Spirit of England - The Arts - Literature

'English Literature
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015   
E N G LI S H   L I T E R A T U R E
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015

Geoffrey Chaucer - (1343-1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400), known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
While he achieved fame during his lifetime as an author, philosopher, alchemist and astronomer, composing a scientific treatise on the astrolabe for his ten year-old son Lewis, Chaucer also maintained an active career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat.
Among his many works, which include 'The Book of the Duchess', 'the House of Fame', 'the Legend of Good Women' and 'Troilus and Criseyde', he is best loved today for 'The Canterbury Tales'.
Chaucer is a crucial figure in developing the legitimacy of the vernacular, Middle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin.


William Shakespeare - Portrait Bust

William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.
He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon".
His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems.
His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

'Shakespeare in Love'

'Shakespeare in Love' is a 1998 British-American film directed by John Madden and written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard.
The film portrays playwright William Shakespeare's involvement in a love affair at the time that he was writing the play Romeo and Juliet.
The story is fiction, though several of the characters are based on real people.
In addition, many of the characters, lines, and plot devices are references to Shakespeare's plays.

'Shakespeare in Love' won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (for Gwyneth Paltrow), and Best Supporting Actress(for Judi Dench).

'Romeo and Juliet' - Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian cinematic adaptation of the William Shakespeare play of the same name.
The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and stars Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.
It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design; it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture.
Sir Laurence Olivier spoke the film's prologue and epilogue and reportedly dubbed the voice of the Italian actor playing Lord Montague, but was never credited in the film, either for reciting the Prologue or for dubbing Lord Montague.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Act V, Scene 1 'The Merchant of Venice'

as arranged by Ralf Vaughan Williams and set to

'Serenade to Music'

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn!
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
And draw her home with music.
Music! hark!
It is your music of the house.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it
How many things by season season'd are
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion
And would not be awak'd. Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
Set Design for the Enchanted Forest
'Midsummer Night's Dream'
William Shakespeare
Zac Sawyer

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
Puck in the final scene of
'Midsummer Night's Dream'
William Shakespeare
Zac Sawyer


William Blake - (1757-1827)

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.
Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language".
Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God", or "Human existence itself".
Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.
His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of both the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century.
Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England - indeed, to all forms of organised religion - Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg.
Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th century scholar William Rossetti characterised Blake as a "glorious luminary," and as "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".

William Blake - 'The Ancient of Days'


And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land


Lord Byron - (1788-1824)

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in Romanticism.
Amongst Byron's best-known works are the brief poems 'She Walks in Beauty', 'When We Two Parted', and 'So, we'll go no more a roving', in addition to the narrative poems 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage' and 'Don Juan'.
He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.
Byron was celebrated in life for aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, and self-imposed exile.
He was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as "mad, bad and dangerous to know".
He travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero.
He died from a fever contracted while in Messolonghi in Greece.

'She Walks in Beauty'

She walks in beauty, like the night  
  Of cloudless climes and starry skies;  
And all that 's best of dark and bright  
  Meet in her aspect and her eyes:  
Thus mellow'd to that tender light         
  Which heaven to gaudy day denies.  
One shade the more, one ray the less,  
  Had half impair'd the nameless grace  
Which waves in every raven tress,  
  Or softly lightens o'er her face;   
Where thoughts serenely sweet express  
  How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.  

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,  
  So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,  
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,   
  But tell of days in goodness spent,  
A mind at peace with all below,  
  A heart whose love is innocent!

Lord Byron - 'Don Juan'


Mary Shelley - (1797-1851)

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was a n English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel 'Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus' (1818).
She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
Mary Godwin's mother died when she was eleven days old; afterwards, she and her older half-sister, Fanny Imlay, were raised by her father. When Mary was four, Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his liberal political theories. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship with one of her father’s political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.
In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel 'Frankenstein'.
The Shelleys left England in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence.
In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia.
A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author.
The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.

Mary Shelley - 'Frankenstein'

Mary Shelley - 'Frankenstein'


Charles Dickens - (1812-1870)

Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters.
Many of his novels, with their recurrent concern for social reform, first appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time.
Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialised.
The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next installment.
The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
His work has been praised for its realism, mastery of prose, comic genius and unique personalities by writers such as George Gissing, Leo Tolstoy, and G. K. Chesterton.

