Advent Calendar Day 7: Charity!

The quintessential Christmas charity is probably the Salvation Army. Personally, though, I’m uncomfortable donating to the SA due to their historic (and contemporary) attitudes to LGBT people, and, of their militaristic, evangelical style of Christianity.

Christmas Charity Fun Run, 2011. Awesome (and unrelated to the SA...)
Christmas Charity Fun Run, 2011. Awesome (and unrelated to the SA…)

Enough hate. Today’s window opens on other and perhaps worthier causes (chosen in entirely idiosyncratic and incomplete fashion by me) to which you might like to donate this Christmas!

Of course, not everyone has spare cash for donations at the moment. So, here are places where just a few moments’ clicking or playing allows you to donate to charity without spending any money yourself:

[PODCAST]: Oscar Wilde’s Women for Great Writers Inspire

A couple of weeks ago, Alex recorded me for a podcast that rounds off the series called Great Writers Inspire. Great Writers Inspire is an amazing project providing open access, FREE lectures, talks, ebooks and other material on all sorts of writers. You don’t need any kind of educational affiliation or specialist background to enjoy them – they’re a great way to discover new writers.

Equally, listening to the other podcasts (generally in a state of sweaty apprehension and/or while on trains) allowed me to revisit authors I’d not studied since undergrad. Since I’m massively about to plug my own contribution, I’ll pre-emptively recommend those I most enjoyed:
Dr. Jennifer Batt on Mary Leapor, a fascinating eighteenth-century kitchenmaid and poet of whom I’d never heard (I didn’t get much beyond Stephen Duck).

Professor Daniel Wakelin on Chaucer (I loved this & enthused nostalgically about glory days of undergad).

Professor Tiffany Stern on Shakespeare and the Stage (concise, entertaining and illuminating, this is the best of the introductory talks).

My talk is here: Oscar Wilde’s Women. If the link dies, I am also searchable on iTunes, which will never stop being bizarre. In the podcast, I talk a bit about the ways in which I find seeing Wilde’s life as radical or inspirational problematic, wave the flag for Constance Wilde, and then suggest where the really radical Wilde is to be found – in his society plays’ depictions of women. I very much hope you enjoy it.

I was incredibly nervous about participating, but am so glad to have been involved. Do check out the Great Writers Inspire blog and library (including the unexpected opportunity to download Fanny Hill to your Kindle).

And, if you’re reading this in Oxford, enjoy the last of -1st week…

[EVENT] The Hogge Hath Lost His Pearle, 22 September, Oxford.

Saturday, 22nd September 2012. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Malone Society with the Oxford English Faculty, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

A semi-staged reading and discussion of Robert Tailor’s The Hogge hath lost his Pearle.

Registration, to include sandwich lunch and a copy of the text (or alternative Malone soc publication): £35 full, £15 student/Malone Society members. You can register online here.

If you prefer, please send a cheque payable to the Oxford English Faculty to Emma Smith, Hertford College, Oxford OX1 3BW.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford. (c) college website, 2012.

Corpus, incidentally, is the prettiest of all Oxford’s smaller colleges excluding ORIEL and Brasenose.

I was there yesterday, showing E. the wonders of its Jesus-pelican, inexplicable greenhouse, stunning gardens and commitment to really beautiful planting. Also, there’s a sun terrace.

(Note to Oxonians: did we know about the sun terrace? Shall we all meet up there and share sundry ice-cold beverages? Is Corpus so cool that its possession of a sun terrace is, to the …corpuscules,  not even A Thing? In any case, here’s the view from said terrace).

So yes. £15; Hogges; Pearles; sun terrace. Please do propagate the link and forward it to anyone who might be interested!

Laurie Maguire & Emma Smith – All’s Well That Ends Well

Buy the Times Literary Supplement! Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith have a new article out on All’s Well That Ends Well, with a revelatory theory about the play’s authorship. The Oxford Centre for Early Modern Studies blog is linking to a .pdf version, but I don’t know if that’s exactly the same as the TLS version (subscribers-only; here’s the contents page). In any case, it’s a bold and exciting argument, and a fascinating new collaboration. For the first time in my life, I’m wary of posting academic spoilers – but I’d love to know what other readers think.

(Disclaimer: Laurie is one of my supervisors and I’ve been excited about reading this article for months; I’m also working on a chapter on All’s Well, and I’m so glad I held off finishing until this article was published. I just made E. get off the phone so I could come and blog about it. I love All’s Well.)


I could claim this was a New Feature for the blog, but really it’s just five scraps of unrelated minutiae that anyone with a greater grip on trendy ephemera would stick on tumblr. Just take it as evidence of what a DPhil does to your brain.*

1. Tomorrow my housemate and I are in formal hall for the advent of Ms Vanessa Redgrave. We are on High Table, which may in fact be a sort of  children’s High Table due to the numbers booking in. Like a large family wedding. If Brasenose were marrying a famous actress. And Andrew and I were flower girls. In any case: I am very excited about the Vanessa Redgrave events and YOU SHOULD BE TOO. There are FOUR events over the next two days, in Oxford, they are all free and booking is HERE.

