the literary lounge

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  New Zealand-born Len Lye was an experimental animator and sculptor. He is known primarily for a series of innovative films produced in the 1930s and 40s, the earlier while working with John Grierson’s much acclaimed GPO Film Unit. A Colour Box (1935) was particularly influential – wonderful Norman McLaren took up animation full time … Continue readings

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  Night Mail, the GPO Film Unit’s 1936 documentary, seemingly had everything going for it from the start – from its directors Harry Watt and Basil Wright, narrators John Grierson and Stuart Legg to the poem that WH Auden wrote especially for it and the music score composed by a 23-year-old Benjamin Britten. The GPO … Continue readings

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  I love old Penguin books. I have an abiding passion for them: I love the look of them, the feel of them, the size of them – and, of course, most of all I love the authors Penguin, in particular under Allen Lane, chose to publish. It’s thus no surprise that my first ‘Book … Continue readings

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  The Bodley Head found itself, at the beginning of the week, sold out of ‘Penguins’, 150,000 having been sold out in four days.… — The Bookseller, 8 August 1935, a week after Penguin’s launch   In the early 1930s, Allen Lane, then director of The Bodley Head publishers, was returning from a weekend stay … Continue readings

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This review is dedicated to Elizabeth Hoyt’s new title, Duke of Midnight, the sixth and – in my opinion – best of the ‘Maiden Lane’ books. It features protagonists, Maximus, Duke of Wakefield by day, Ghost of St Giles at night, and Artemis Greaves, a lady’s companion, struggling to survive, while endeavouring to free her … Continue readings

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In a time of quite frequently over-complicated plots, with subplots and substrands in hundreds of thousands of words, it’s refreshing to read a good old-fashioned feel-good romance, in which girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl – and they live happy ever after. A garish bridesmaid dress, a Bridezilla and a plane, train … Continue readings