Charles Dickens - 'A Christmas Carol'


Alfred Lord Tennyson - (1809 – 1892)

Samuel Lawrence

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language.
Tennyson excelled at penning short lyrics, such as "In the Valley of Cauteretz", "Break, Break, Break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, Idle Tears" and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes, such as Ulysses, although 'In Memoriam A.H.H.' (see below) was written to commemorate his best friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and fellow student at Trinity College, Cambridge, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister, but died from a brain haemorrhage before they could marry.
Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, "Ulysses," and "Tithonus."
During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success.
A number of phrases from Tennyson's work have become commonplaces of the English language, including "Nature, red in tooth and claw", "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure", "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers", and "The old order changeth, yielding place to new".
He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

The Lady of Shallot 1888
John William Waterhouse

Tennyson wrote two versions of the poem, one published in 1833, of twenty stanzas, the other in 1842 of nineteen stanzas.
It was loosely based on the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat, as recounted in a thirteenth-century Italian novella titled Donna di Scalotta (No. lxxxii in the collection Cento Novelle Antiche), with the earlier version being closer to the source material than the later.
Tennyson focused on the Lady's "isolation in the tower and her decision to participate in the living world, two subjects not even mentioned in Donna di Scalotta."


In Memoriam A.H.H. was completed in 1849.
It is a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage in Vienna in 1833.
Because it was written over a period of 17 years, its meditation on the search for hope after great loss touches upon many of the most important and deeply-felt concerns of Victorian society.
It contains some of Tennyson's most accomplished lyrical work, and is an unusually sustained exercise in lyric verse.
It is widely considered to be one of the great poems of the 19th century.
The poem was a great favourite of Queen Victoria, who found it a source of solace after the death of Prince Albert in 1861. In 1862, Victoria requested a meeting with Tennyson because she was so impressed by the poem.
The original title of the poem was "The Way of the Soul", and this might give an idea of how the poem is an account of all Tennyson's thoughts and feelings as he copes with his grief over such a long period - including wrestling with the big philosophical and scientific questions of his day.
It is perhaps because of this that the poem is still popular with and of interest to modern readers. Owing to its length and its arguable breadth of focus, the poem might not be thought an elegy or a dirge in the strictest formal sense.



I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

So runs my dream, but what am I ?
An infant crying in the night
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry.


Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen (3 March 1863 – 15 December 1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century.
He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction.
His novella 'The Great God Pan' (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror. (Stephen King called it "Maybe the best horror story in the English language".)
He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the 'Angels of Mons'.
Around 1890 Machen began to publish in literary magazines, writing stories influenced by the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, some of which used gothic or fantastic themes.
This led to his first major success, "The Great God Pan".
In 1906 Machen's literary career continued to flourish as the book 'The House of Souls' collected his most notable works of the nineties and brought them to a new audience.
The coming of war in 1914 saw Machen return to public prominence for the first time in twenty years due to the publication of "The Bowmen" and the subsequent publicity surrounding the "Angels of Mons" episode.
Machen was well read on such matters as Hermeticism, and these occult interests formed part of his close friendship with A. E. Waite.
After his experimentation with the 'Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn', the orthodox ritual of the Church became ever more important to him, gradually defining his position as a High Church Anglican who was able to incorporate elements from his own mystical experiences, Celtic Christianity, and readings in literature and legend into his thinking.

'The Angels of Mons'

Inspired by Arthur Machen's 'The Bowmen'


Alfred Edward Housman - (1859 - 1936)

Alfred Edward Housman (26 March 1859 – 30 April 1936), usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems 'A Shropshire Lad'.
Lyrical and almost epigrammatic in form, the poems were mostly written before 1900.
Their wistful evocation of doomed youth in the English countryside, in spare language and distinctive imagery, appealed strongly to late Victorian and Edwardian taste, and to many early 20th century English composers (beginning with Arthur Somervell) both before and after the First World War.
Through its song-setting the poetry became closely associated with that era, and with Shropshire itself.
Housman was counted one of the foremost classicists of his age, and has been ranked as one of the greatest scholars of all time.
He established his reputation publishing as a private scholar and, on the strength and quality of his work, was appointed Professor of Latin at University College London and later, at Cambridge.
His editions of Juvenal, Manilius and Lucan are still considered authoritative.
'A Shropshire Lad' is a cycle of sixty-three poems.
The collection was published in 1896 (see 1896 in poetry).
Housman originally titled the book 'The Poems of Terence Hearsay', referring to a character in the volume, but changed the title at the suggestion of his publisher.
Some of the better-known poems in the book are "To an Athlete Dying Young", "Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now" and "When I Was One-and-Twenty".
The collection was published in 1896 (see 1896 in poetry).
The main theme of 'A Shropshire Lad' is mortality, and so living life to its fullest, since death can strike at any time.
For example, number IV, titled "Reveille", urges an unnamed "lad" to stop sleeping in the daylight, for "When the journey's over/There'll be time enough to sleep."


