Archive for the period drama Category

The Bronte, Pooh, Poe, Briggs birthday party!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, BRONTE, Inspiring poetry, period drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by echostains

No sooner do I begin writing about one author whose birthday it is, –  another pops up!   Over the past three days Anne Bronte, A.A. Milne, Raymond Briggs and Edgar Allen Poe have all celebrated  birthdays, or to be exact, they have had their birthdays celebrated for them – apart from Raymond Briggs who at 78, is still with us.

Anne Bronte

January 17th was  the birthday of writer and poet Anne Bronte (1820 –  1849 Thornton Yorkshire)   Anne, was the youngest of 6 children born to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell. She was barely one year old when her mother died. Anne wrote 2 books in her short lifetime (Agnes Grey which was published in 1847 and The Tenent of Wildfell Hall published 1848) and a  lot of poetry.  Much has been written about the Bronte family, their story is well-known.  This website is dedicated to Anne and includes all her poems and a biography.  But this beautiful poem, a tribute to the simple flower, the bluebell  could almost be a metaphor for the author’s life,  made poignant by her sad death at the age of 29.  She is buried in Scarborough – her favorite place.

Read my review about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall here

18th January saw the birthday of British children’s author Alan Alexander Milne  (1882 –  1956) the author best known for his books about Winnie the Pooh and children’s poems.

A.A. Milne

Born in Kilburn,  London, Milne  grew up at Henley House school,  a small public school ran by his father.  One of his teachers was H. G. Wells (who taught there 1889 – 1890).  The young Milne attended Westminsterschool and Trinity College Cambridge, where he studied mathematics.  Whilst at Cambridge, he edited and wrote for the student magazine Granta.  His collaborated on articles with his brother Kenneth  and caught the attention of Punch magazine.  Milne went on to be a contributor and later, assistant editor.

He married Dorothy “Daphne” de Sélincourt in 1913 and in 1920 Christopher Robin Milne was born.  Milne bought Cotchford farm in East Sussex in 1925. He joined the army in World War 1, serving as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later, after a debilitating illness, the Royal Corps of Signals. He was discharged on February 14, 1919 .  During World War 11 Milne was Captain of the Home Guard in Hartfield Forest Row.  In 1952 he had a stroke and had to undergo brain surgery.  He retired to his farm an invalid.

Milne published 18 plays and 3 novels and in 1924 produced a collection of children’s poetry called When We Were Very Young, this was illustrated by Punch illustrator E. H. Shepherd.  Milne was also a screen writer for the British film industry (founded in 1920).  But it is the two Pooh books which Milne is most famous for.

The books feature a boy named Christopher Robin (after Milnes’ son).  The characters in the book were inspired by Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys – the most noteworthy being the bear named ‘Winnie the Pooh’.  The bear was originally called ‘Edward’ but was renamed ‘Winnie the Pooh’ after a Canadian black bear called ‘Winnie’ (after Winnipeg) used as a military mascot in World War 1 and was left to London Zoo during the war.  The ‘Pooh’ comes from a swan of the same name.’

Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926. A second collection of nursery rhymes Now we are Six was published in 1927 and was followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928 and were all illustrated by E. H. Shepherd.  For a more in-depth look at this author please look here and this website and there are lots of Pooh related information to be found here

The author Raymond Briggs also shares his birthday with A.A. Milne.  Briggs was born in 1934 Wimbledon London.  He is a graphic artist, novelist and illustrator.  though he is best known for his story The Snowman, shown every Christmas in cartoon form on television, he has illustrated many children’s books.

Briggs liked to cartoon at an early age, even though his father tried to dissuade him from what he saw as an unprofitable pursuit.  He attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 – 1953 studying painting, then the Central School of Art to study typography.

In 1953 he became a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals, based at Catterick, where he was made a draughtsman.  He returned to study painting at Slade School fo Fine Art after 2 years of National Service where he graduated in 1957.

He briefly painted before becoming a professional illustrator, and soon began working on children’s books.  He taught illustration part-time at Brighton College of Art between 1961 and 1986

His famous works include Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas goes on Holiday (1975) which both featured a rather grumpy Father Christmas and Fungus the Bogeyman (1977).  These were in the form of comics, rather than the typical children’s book format where the text is separate to the illustrations.

Briggs has said that The Snowman (1978) was inspired by Fungus the Bogeyman;-

For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so… I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick.

