the literary lounge

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“‘Some girls marry because they want to, because they’ve found the man they want to go through life with, but most marry because they have no other choice. A single woman has very few options in this world, so for many women it’s a compromise. They marry for security, for wealth or position, and the … Continue readings

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  Once you have kept a Siamese cat you would never have any other kind. They make wonderful pets and are so intelligent they follow you around like little dogs.”   Perhaps a tiny bit of stretch, Vivien Leigh, while not a writer herself per se, is so completely embedded in the public psyche as … Continue readings

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is one of the most influential pieces of 20th-century literature, as well as being a masterpiece in its own right. Since its original publication, it has been reprinted, translated, repackaged and reformatted countless times in striking editions, with just as striking jackets. For me, though, the first Random House book, published … Continue readings

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  Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art – Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night And watching, with eternal lids apart, Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores, Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask Of snow upon the … Continue readings

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‘They drove by the level road along the valley to a distance of a few miles, and, reaching Wellbridge, turned away from the village to the left, and over the great Elizabethan bridge which gives the place half its name. Immediately behind it stood the house wherein they had engaged lodgings, whose exterior features are … Continue readings

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  ‘Detective Mallory just called. She shut down the play.’… Axel Clayborne scanned his new lines. ‘Did she say why?’ ‘Bad behavior,’ said Cyril. ‘Too many dead bodies in the audience.’ The actor nodded. ‘I suppose last night was overkill.’ –It Happens in the Dark, p. 120   Modern crime fiction is a wondrous thing. … Continue readings

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  Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.” – EM Forster   I love letters. I love writing them. I love receiving them. I really appreciate a good letter: you can tell so much from it, … Continue readings

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  Winston plays the blues. Eyes squeezed shut, head thrown back, chin raised to the sky, the notes dance around in Winston’s head before he breathes them out into the cavernous room, where the crowd sits mesmerised. He is a magician, weaving his spell of ‘Bags’ Groove’; his trumpet is his wand.   His last … Continue readings

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“I was sure I saw that knife go into you. The villain had to tug to retrieve it. But it was that.” She looked down and made a small exclamation. “It’s been cut.” She opened the reticule, examing the contents and took out a small, leather-bound book. She held it up so that he could … Continue readings

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  ‘No matter where I lived, I read. I devoured whatever I could get my hands on,’ Anne Gracie says.   An award-winning historical-romance writer, Anne was born into a family of ‘chalkies’ (‘teachers’ in Aussie slang), who moved around a lot when Anne was a children. She spent a lot of time outside playing … Continue readings

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  Master of Hammer, Witchfinder General and the weak-chinned lover of the female protagonist in Otto Preminger’s original and magnificent film noir Laura (1944), actor Vincent Price informs our cultural consciousness. But how many of us know that Price was the Master Chef of his time? A bon vivant and gourmand, Price not only loved … Continue readings

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New Orleans-born Elizabeth Hoyt is a best-selling New York Times novelist. The author of 15 historical and 2 contemporary romances (the latter as Julia Harper), she recently published Duke of Midnight, the sixth book in the acclaimed ‘Maiden Lane’ series, set in 18th-century London. Elizabeth was brought up in St Pauls, Minnesota, and travelled extensively … Continue readings

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Mary Jo Putney is a leading historical-romance writer. The recipient of many awards, ‘MJP’, as she is known affectionately to her fans, won the prestigious RWA Nora Roberts’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Born in Upstate New York, Mary Jo developed a love of reading at an early age. Her favourite authors included Georgette Heyer, … Continue readings

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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