'Into my heart an air that kills 
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills, 
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content, 
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went 
And cannot come again.'

A E Housman

'Shropshire Ploughing'


H G Wells - (1866-1946)

H G Wells on the set of  'Things to Come'

Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre.
He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books.
Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as "The Father of Science Fiction".
Wells was an outspoken socialist and sympathetic to pacifist views, although he supported the First World War once it was under way, and his later works became increasingly political and didactic.
His middle-period novels (1900–1920) were less science-fictional; they covered lower-middle class life (The History of Mr Polly) and the "New Woman" and the Suffragettes (Ann Veronica).
His early novels, called "scientific romances", invented a number of themes now classic in science fiction in such works as 'The Time Machine', 'The Island of Doctor Moreau', 'The Invisible Man', 'The War of the Worlds', 'When the Sleeper Wakes', and 'The First Men in the Moon'.
He also wrote other, non-fantastic novels that have received critical acclaim including 'Kipps' and the satire on Edwardian advertising, 'Tono-Bungay'.


Sir Arthur Connan Doyle - (1859-1930)

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930 was a Scottish  physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger.
He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.

'The Coming 0f the Faeries' - Arthur Connan Doyle


Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children.
Kipling received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
He was born in Bombay, in the Bombay Presidency of British India, and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old.
Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including 'The Jungle Book' (1894), 'Kim' (1901), many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888); and his poems, including 'Mandalay' (1890), 'Gunga Din' (1890), 'The White Man's Burden' (1899) and 'If—' (1910).
He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature.
Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient.
Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined.


If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son !


Arthur Christopher Benson

Arthur Christopher Benson (24 April 1862 – 17 June 1925) was an English essayist, poet, and author and the 28th Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
Benson was one of six children of Edward White Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury, 1882–96) and his lesbian wife Mary, sister of the philosopher Henry Sidgwick.
The Benson family was exceptionally literate and accomplished, but their history was somewhat tragic.
A son and daughter died young; and another daughter, as well as Arthur himself, suffered badly from a mental condition that was probably manic-depressive psychosis, which they had inherited from their father.
None of the children ever married.
Arthur was homosexual, though his diaries suggest he had few or no sexual relationships.
Despite his illness, Arthur was a distinguished academic and a most prolific author.
He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge.
From 1885 to 1903 he taught at Eton, returning to Cambridge to lecture in English literature for Magdalene College.
From 1915 to 1925, he was Master of Magdalene.
From 1906, he was a governor of Gresham's School.

His poems and volumes of essays, such as 'From a College Window', were famous in his day; and he left one of the longest diaries ever written, some four million words.
Today, he is best remembered as the author of the libretto of Elgar's (see right) 'Coronation Ode', (for the Coronation of Edward VII) (see left), which includes one of Britain's best-loved patriotic songs, 'Land of Hope and Glory'.
Benson is also remembered as a brother to novelists E. F. Benson and Robert Hugh Benson, and to Egyptologist Margaret Benson.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he founded in 1916 the Benson Medal to be awarded ‘in respect of meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles lettres’.
He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge.


'Land of hope and glory,
Mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee,
who are born of thee?
Truth and Right and Freedom,
each a holy gem,
Stars of solemn brightness,
weave thy diadem.

'Tho thy way be darken'd,
still in splendour drest,
As the star that trembles
o'er the liquid West.

Thron'd amid the billows,
thron'd inviolate,
Thou hast reign'd victorious,
thou hast smil'd at fate.

