Jane Austen’s unfinished novel comes to the stage

Published in The New York Times on November 6, 2018

What happens to a novel’s characters when their author abandons them? I spoke to British playwright Laura Wade about bringing “The Watsons,” an unfinished novel by Jane Austen, to the stage, in a piece for the New York Times. Continue reading “Jane Austen’s unfinished novel comes to the stage”

The art of the ménage à trois

Published in BBC Culture on November 7, 2018

Brangelina, Kimye, Hiddleswift… you could be forgiven for thinking the celebrity portmanteau name was an invention of the 21st Century. But today’s creative couples surely have nothing on the delightful ‘PaJaMa’: an amalgam of Paul Cadmas, Jared French and Margaret French, to reflect the interdependence of their relationship and artistic practice. From 1937 on, they lived as a polyamorous trio for 20 years. Continue reading “The art of the ménage à trois”

How LSD influenced Western culture

Published in BBC Culture on October 17, 2018

When you think of LSD, a very specific aesthetic probably leaps to mind: the psychedelic pink-and-orange swirls of the 60s; naked people with flowers in their hair; the shimmer of a sitar. After its psychedelic properties were accidentally discovered in the lab by Albert Hofmann in 1943, the drug was banned in the UK in 1966. LSD is still most strongly associated with hippies who embraced its mind-expanding properties. Continue reading “How LSD influenced Western culture”

Review: Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die, Amber Massie-Blomfield

Published in The TLS on August 22, 2018

In 2016, the arts producer Amber Massie-Blomfield began “plotting an adventure”: a freewheeling trip around Britain’s “most remarkable” theatres. Each would need to have an unusual story, or a distinctive setting. Continue reading “Review: Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die, Amber Massie-Blomfield”

Meg Wolitzer’s #metoo novel sets the stage for a generational clash of feminism styles

Published in The i on June 30, 2018

The Female Persuasion begins with an event that might have gone unremarked on a few years ago, but in 2018, seems almost absurdly topical: a young student, Greer, is groped at a party. Several girls come forward with similar allegations, but the offender gets off with an apology. Greer is appalled; an activist spark is ignited. Continue reading “Meg Wolitzer’s #metoo novel sets the stage for a generational clash of feminism styles”

Poet Caleb Femi was shot and almost killed as a teenager. His play reveals how reading Frankenstein gave him new life

Published in The Independent on June 1, 2018

“I beheld the miserable monster whom I had created…” Goldfish Bowl, the new play by Caleb Femi – former young people’s laureate for London – opens with this quote from Frankenstein – the moment the monster comes to life. Continue reading “Poet Caleb Femi was shot and almost killed as a teenager. His play reveals how reading Frankenstein gave him new life”

Sarah Perry on sexism in publishing, why we don’t need ‘strong female characters’, and inventing her own gothic monster

Published in The Independent on May 21, 2018

“I genuinely don’t really remember writing the book.”

It’s a bold admission for an author to make when discussing their forthcoming novel. Especially if you’re a bestseller like Sarah Perry, whose debut, After Me Comes the Flood, was critically acclaimed, and whose follow-up, The Essex Serpent, was a big fat hit. Continue reading “Sarah Perry on sexism in publishing, why we don’t need ‘strong female characters’, and inventing her own gothic monster”

The women poets taking over the world

Published in BBC Culture on July 14, 2017

Poetry. Does the word make you think of rarefied tomes on dusty bookshelves, po-faced readings with glasses of warm white wine, or trudging dutifully through homework? It shouldn’t. Poetry is exploding in popularity: igniting Instagram, streaming on Spotify, being shared on Twitter and going viral on YouTube. Continue reading “The women poets taking over the world”