This work was entirely wordless and illustrated only with pencil crayons, which I feel lends it charm and spontaneity. In 1982 The Snowman was made into a Oscar nominated animated cartoon, becoming Briggs best known work and much-loved by all who see it.  It is shown every year on British television  and Christmas would not be the same without it!  For a more in-depth look at the author and his life try this and the charming Snowman website here

19th January saw the birthday of celebrated Amercian author, editor, poet and literary critic  Edgar Allan Poe (b. Boston Massachusetts) USA 1809 – 1849)  Poe is famous for his tales of the macabre and mystery.  He is considered an early pioneer of the short story and  the inventor of the detective fiction genre and a contributor to the emerging genre Science fiction.

Orphaned young, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond Virginia.  He attended the University of Virgina for only one semester as he was short of money.  He enlisted in the army but failed as an officers cadet at West Point.  He started his literary career with a collection of poems in 1827 (Tamerlane and Other Poems).  The poems were credited anonymously to ‘A Bostonian’

Poe spent worked for literary journals and periodicals for the next several years, becoming known for his literary criticism.  He lived in several cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City and it was in Baltimore 1835  he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm.

In 1945, his poem The Raven was published too much acclaim and was an instant success.  Poe died in  1849 at the age of only 40, the cause is still unknown.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short life is a very interesting one, full of adventures, triumphs and some sadness.  His fiction work is considered Gothic and of dark Romanticism.  His particular theme include death, decomposition and premature burial.  But he also wrote humourous tales, satire and hoaxes, using themes that catered to the public taste of the time.  Much more can be read about Poe’s life here and short stories and poems can be read on this excellent site.

Read my post about his poem Annabel Lee

Anne Bronte portrait from here

Read about  Anne here

Thanks to JustAudio2008 for The Bluebell video

A.A. Milne image from here  Pooh illustration  from here

Raymond Briggs image from here and Father Christmas illustration here

Edgar Allan Poe image from here

Thanks to KajiCarson for the video

Original birthday invite image from here

UPDATE:  There’s a video featuring Scottish Artists over on Echostains to celebrate Burns Night

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLES DICKENS!

Exhibition Review ‘From Hamlet to Hollywood’ The Barley Hall York

Posted in period drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by echostains

There promises to be a lot more activity on Bookstains this year – and a lot of changes.  It seems that these days that everyone and their wives are doing poetry challenges,  so I feel that it is time to close mine in order to retain some originality.  I shall still be featuring poetry but it shall be in a completely different format.  I’m way behind with my book and film reviews, but I have taken notes, so expect these to appear in the form of posts soon.

To kick off 2012, here is a post about costume.  I was undecided at first about which blog to use for this post.  Although ‘echostains’ is an art and design blog, the clothes featured were actually worn by actors in films (period drama’s which were sometimes derived from books).

The place these pictures were taken was the wonderful Medieval Barley Hall in York, UK.  December 2011 saw us visiting one of our favorite places (York) for a few days before Christmas.  The weather was at its most treacherous – blowing a gale with lashings of Yorkshire rain.  However we managed to find a safe haven in The Barley Hall which was all set out for a Medieval Christmas.

We’ve visited York a lot, yet this was one building we have never been in.  Although it has long been known that there was a medieval building in the Stonegate vicinity, the building wasn’t actually officially recorded as Medieval until 1980.  When the site was sold for redevelopment, it then became clear that the extent of the medieval structure was substantial.

The oldest part of the reconstructed Barley Hall dates back to about 1360.  The house was  built as a townhouse of Nostell Priory, which is monastery in West Yorkshire.  In 1430, a new wing was added and soon after,  the Hall became the home of William Snawsell, a leading York citizen, who was a goldsmith, an Alderman and Lord Mayor of York.

The atmosphere of the hall is wonderful and it was especially enhanced by the Christmas decorations.  Charming as the Hall is, we received an unexpected surprise when we ventured upstairs.  An exhibition of Period Drama clothes awaited us – some of them instantly recognisable.  I didn’t know which ones to examine first, I was so excited!

Lizzie and Darcy clothes from BBC Pride and Prejudice

What a joy to be able to scrutinise  the actual clothes which Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth wore in Andrew Davies adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice BBC 1995!  Lizzie’s jacket is the one worn in the scene where Darcy successfully proposes to her.  Other Pride and Prejudice clothes  featured in the exhibition are hats worn by the characters Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the haughty Miss Bingley.