Land of hope and glory,
Fortress of the free,
How shall we extol thee?
praise thee, honour thee?
Hark! a mighty nation
maketh glad reply;
Lo, our lips are thankful;
lo, our hearts are high!
Hearts in hope uplifted,
loyal lips that sing;
Strong in Faith and Freedom,
we have crowned our King !'
A C Benson

Thomas Edward Lawrence
(1888 – 1935)

I deem him one of the greatest beings alive in our time… We shall never see his like again. His name will live in history. It will live in the annals of war… It will live in the legends of Arabia.

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18.
The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities.
Lawrence was born illegitimately in Tremadog, Wales in August 1888 to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, a governess, who was herself illegitimate.
Chapman left his wife to live with Sarah Junner, and they called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence.
In the summer of 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where from 1907 to 1910 young Lawrence studied history at Jesus College, graduating with First Class Honours.
He became a practising archaeologist in the Middle East, working with David George Hogarth and Leonard Woolley on various excavations.
In January 1914, before the outbreak of the First World War, Lawrence was co-opted by the British military to undertake a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.
Lawrence's public image was due in part to American journalist Lowell Thomas' sensationalised reportage of the revolt as well as to Lawrence's autobiographical account Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1922).

'Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph' is the autobiographical account of the experiences of T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), while serving as a liaison officer with rebel forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916 to 1918.
The title comes from the Book of Proverbs, 9:1: "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars" (KJV).
Prior to the First World War, Lawrence had begun work on a scholarly book about seven great cities of the Middle East,[2] to be titled Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
When war broke out, it was still incomplete and Lawrence stated that he ultimately destroyed the manuscript.

Dedication of the 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom

To S.A. - Selim Ahmed (ca. 1897–1916) also called "Dahoum"

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came.

Death seemed my servant on the road, till we were near
and saw you waiting:
When you smiled, and in sorrowful envy he outran me
and took you apart:
Into his quietness.

Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, our brief wage
ours for the moment
Before earth's soft hand explored your shape, and the blind
worms grew fat upon
Your substance.

Men prayed me that I set our work, the inviolate house,
as a memory of you.
But for fit monument I shattered it, unfinished: and now
The little things creep out to patch themselves hovels
in the marred shadow
Of your gift."

T.E. Lawrence


D H Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter.
His collected works, among other things, represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, some of the issues Lawrence explores are emotional health, vitality, spontaneity and instinct.
Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile which he called his "savage pilgrimage."
At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a 'pornographer', who had wasted his considerable talents.
E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, "The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation."
Later, the influential Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness, placing much of Lawrence's fiction within the canonical "great tradition" of the English novel.
The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner, and Lydia (née Beardsall), a former pupil teacher who, owing to her family's financial difficulties, had to do manual work in a lace factory, Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.
 He went on to become a full-time student and received a teaching certificate from University College, Nottingham, in 1908.

In March 1912 Lawrence met Frieda Weekley (née von Richthofen), with whom he was to share the rest of his life. Six years older than her new lover, she was married to Ernest Weekley, his former modern languages professor at University College, Nottingham, and had three young children.
She eloped with Lawrence to her parents' home in Metz, a garrison town then in Germany near the disputed border with France. 
Their stay there included Lawrence's first encounter with tensions between Germany and France, when he was arrested and accused of being a British spy, before being released following an intervention from Frieda's father.
After traumatic experiences during the war years, Lawrence began what he termed his 'savage pilgrimage', a time of voluntary exile.
He escaped from Britain at the earliest practical opportunity, to return only twice for brief visits, and with his wife spent the remainder of his life travelling.

This wanderlust took him to Australia, Italy, Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka), the United States, Mexico and the South of France.
Lawrence is best known for his novels 'Sons and Lovers', 'The Rainbow', and his finest work 'Women in Love'. Within these Lawrence explores the nature of personal, and particularly sexual relationships.
Though often classed as a realist, Lawrence in fact uses his characters to give form to his personal philosophy.
His depiction of sexual activity, though seen as shocking when he first published in the early 20th century, has its roots in this highly personal way of thinking and being.
It is worth noting that Lawrence's focus on physical intimacy has its roots in a desire to restore an emphasis on the body, and re-balance it with what he perceived to be Western civilisation's over-emphasis on the mind.


