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  Labor & Labour  ·  Labour Party (GB)  ·  Ladder  ·  Lady  ·  Lake & Lake Monsters  ·  Land  ·  Language  ·  Laos  ·  Las Vegas  ·  Last Words  ·  Latin  ·  Laugh & Laughter  ·  Law & Lawyer (I)  ·  Law & Lawyer (II)  ·  Laws of Physics & Science  ·  Lazy & Laziness  ·  Leader & Leadership  ·  Learner & Learning  ·  Lebanon & Lebanese  ·  Lecture & Lecturer  ·  Left Wing  ·  Leg  ·  Leisure  ·  Lend & Lender & Lending  ·  Leprosy  ·  Lesbian & Lesbianism  ·  Letter  ·  Ley Lines  ·  Libel  ·  Liberal & Liberal Party  ·  Liberia  ·  Liberty  ·  Library  ·  Libya & Libyans  ·  Lies & Liar (I)  ·  Lies & Liar (II)  ·  Life & Search For Life (I)  ·  Life & Search For Life (II)  ·  Life After Death  ·  Life's Like That (I)  ·  Life's Like That (II)  ·  Life's Like That (III)  ·  Light  ·  Lightning & Ball Lightning  ·  Like  ·  Limericks  ·  Lincoln, Abraham  ·  Lion  ·  Listen & Listener  ·  Literature  ·  Little  ·  Liverpool  ·  Loan  ·  Local & Civic Government  ·  Loch Ness Monster  ·  Lockerbie Bombing  ·  Logic  ·  London (I)  ·  London (II)  ·  London (III)  ·  Lonely & Loneliness  ·  Look  ·  Lord  ·  Los Angeles  ·  Lose & Loss & Lost  ·  Lot (Bible)  ·  Lottery  ·  Louisiana  ·  Love & Lover  ·  Loyalty  ·  LSD & Acid  ·  Lucifer  ·  Luck & Lucky  ·  Luke (Bible)  ·  Lunacy & Lunatic  ·  Lunar Society  ·  Lunch  ·  Lungs  ·  Lust  ·  Luxury  

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Agatha Christie’s England TV - John Healy - Barbaric Genius TV - The Grass Arena 1991 - Profile: J G Ballard TV - George Washington - Alan Bennett - Cassandra Clare - Gustave Flaubert - Pat Conroy - Vladimir Nabokov - Melvyn Bragg TV - Simon Schama TV - Adam Nicholson TV - Oscar Wilde - Christopher Hitchens - Andrew Graham-Dixon TV - George Orwell - Terry Eagleton - Martin Amis - Henry Hitchings TV - Faulks on Fiction TV - Robert Winston TV - Helen Keller - Thomas Hardy - G K Chesterton - The Secret World of Lewis Carroll TV - D H Lawrence - Ezra Pound - Joseph Heller - Robert Louis Stevenson - George Borrow - Edward George Bulwer-Lytton - Antonin Artaud - A S Byatt - Jacques Derrida - Sinclair Lewis - Samuel Johnson - Shadowlands 1993 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Alastair Sooke TV - F R Leavis - C P Snow - Joseph Brodsky - Confucius - Thomas de Quincey - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Samuel Lover - Edgar Allan Poe: Love Death & Woman TV - Wodehouse in Exile TV - The Culture Show TV - Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats TV - D H Lawrence: A Journey Without Shame TV - F Scott Fitzgerald - Jane Yolan - Boris Pasternak - Salman Rushdie - P T Barnum - Thomas Carlyle - The Casual Vacancy TV - Thornton Wilder - Irvine Welsh - Lucy Worsley TV - Ford Madox Ford - Armandos Tale of Charles Dickens TV - Great Britons H2 - Sylvia Plath: Inside the Bell Jar TV - Barneys Books & Bust-Ups TV - Arthur Miller: A Writer TV - Imagine … Philip Roth Unleashed TV - Arena TV - George Orwell: A Life in Pictures TV - Ovid: The Poet & The Emperor TV - The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On TV - Bill Buckley - Akala’s Odyssey TV - Novels that Shaped Our World TV - Lydia Wilson: The Secret History of Writing TV - The Important of Being Oscar TV - D H Lawrence: Sex, Exile and Greatness TV - Classic Literature & Cinema TV - Ken Burns: Hemingway TV - Evelyn Waugh: Face to Face TV - Thomas Hardy: Fate, Exclusion & Tragedy TV - Frankenstein: A Modern Myth TV - Chinua Achebe -               

 

 

 

There was no more quintessentially English writer than Agatha Christie.  Through her sensational murder mysteries she created a literary universe that captured our national spirit like no-one before or since.  The magical worlds where she set her stories are in fact drawn from real places.  Agatha Christie’s England, Channel 5 2021

 

Born 1890 in the Devon town of Torquay.  The youngest to three children she lived a charmed life thanks to her American fathers large inheritance.  ibid.

 

She introduced the world to Miss Marple when she published The Murder at the Vicarage.  ibid.

 

In 1920 Agatha published her debut novel: The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  The lead character was the now iconic Belgium detective Hercules Poirot.   ibid.

