Shakespeare: Prospero’s revels and As You Like It

April 23 is believed to be the birthday of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and this is also the day he died. So it’s time to recall some of my favourite lines from Shakespeare, recited by the actor John Gielgud, and then keep my date with my Shakespearean heroine, Rosalind, in a wonderful, playful love scene from […]

Shakespeare’s birthday and St George’s Day

Google.co.uk is running this image’s day. It’s St George’s Day — and traditionally celebrated as Shakespeare’s birthday, too. The Writer’s Almanac reminds us why it’s celebrated as Shakespeare’s birthday: Today we celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare, born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (1564 -1616). We don’t know his birthday for sure, but he was baptized on […]

I can hear music

I love the Beach Boys' song, I Can Hear Music. The ardour of young love and the sweet harmony capture all that is beautiful in life. Yes, it's just a teenage love song, but listen to the jangling guitars, insistent beat and plaintive voices. Isn't that what life is all about: wishing and hoping and, […]

Martin Amis on life and Kingsley Amis

Martin Amis (left) describes seeing his father, Kingsley Amis (below), in a dream in his autobiography, Experience. Published in 2000, five years after his father's death, it's one of the most intimate accounts of a father-and-son relationship that I have ever read. He writes: Why should I tell the story of my life? I do […]

Shakespeare’s bawdy

William Shakespeare was baptized on this day in 1564 and what a life he led before he died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616. He explored love and sex in his plays with a detailed vividness that leaves Masters and Johnson looking pretty skimpy, writes Simon Callow in the Guardian. The Elizabethans […]

Shakespeare: Much ado about love

It's that day of the year when we remember William Shakespeare. Here's a link to the most famous scene from my wife's favourite play —– Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth in the sleepwalking scene. But give me the romantic comedies any day. Boy meets, boy gets girl, and they live happily ever after. Just watch […]

On Julia’s Clothes and 99 other most popular poems

This must be one of the shortest, heavily anthologized poems in the English language. On Julia's Clothes, by Robert Herrick, runs to only six lines. But, witty and playful, this 17th century poem is one of the 100 most anthologized poems in the English language, according to the Columbia Granger's World of Poetry. Here are […]

Shakespeare in love: The youth and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets

Shakespeare's sonnets are the greatest love poems in English literature, says The Times. And they are mostly homoerotic, says Bill Bryson in his book, Shakespeare. That makes them all the more remarkable. For, let's not forget, as late as 1960 Penguin Books was tried for obscenity when it published Lady Chatterley's Lover in Britain. Shakespeare's […]