Rupert Brooke - (1887 - 1915)

Rupert Chawner Brooke (3 August 1887 – 23 April 1915 was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially 'The Soldier' (see below).
He was also known for his boyish good looks, which prompted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats to describe him as "the handsomest young man in England".
Brooke was born at 5 Hillmorton Road in Rugby, Warwickshire, the second of the three sons of William Parker Brooke, a Rugby schoolmaster, and Ruth Mary Brooke, née Cotterill.
He was educated at two independent schools in the market town of Rugby, Warwickshire; Hillbrow School and Rugby School.

While travelling in Europe he prepared a thesis entitled John Webster and the Elizabethan Drama, which won him a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, where he became a member of the Cambridge Apostles, helped found the Marlowe Society drama club and acted in plays including the Cambridge Greek Play.
Brooke made friends among the Bloomsbury group of writers.
Virginia Woolf boasted to Vita Sackville-West of once going 'skinny-dipping' with Brooke in a moonlit pool when they were at Cambridge together.
Brooke belonged to another literary group known as the Georgian Poets and was one of the most important of the Dymock poets, associated with the Gloucestershire village of Dymock where he spent some time before the war.
He also lived in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester (see right).
Brooke suffered a severe emotional crisis in 1912, caused by sexual confusion and jealousy, resulting in the breakdown of his long relationship with Ka Cox (Katherine Laird Cox).
Brooke fell heavily in love several times with both men and women, although his bisexuality was edited out of his life by his first literary executor.
Many more people were in love with him.
As a war poet came Brooke to public attention when The Times Literary Supplement quoted two of his five sonnets (IV: The Dead and V: The Soldier) in full on 11 March 1915 and subsequently his sonnet V: The Soldier was read from the pulpit of St.Paul's on Easter Sunday.
Brooke's most famous collection of poetry containing all five sonnets, 1914 & Other Poems, was first published in May 1915, and in testament to his popularity ran through 11 further impressions that year, and by June 1918 had reached its 24th impression; a process undoubtedly fuelled through posthumous interest.
He sailed with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28 February 1915 but developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. 
He died at 4:46 pm on 23 April 1915 in a French hospital ship moored in a bay off the island of Skyros in the Aegean on his way to the landing at Gallipoli.
As the expeditionary force had orders to depart immediately, he was buried at 11 pm in an olive grove on Skyros, Greece


If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust conceal'd;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air.
Wash'd by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke


George Orwell - (1903-1950)

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist.
His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to left wing totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in socialism.
Considered perhaps the twentieth century's best chronicler of English culture, Orwell wrote fiction, polemical journalism, literary criticism and poetry.
He is best known for the dystopian novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' (published in 1949) and the satirical novella 'Animal Farm' (1945)—they have together sold more copies than any two books by any other twentieth-century author.
His 1938 book 'Homage to Catalonia', an account of his experiences as a volunteer on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, together with numerous essays on politics, literature, language, and culture, are widely acclaimed.
Orwell's influence on contemporary culture, popular and political, continues decades after his death.
Several of his neologisms, along with the term "Orwellian"—now a byword for any oppressive or manipulative social phenomenon opposed to a free society—have entered the vernacular.



Robert Laurence Binyon (10 August 1869 at Lancaster – 10 March 1943 at Reading, Berkshire) was an English poet, dramatist, and art scholar. His most famous work, 'For the Fallen', is well known for being used in Remembrance Sunday services.

His words were famously set by Sir Edward Elgar in his choral work 'Spirit of England'

Now in thy splendor go before us,
Spirit of England, ardent eyed,
Enkindle this dear earth that bore us,
In the hour of peril purified

The cares we hugged drop out of vision,
Our hearts with deeper thoughts dilate.
We step from days of sour division
Into grandeur of our fate.

For us the glorious dead have striven,
They battled that we might be free.
We to their living cause are given;
We arm for men that are to be.

Among the nations nobliest chartered,
England recalls her heritage,
In her is that which is not bartered,
Which force can neither quell nor cage.

For her immortal star are burning;
With her, the hope that's never done,
The seed that's in the Spring's returning,
The very flower that seeks the sun.