 

‘Agatha absolutely abhorred the loss of empire, the changing attitudes to British dominance over the world.  This big change in social values, the class system.’  ibid.  J C Bernthal, Agatha Christie scholar      

 

Arguably the biggest writer of the Twentieth Century.  ibid.

 

 

I hate these academics that get praise, and theyre shallow.  Its all smug and bullshit.  [Ian] McEwan and [Martin] Amis and all them.  Middle-class mafia … They can buy their way to a lifelong competitive advantage over the uneducated and poor.  This middle-class business, its the only place in the world where its really strong because it comes right down from the Queen.  Its a nepotistic way British society is run.  They dont draw from the whole gene pool, like America.  Thats why you get good writers in America.  Theres never been any great writers here in England, not in the last century.  Look at Kingsley Amis.  You cant believe in the characters he writes about.  And the experiences he attributes to them.  And yet they made him a Sir.  Theyre disgusting people really.  It can be treacherous, the publishing world.  John Healy, interview May 2012

 

 

The Cuirt Festival is renowned for risk, but do the daredevils of Galway know what it means to invite John Healy, the author of The Grass Arena?  Barbaric Genius, Observer 9th April 2007, Sky Arts 2012

 

I had a very violent childhood.  ibid.  John

 

It’s a mental opiate – chess.  ibid.

 

‘There are no tomorrows.  Tomorrow can’t be relied upon to come.  Each day you have to prove yourself anew – stealing, fighting, begging and drinking.’  ibid.  John Healy’s The Grass Arena

 

In 2008 The Grass Arena was brought back into print by Penguin Books.  ibid.

 

During his chess career John won ten international chess tournaments.  ibid.

 

The Grass Arena was published in 1988 by Faber & Faber to immediate acclaim.  ibid.

 

The Grass Arena was to remain out of print and unobtainable for fifteen years.  ibid.

 

John Healy’s first book in twenty years Coffee House Chess Tactics was published in August 2010 by a Dutch publisher.  The Metal Mountain and The Glass Cage remain unpublished.  ibid.  

 

 

I never knew what a tyrant was, or how I’d become one.  The Grass Arena 1991 ***** starring Peter Postlethwaite & Mark Rylance & Lynsey Baxter & Marian McLoughlin & Andrew Dicks & Billy Boyle & Nick Dawney & Simon Napper & John Garrett & Brian Hall & Gerard Horan et al, director Gillies MacKinnon

 

What’s it gonna be, Johnny, drinking or boxing?  Stop drinking, or you won’t get to box as a pro.  ibid.  bloke after fight

 

Been fighting.  Naah, not out there – in the ring, proper.  It don’t half take it out of you, throwing punches, ducking ’em, even when you’re winning.  ibid.  John to woman in café  

 

Same faces but they’re all sober.  ibid.  bloke in Nick

 

This won’t hurt a bit; it’ll stop you wanting a drink.  ibid.  nurse

 

Listen, if I told you about a game … it’s more like a battle, an old-day warfare – it’s called chess.  ibid.  bloke in nick

 

When you’re in the parks, mum, you’ve got to live their way or die.  ibid.  John

 

Most of the inhabitants of the grass arena have since died.  John Healy is now an acclaimed author.  ibid.

 

 

But for brilliant writer J G Ballard, this suburban sprawl is as provocative in its way as Tahiti was for Gauguin or Dublin for James Joyce.  This, believe it or not, is a land of dreams.  Profile: J G Ballard, BBC 2003

 

‘Disquieting diorama of pain and mutilation.  Strange sexual wounds, imaginary Vietnam atrocities …’  ibid.  Atrocity Exhibition

 

In his next novel Crash, Ballard followed this route to a shocking destination.  A work which contrived the disturbing pile-up between sexual arousal and crumpled bodywork.  ibid.

 

‘Throwing a literary bomb into a rather smug you know cafeteria.’  ibid.  Ballard 

 

 

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature.  Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.  George Washington 

 

 

The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature.  Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not.  All readers were equal, herself included.  Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.  Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader

 

 

Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.  Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel 

 

 

The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.  Gustave Flaubert 

 

 

The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave anything out.  I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language.  Pat Conroy

 

 

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.  My sin, my soul.  Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth.  Lo.  Lee.  Ta.  Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955

 

You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.  ibid.

 

 

I loved it.  Especially the stories.  This Bible was originally published in 1611.  It aimed to take the Protestant faith to the English speaking world and it did.  Hundreds of millions of copies have been printed over the last four hundred years.  But there were radical unexpected consequences.  You may think our modern world is founded on secular ideals.  But I think that the King James’ version not only influenced the English language and literature more than any other book, it was also the seed-bed of Western democracy.  Melvyn Bragg, The King James Bible: The Book that Charged the World, BBC 2011

 

 

One of the epic American novels of the twentieth century, The Grapes of Wrath.  Melvyn Bragg, John Steinbeck: Voice of America, BBC 2013

 

His range was vast and his output prolific.  ibid.

 

In The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck describes the natural disaster which befell the farmers as a catastrophe of Biblical proportions.  ibid.

 

Of Mice and Men which follows the fortunes of two itinerant fruit tramps, Lennie and George ...  ibid.

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