisa May Alcott, Constance Fennimore Woolson, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps — is the fifth of several general books on women who spent long periods of time unmarried that I have been reading towards my project for a collection of essays in […]

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Ford Madox Brown’s famous The Last of England (1864-65) Friends and readers, I’ve been working away on my paper for the coming ASECS conference in Denver, Colorado, on Winston Graham’s historical fiction; its now 19 minutes long and all ready, the title: “‘After the Jump:’ Winston Graham’s uses of documented fact and silences,” and I’ve […]

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