From the Georgian era to the Late Edwardian era.  Costumes from the gorgeous Downton Abbey, created and written by Julian Fellowes, which premiered on ITV, September 2010. The latest episode was shown the Christmas period 2011.  The image below shows a dress worn by Dame Maggie Smith who plays The Rt Hon Violet, Countess of Grantham.  Her costumes are built to reflect the style appropriate of her heyday (early Edwardian) rather than the younger fashions of the day.  This is a stunning gown!

As worn by Dame Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

Tim Burton’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ 2007 (which starred Alan Rickman and Johnny Depp), features a pair of bloodstained trousers and an outfit worn by Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin with an explanation of how clothes are distressed for the bloody scenes.

bloodstained trousers from Sweeney Todd

Thanks to York dig  for providing the first image, and The Barley Hall for providing the black and white photo.  All other photographs are my own.

The exhibition is open until March 2012 – please drop in if you are in the area.  You will be well rewarded!

For lots more information please visit http://www.barleyhall.org.uk/

More info about Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd film costumes here

PLUS

PS it’s Chaim Soutine’s Birthday!

Watched – Enid (Blyton)

Posted in Authors I've read, period drama, Watched it with tags , , , on August 12, 2011 by echostains
Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton

When I was a child, Enid Blyton was my favorite author. She was beloved of most children: a wonderful storyteller whose stories kept you entranced. But what was she like as a person? Helena Bonham Carter was, at first glance, a surprising choice, to play Blyton in this BBC 4 biopic, but – then so was Trevor Eve who played Hughie Green, in the last series and I thought he was absolutely great!

Enid Blyton

The young Enid gets into storytelling to distract her siblings from the furious arguments which are going on between their parents. Her father eventually leaves for another woman (or so her mother says, though all her life Enid won’t believe this). It is easy to see why Enid starts escaping into her own world. She leaves home as soon at the first opportunity (Enid never stops running all through her life). She trains to become a schoolteacher, though her real ambition is to be an author. Rejected many times, she keeps trying, until eventually a door opens. Not one to hang around, she marries her publisher.

the very famous Five books

Their early days seem idyllic. What a blow it must have been to her to be told she couldn’t have children.. But despite these problems, she does have a child (in fact two,) but motherhood does not come easily to her. She seems more work inspired, than nurturing. Time for a nanny. But although she is honest about her failings, she does have some odd ideas about how to handle week old babies….

Enid Blyton bedtime story book

It is strange the way Blyton is different with other children than her own, and a bit baffling really. She seems more relaxed whilst in the company of children she doesn’t know. To an extent, she seems to shun anything that doesn’t fit into her world of fiction, such as the War. It’s as if in her refusal to be distracted, it will just go away. When her husband starts drinking, she banishes him into the spare room!

Noddy a popular Blyton character

 

Blyton is the ultimate escapist, and does not like the banalities of motherhood: writing comes first. When Blyton finally comes to terms that we are at war, she contributes by digging for victory with her children and entertaining officers whilst her husband is away (escapism again). Eventually of course, she takes a lover ‘Uncle’ Kenneth Waters.

the magical land of Enid

The acting was really good and the attention to period detail wonderful. Bonham Carter makes a great Blyton, showing all her contradiction. She is both hardened and yet vulnerable in her reluctance to face reality. The way that Blyton deals with harsh reality is through her children’s tales, where a happy ending is assured and cake is distributed with lashings of Ginger Beer She has such a hard unfeeling edge to her to her personality though and is able to compartmentalise her life skillfully, dismissing her children. Poor Hugh (ex husband) gets the treatment time and time again, and very cruelly. It is incredulous the way that she can turn her back on anything she doesn’t want to deal with, including her mother and her siblings. A very complicated, emotionally damaged but talented person, whose end was indeed tragic.

Watch it HERE 

Watched ‘Barchester Chronicles’

Posted in period drama, Watched it with tags , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by echostains

I have never read an Anthony Trollope book, and I know there are many of them.  I have however seen the series ‘The Way we Live Now’ starring David Suchet and greatly enjoyed it.  So when I spotted ‘The Barchester Chronicles‘ DVD I was quite looking forward to watching it.  The series was first shown in 1982 and is an adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s first two Barchester novels (The Warden and Barchester Towers).

The stars are Susan Hampshire, Donald Pleasence as Mr Harding (a central character), a very young Alan Rickman as adversary Obadiah Slope and Geraldine McEwan as Mrs Proudie the Bishops wife. 