Robert Graves

Robert  von Ranke Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was an English poet, translator and novelist.
During his long life he produced more than 140 works.
Graves' poems - together with his translations and innovative interpretations of the Greek myths, his memoir of his early life, including his role in the First World War, 'Goodbye to All That', and his historical study of poetic inspiration, 'The White Goddess'—have never been out of print.
Graves was born into a middle-class family in Wimbledon in south London.
He was the third of five children born to Alfred Perceval Graves (1846–1931), a school inspector.
Graves's mother was from a recently-ennobled German family, the eldest daughter of Heinrich Ranke, professor of medicine at the University of Munich, and his wife, Luise.
Graves received his early education at a series of six preparatory schools, including King's College School in Wimbledon, Penrallt in Wales, and Copthorne in West Sussex, from which last in 1909 he won a scholarship to Charterhouse.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Graves enlisted almost immediately, taking a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Graves was a close associate of the poet Siegfried Sassoon.
After the war Graves earned his living from writing, particularly popular historical novels such as 'I, Claudius', 'King Jesus', 'The Golden Fleece', and 'Count Belisarius.
He also was a prominent translator of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek texts; his versions of Sutonius' 'The Twelve Caesars' and Apulias' 'The Golden Ass' remain popular today for their clarity and entertaining style.
Graves was awarded the 1934 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for both 'I, Claudius' and 'Claudius the God'.
During the early 1970s Graves began to suffer from increasingly severe memory loss, and by his eightieth birthday in 1975 he had come to the end of his working life.
By this time he had published more than 140 works.
He survived for ten more years in an increasingly dependent condition until he died from heart failure on 7 December 1985 aged 90.
He was buried the next morning in the small churchyard on a hill at Deià, on the site of a shrine which had once been sacred to The White Goddess of Pelion.
His second wife Beryl Graves was buried with him on her own death on 27 October 2003.

'There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether as learned bard or gifted child.'

Robert  von Ranke Graves 

'Gratus proclaims Claudius Emperor'
(Detail from 'A Roman Emperor 41AD')
Lawrence Alma-Tadema


EVELYN WAUGH  (1903  – 1966)

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (28 October 1903  – 10 April 1966), known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies.
He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer.
His best-known works include his early satires 'Decline and Fall' (1928) and 'A Handful of Dust'(1934), his novel 'Brideshead Revisited' (1945) and his trilogy of 'Second World War' novels collectively known as 'Sword of Honour' (1952–61).
Waugh is widely recognised as one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century.
The son of a publisher, Waugh was educated at Lancing and Hertford College, Oxford, and worked briefly as a schoolmaster before becoming a full-time writer.
As a young man, he acquired many fashionable and aristocratic friends, and developed a taste for country house society that never left him.
In the 1930s he travelled extensively, often as a special newspaper correspondent; he was reporting from Abyssinia at the time of the 1935 Italian invasion.
He served in the British armed forces throughout the Second World War, first in the Royal Marines and later in the Royal Horse Guards.
All these experiences, and the wide range of people he encountered, were used in Waugh's fiction, generally to humorous effect; even his own mental breakdown in the early 1950s, brought about by misuse of drugs, was fictionalised.
Waugh had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1930, after the failure of his first marriage.
His traditionalist stance led him to oppose strongly all attempts to reform the Church; the changes brought about in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1962–65, particularly the introduction of the vernacular Mass, greatly disturbed him.
This blow, together with a growing dislike for the "welfare" culture of the postwar world and a decline in his health, saddened his final years, although he continued to write.
To the public at large he generally displayed a mask of indifference, but he was capable of great kindness to those he considered his friends, many of whom remained devoted to him throughout his life.
After his death in 1966, he acquired a new following through film and television versions of his work, such as 'Brideshead Revisited' in 1982.

'Brideshead Revisited'
Sebastian, Charles plus Teddy


J R R Tolkein - (1892-1973)

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works 'The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings', and 'The Silmarillion'.
Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959.
He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings.
Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.
After his death, Tolkien's son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including 'The Silmarillion'.
These, together with 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it.
Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

'The Lord of the Rings'


Douglas Adams

Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English writer and dramatist. He is best known as the author of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, and in 2005 a feature film.
Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.
Adams also wrote 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' (1987) and 'The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul' (1988), and co-wrote 'The Meaning of Liff' (1983), 'Last Chance to See' (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who.
A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as 'The Salmon of Doubt' in 2002.

Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent
'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'

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