Staffordshire – ‘England in little’

Staffordshire – ‘England in little’ Arnold Bennett opens his 1908 novel Old Wives’ Tale describing the “natural, simple county” surrounding his Five Towns – a quiet countryside containing “everything that England has”, from hideous industry to Arcadian tranquillity. Staffordshire, he emotes, “is England in little, lost in the midst of England, unsung” – and all… Continue reading

Dr. Johnson in Scotland – An Englishman in his Near Abroad

DR. JOHNSON IN SCOTLAND –  AN ENGLISHMAN IN HIS NEAR ABROAD Samuel Johnson was nearly sixty-four when he made an unexpected journey. One day in 1773, the internationally-renowned lexicographer, essayist, poet, and novelist, who somehow combined being one of the great thinkers of Europe with being a personification of bluff Englishness, suddenly switched his great… Continue reading

Me on Dr. Johnson in the Hebrides

Latest article for Chronicles – “An Englishman in his Near Abroad” The August issue of Chronicles has my article on Samuel Johnson’s celebrated trip to the Hebrides – seven pages of Pictish/Celtic legend, Culdees, Vikings, golden eagles, sea-storms, and of course the great man at his most relaxed and clubbable. Not available on line, so you will need… Continue reading