Sunday, 28 February 2016


Henry James  was  an American writer who lived in England for a long time, and dealt with English society in much of his fiction. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James.
He died  100 years ago, on  28 February 1916.  

Here you can read about his life and works in detail.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has died at age 89 yesterday.
Born on April 28, 1926, she grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, where she was close friends with Truman Capote (whom she would later help with his work on In Cold Blood). Her father was a lawyer, like Atticus Finch, the hero of  To Kill a Mockingbird.
She published it in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize the following year. The 1962 film adaptation starring Gregory Peck won three Academy Awards.
The book became a beloved classic and a mainstay on assigned reading lists, but Harper Lee turned away from public life, and it seemed unlikely she would publish again. In 2007, she suffered a stroke that led to long-term health issues, which made it even more of a surprise in 2015 when her publisher, HarperCollins, announced it would publish a manuscript found in a safe deposit box that had served as an origin point for To Kill a Mockingbird; that book, Go Set a Watchman, became an instant bestseller last summer, despite controversy as to whether she had been capable of consenting to its publication.
The new book catches up with the characters two decades later; Scout Finch is a young woman living in New York City (as Harper Lee once did), home on a visit to her family. Atticus, once a champion for civil rights in the courtroom, now takes part in anti-integrationist meetings, to his daughter’s horror and disappointment. Many readers were disappointed by a depiction of Atticus as a racist, tainting the character’s image in the popular imagination as a pioneer for equality.

Here you can read TIME's original review of  To Kill a Mockingbird.
Here you can read the novel and you can find an exhaustive analysis of the plot, characters and themes here.

"Mockingbird still says what it has to say; it has managed to survive the years without preamble.” 
Harper Lee, 1993

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Born in London, England, on October 31, 1795, John Keats devoted his short life to the perfection of poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. In 1818 he went on a walking tour in the Lake District. His exposure and overexertion on that trip brought on the first symptoms of the tuberculosis, which ended his life. Continue reading here.

Sunday, 7 February 2016


Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England, on February 7, 1812, to John and Elizabeth Dickens. He was the second of eight children. His father worked as a clerk for the Naval Pay office and was imprisoned for debt when Charles was young. Charles Dickens went to work at a blacking warehouse, managed by a relative of his mother, when he was twelve, and his brush with hard times and poverty affected him deeply. Continue reading here.

Here you can watch the British television film adapted from Charles Dickens's novel  The Old Curiosity Shop It was first broadcast on 26 December 2007 on ITV.

“Charles Dickens excelled in character; in the creation of characters of greater intensity than human beings.”  
T.S. Eliot 

Saturday, 6 February 2016


Read here a very useful article about speaking English as a foreign language.

Monday, 1 February 2016


"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it  is the time for home."  Edith Sitwell