The Wool-gatherer is the pseudonym of Hugh Parry. I have taught literature courses in adult education for around 30 years. A few of my victims have been with me for much, or even all, of that time. Leaving aside the personal pleasure of this, a professional advantage is that I have always needed to look … Continue reading Welcome to the blog!
Letters from famous people have been avidly collected for more than 2,000 years. Many of those treasured in Greek and Roman libraries had as much authenticity as the Hitler diaries; graphology had not been invented, and forgers drove a lucrative trade. I don’t possess a sheet of Basildon Bond on which Paul McCartney confides his … Continue reading SECOND CLASS MAIL
As some readers will know, I have recently given a course on ‘Shakespeare’s Bit-Parts’. This was intended as a tribute to his generosity in giving even the lesser members of the acting company something interesting and worthwhile to do. Here are a few more tiny roles which I didn’t have time for:___________________Richard II is a … Continue reading A HANDFUL OF SHAKESPEARE CAMEOS
MARKED FOR LOVE Shakespeare greatly enjoyed itemising the absurdities of demeanour and appearance adopted by lovers – the male variety – and I thought I would gather some of these together. Feel free to do the actions as you read. We begin with two cheeky page-boys: sharp observers of adult manners, but pre-pubescent themselves, so … Continue reading A LITTLE ADO ABOUT NOTHING
It is my belief that The Taming of the Shrew and The Comedy of Errors should be considered together, as deliberate parallel portrayals of women who display unreasonable independence in the former case and unreasonable possessiveness in the latter. These apparently opposing characteristics in fact cause them both to chafe at social conventions which they … Continue reading Take no chances with the crackling
A play called The Taming of A Shrew, which has a relationship to The Shrew that has spilt pools of critical ink, shadows the better-known story quite closely, but the famous or infamous finale in which Kate expresses submission to her husband stresses the supposed Biblical basis for male superiority: women have had to be … Continue reading THE DUTY OF A TAME SHREW
Theophrastus (c.370-285 BC) was a pupil of Aristotle, and ran the Academy after his master’s death, which made him in his day perhaps the leading philosophical guru in Greece. Yet he is known now almost exclusively for what seem to be a set of scrappy lecture notes or even sketches for an in-house revue, later … Continue reading THEY’RE ALL GREEK TO ME
I have been asked, or challenged, to make some sense of Dylan Thomas’s notorious ‘Altarwise by owl-light’. My original notes seem to have disappeared, but I can try to reconstruct and rethink them, which is only fair, since I have tantalised both Aberystwyth and Parcevall Hall with a discussion of the poem which didn’t materialise. … Continue reading ALTARWISE BY OWL-LIGHT