 The plot centres around a zealous Mr John Bold an over zealous young reformer, discovering that the unworldly Mr Harding is in receipt of a very good wage for doing next to nothing takes it upon himself to point this out to Mr Harding, who is by turn horrified and mortified as he really has no idea about financial matters.  The newspapers get hold of this story and life for Mr Harding, from that point on, becomes intolerable.

I found this series a slow burner and didn’t think that I would like it, but the appearance of the slimy slithery Mr Slope (a kind of evangelical Uriah Heep with an eye for the ladies and not at all ‘umble’) played mesmerisingly by a very young Alan Rickman really livens up the series.  Slope  foolishly makes the mistake of making an enemy of the weak Bishops wife Mrs Proudy – and pays for it!  Mrs Proudy (Geraldine McEwan) and Mr Slope provide a lot of comedy.  The love interest is provided by Mr Hardings daughter Eleanor Bold.

The series was filmed in and around Peterborough Cathedral and on a BAFTA in 1982 for Design.

See here for full cast and nominations

Images and further plot details from here

Happy Birthday Dear Jane Austen!

Posted in Authors I've read, period drama, Poll with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by echostains

Today is the 235th birthday of British writer Jane Austen b. 1775 -1817.  In her short lifetime Austen completed 6 books.  I have read all of them, and have to say that Pride and Prejudice is my very favorite (followed closely by Emma).  To celebrate her birthday see my Echostains which explores her portraits. Meanwhile over here at Bookstains,  here are two of my favorite clips, (though I have many)  of the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. 

Having turned down Darcy’s marriage proposal, Lizzie and her relatives spend some time in Derbyshire and  in the vicinity of Darcy’s home Pemberley.  Hearing that the Master is away, Lizzie is exploring the home and grounds which she could have been hers, when she encounters – who else but Mr Darcy who has returned home unexpectedly!

Here’s the poll

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

Posted in Authors I've read, period drama with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by echostains

I wrote this short review quite a while ago –  and forgot all about it.  I just found it again in my drafts so……

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd

 

It has taken me quite a while to read Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd.  this isn’t because it was boring – quite the contrary.  It is a strange novel – even for Ackroyd and it is written from the perspective of  two duel personalities which span hundreds of years.  The first narrative is by Nicholas Dyer and architect who serves under Sir Christopher Wren.  The language takes a bit of getting into but is well worth the perseverance as intrigue, plague, fire and a fascination and indoctrination into the occult weave themselves into the personality of Dyer.

Hawksmoor on the other hand is a detective. separated from Dyer by a few centuries.  This is a very strange tale fraught with bygone actions and future consequences.   Deja vu  ensues as the past reveals and yet repeats itself, and self fulfills its own prophesy showing Aykroyd’s amazing skills yet again in  esoteric matters.

Nick Dyer is a horrible character but a compelling one also. He is a product of his time, hardened by life’s experience and with a dark  mysterious childhood.  The inspector Hawksmoor, though eccentric, doesn’t quite take off for me and pales by comparison to Dyer.  Nevertheless these two are wrapped up in a cycle of murder,intrigue and superstition.  Dyers dark spires and Hawksmoor’s descent into Dyers world leave a tingly aftertaste!

book image from here

The empty Bookcase (nearly)

Posted in Authors I've read, period drama with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by echostains
The journey is long behind me...

The journey is long behind me...

  

Well I finished my Flashback challenge a while ago, and I shall be writing about it (eventually).  I’ve read an assortment of books lately like ‘The worse Street in London’ by Fiona Rule (introduction by Peter Ackroyd) and the Dukan Diet by Dr pierre Dukan.  Talking of Ackroyd I have just bought Ackroyds ‘Hawksmoor’ and ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel, which I’ve been after for a while.  So looking forward to reading these.  I have run out of DVD’s again.  I recently bought ‘Return to Cranford’ and was bought  The Jane Austen Collection, containing Emma, Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park – of course I watched them one after another (and I had seen them all separately before)  

Peter Ackroyd

  

I have read a few Ackroyd books Including his wonderful ‘London’, Dickens – Public life and Private Passion, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem.  I tried The House of Doctor Dee’ but couldn’t quite get into it. The same applied to the Clerkenwell Tales.  I feel that I am missing out a bit not being able to get into these books, so I shall have to persevere (at some point).   

poor Darcy - how he must feel it!

  

Oh and I must mention one book which I got for Christmas and keeps slipping my mind (even though I’ve read everything else and I haven’t bought anything new, – and that is Mr Darcy Vampyre by Amanda Grange.  The idea of Darcy as a vampire, – well, poor Darcy how could he endure it? living on the blood of mere mortals?