Neil Rathmell – writer

150+ essays on literary topics

Just an ordinary man

Shakespeare drew on various sources for the plot of King Lear, but what he made of them was a play about growing old, based on people he knew. If we … Continue reading

February 10, 2021 · 1 Comment

Again! Again!

It is a refrain familiar to parents who read bedtime stories to their children. A familiar story can never be heard often enough and must be told as nearly as … Continue reading

January 27, 2021 · Leave a comment

No such thing as Shakespearean tragedy

The best actors  in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. … Continue reading

January 13, 2021 · Leave a comment

Vladimir Nabokov’s way with words

Joseph Conrad, born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, is widely admired as a master of English prose, which is all the more remarkable since his first language was Polish and his … Continue reading

December 30, 2020 · Leave a comment

Did Shakespeare believe in fairies?

Fairies appear only twice in Shakespeare’s plays, first in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an early play, his first masterpiece, then in The Tempest, his last. The plays have a lot … Continue reading

December 16, 2020 · Leave a comment

Rupert Brooke, playwright

Rupert Brooke’s range is wider than he is usually given credit for, both in form and content. Lust, an early poem about sex, consensual or otherwise, begins with the usual … Continue reading

December 2, 2020 · Leave a comment

Why do people find Chekhov boring?

The short answer is that in Chekhov’s plays nothing happens. His subject is boredom. Nobody actually says, as Estragon says at the beginning of Waiting for Godot, “Nothing to be … Continue reading

November 17, 2020 · Leave a comment

The novel of the film

Water by Bapsi Sidhwa is the novel of the film by Deepa Mehta. ‘The film of the novel’ is a much more familiar phrase, the subject of many discussions about … Continue reading

November 6, 2020 · Leave a comment

Period drama

Period drama has been a staple of British television for as long as anyone can remember. Classic novels of the past, including nearly everything by Charles Dickens, have been dramatised … Continue reading

October 21, 2020 · Leave a comment

Shakespeare’s only one act play

A Yorkshire Tragedy is not one of Shakespeare’s better known plays. It was listed in the Stationers’ Register in 1608 as a play by William Shakespeare first performed by the … Continue reading

October 7, 2020 · Leave a comment