Tuesday, 9 December 2008

New on my shelves. . .

Here are a bunch of mostly new, mostly non-fiction books I've recently acquired for the "era shelves" and that I hope to dip into over the holidays.

Survivors' Songs: From Maldon to the Somme by Jon Stallworthy. I like the premise of this book - setting WWI poetry in the context of historical war poetry and I think this will prompt some new thinking about Owen, Sassoon, Brooke etc.

Because You Died: Poetry and Prose of the First World War and After by Vera Brittain, edited by Mark Bostridge. I once had high hopes of doing a PhD on Vera Brittain, but alas, I had a reality rent check/cheque. I still try to read everything I can on her and while I've never thought her poetry particularly strong, this volume has some excellent essays and a lot of photographs that I'd never come across before. And because the Stallworthy doesn't discuss women poets at all.

West End Women: Women and the London Stage 1918-1962 by Maggie Gale. I first got interested in female playwrights during the early part of the 20th century when I was studying the suffrage movement and the work of writers such as Cicely Hamilton. Clemence Dane is another playwright whose work I enjoy and whose play Wild December I encountered while writing a paper on how plays about the Bronte sisters' lives was all the vogue in the 1920s. Dane was also a good friend of Noel Coward and is said to have inspired Madame Arcati, in his play Blithe Spirit (I love it when all my various interests come together). So I definitely need to know more about this time and I'm sure this book will have me scurrying to find copies of plays now relegated to dusty obscurity.

Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. This is a contemporary play about British suffragists imprisoned in Holloway in 1913. The play got mixed reviews when it was running in London but I still want to read it. It will be interesting to compare it with the text of a play that I did see in Toronto - Linda Griffiths' Age of Arousal - loosely based on George Gissing's The Odd Women.

And finally, keeping with the theatre theme, I've also got a copy of Michael Holroyd's A Strange Eventful History - his new biography of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their various troubled offspring. I love Holroyd's writing; his biography of Lytton Strachey really made an impact on me about fifteen years ago when I read it. I'm particularly interested in learning more about Terry's daughter Edy Craig who was a member of the Actresses' Franchise League along with Cicely Hamilton and who founded the feminist Pioneer Players theatre company.
One book leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another. . .

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