Oscar Wilde is a man who has cast a spell on others for almost 150 years now, something I feel would have pleased him greatly. He attracts people for many different reasons, some of which are these. He arrived at Oxford 1874, son of a revolutionary poet and a Celtic anthropologist both famous throughout Ireland, … More Oscar Hero
When mathematics prodigy Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) took up photography in 1856 during his long residency at Christ Church, Oxford, he little dreamed he would make himself a controversial figure to critics in the sex soaked 1990s and 2000s, when the term pedophile was readily applied to him. One of Carroll’s nude studies, of Beatrice … More Lewis Carroll’s children
For those who know, and don’t tell, those who don’t know but who can find out, and for those like me who just don’t know. The first question is for those with a financial background who don’t do literature. 1. How much money did Shakespeare make? Did he sell his copyright in the best selling … More A Shakespeare Quiz
Two books on Leonardo I’ve read recently show no doubt that Leonardo was a practising homosexual. Nicoll is in no doubt: he says “obviously” homosexual if I remember correctly (Charles Nicholl, Leonardo, Viking 2004). Isaacson thinks likewise, perhaps more cautiously (Walter Isaacson, Leonardo, Simon & Schuster, 2017). Many other modern writers think the same, following … More Leonardo da Vinci: homosexual?
We are all of us products of our heredity and environment (or nature and nurture if you prefer). But while most of us muddle along, some few react so strongly against nature and/or nurture that something extraordinary happens. Creativity is born, new ideas are expressed: and some of these ideas change the world. In what … More Hidden motives
Towards the end of the 18th century in Europe there was a vogue for secret societies. Groups such as the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians were active, with agendas they felt needed to be kept secret from the authorities, who were uniformly reactionary. One of these groups was the Illuminati, originating in Bavaria in 1776 and … More Illuminati
I’m a great admirer of Somerset Maugham, though I’ve only read his short stories and Of Human Bondage. I’m reading the stories now for the second time and find them even better than I remembered. I picked up another title by Maugham, called Books and You. Maugham here sets out to define one of the … More Reading matters