824. English essays
John Berger Selected Essays, 2003.
English art critic, painter, and novelist John Berger writes essays on such varied subjects as Picasso’s paintings and classic Disney films. His work is by turns appreciative and dark. His book Ways of Seeing is often used as a textbook on art in college courses.
Zadie Smith Feel Free: Essays, 2018.
Zadie Smith gathers this collection of her essays into five sections: In the world, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free. Her wry and insightful comments bring our shared culture, triumphs, and failures into sharp focus.
828. English miscellaneous writings
Jackson Bate Samuel Johnson: A Biography, 1977.
Literary critic W. Jackson Bate provides the first modern biography of 18th-century intellectual giant Samuel Johnson. Examining both Johnson’s life and works, Bate determines that the esteemed man’s pronouncements on literature, politics, religion, and behavior are just as relevant today as they were in Johnson’s time.
Vera Brittain Testament of Youth, 1933.
British writer Vera Brittain left Oxford in 1915 to become a nurse in World War I. This classic memoir documents her time in London, Malta, and the Western Front during the war. And she reflects on how the war took the lives of many of the people she was closest to. Her account is a classic memoir documenting the time.
Leo Damrosch The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, 2019.
Leo Damrosch shares the world of 18th century London, where “The Club” met every Friday. The group included James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, and painter Joshua Reynolds. Eventually, it expanded to include Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and Edward Gibbon. They met at the Turk’s Head Tavern to eat, drink, and talk until midnight.
Eleanor Fitzsimons Wilde’s Women: How Oscar Wilde Was Shaped by the Women He Knew 2016.
Social mores in the Victorian era were notoriously stuffy. Irish writer Oscar Wilde was a libertine who defended gender equality, which attracted many female fans. Researcher Eleanor Fitzsimons looks at the primary women in his life, including family members, colleagues, and celebrities of the day. It’s a revealing look at a little-known part of Wilde’s life.
Richard Holmes Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage, 1996.
Biographer Richard Holmes delves into the relationship between 18th-century author and intellectual Samuel Johnson and a mysterious figure named Richard Savage, who was later the subject of a Johnson biography titled The Life of Richard Savage. Savage was an enigma to many: a poet, playwright, and convicted murderer. His influence on a young, naive Johnson changed the course of British literature.
Somerset Maugham A Writer’s Notebook, 1949.
William Somerset Maugham eschewed the experimental modernist literature popularized during his era by writers like William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf. Instead, Maugham wrote plainly and accessibly. These notebooks, beginning when he was 18 years old in 1892, until 1949, provide a peek into his mind.
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