2. This is beauty and truth.

I have never seen a hipster who looked like they were capable of either having fun or reading a Sayers novel. I bet a hipster would never go and see Noises Off (I am going on Saturday!).

3. Ian Charleson = my new obsession. Please listen to him singing Guys & Dolls. It’s just audio, no pictures, so you can go and get on with what you’re doing while slowly sinking into dehydration-induced blindness (the blog that keeps on giving).

4. I have just remembered that last night, while very tired but unable to sleep, I wrote and illustrated a four-page children’s book called Josephine And The Marvellous Moustache. It’s about a little girl called Josephine and her moustache, which is marvellous, and possibly sentient, and they go to Paris together and she takes on her moustache on a date to the opera, where she and her facial hair are envied by a collection of poorly-drawn men who ALL resemble W. H. Kendal. Who says you need to be asleep to dream. My God, and to think I could have legally been a parent for the past eight years, now. I’m not fit to look after daffodils. Addendum: when I started this point with “I have just remembered that last night” I BET you didn’t think it would involve sobriety, kid’s lit, and facial hair. I BET.

5. I am off to do some doodling and sleeping. Based on last night’s adventures I can only assume I’m about to create Bearded Narnia.

*I’d appreciate it if everyone who knew me before the DPhil just KEPT QUIET on this one.

Petition to allow Anglican clergy to bless civil partnerships in church

David and Jonathan
Cheery and not even slightly suggestive image of Jonathan with David, the latter sporting gorgeous must-have-this-season dead!Goliath accessory. Found in St. Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh, photo by Lawrence OP.

Provided in the comments to my previous post, “Born This Way” and the Sanctity of (all) Marriage was a link to the following petition:

Petition to allow Anglican clergy to bless civil partnerships in church.

In December 2011, it became legally possible for civil partnerships to be blessed in houses of worship. Currently, Anglican clergy are not allowed to do this, but a growing number seek to do so openly and without threat to their careers. A letter to this effect was printed in The Times, and signed by over 120 clergy from across the Diocese of London.

For me, this is only an interim step – I want to see gay marriage within the Church of England, during my lifetime. That is, gay couples being married to each other using a recognisably Christian marriage service, inside Anglican churches, by current Anglican priests, then signing marriage certificates and having the option to use marital titles (e.g. husband/wife) if they so choose, with the same religious, social and legal standing as heterosexual couples, without

a) it making the blindest bit of difference whether either or both parties are ordained ministers, priests, or Rowan Williams himself,

b) anyone feeling entitled or obliged to question whether the couple are in a sexual relationship, because it is neither a problem nor anyone else‘s business, or

c) the celebrant, assistant, or clergy in the congregation having to worry about the ramifications for their present and future careers.

This is a long way from what the Diocese of London is asking today. However, I truly believe that the success of this petition would be the first step to achieving everything I’ve described. So, if you sympathise, please sign here.

Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama 2012 – Vanessa Redgrave

(c) UNICEF and Susan Markisz.

Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama 2012 – Vanessa Redgrave


in association with Brasenose College.

Film Screenings, Lectures and Symposium on Theatre and Politics


THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2012, 3 – 6pm
Vanessa Redgrave Lecture:
Speak What We Feel Not What We Ought To Say (Part 1) – King Lear
followed by screening of The Killing Fields (2011, dir. Carlo Nero), a documentary highlighting the importance that economics and taxation plays in wildlife conservation.
@ The Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford

THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2012, 9 – 11pm
Screening of The Fever (2004, dir. Carlo Nero), introduced by Vanessa Redgrave and the film’s director Carlo Nero, with Q&A to follow.

The Fever is a psychological drama based on the play by Wallace Shawn.
@ The Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford

FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2012, 3 – 6pm
Vanessa Redgrave Lecture:
Speak What We Feel Not What We Ought To Say (Part 2) – Antony and Cleopatra
@ The Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre, St Cross Building, Manor Road, Oxford

FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2012, 8 – 10pm
Symposium: Theatre and Politics with Vanessa Redgrave, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington, and playwright Simon Stephens.
@ The Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford

FILM SCREENINGS (no booking required, for further information see website)
Sun 5 Feb Julia (1977, dir. Fred Zinnemann) – 7.30pm, Ship Street Centre

Mon 6 Feb Playing for Time (1980, dir. Daniel Mann) – 8pm, Ship Street Centre

Tues 7 Feb Antony and Cleopatra (1974, dir. Jon Scoffield) – 8pm, Ship Street Centre

Weds 8 Feb King Lear (2008, dir. Trevor Nunn) – 8pm, Magdalen Auditorium

All events are free and open to all however booking is required for the lectures, The Fever and the symposium. For more information and free registration, please visit:

Vanessa Redgrave Biography:

Vanessa Redgrave can currently be seen starring in Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus. During her film career she has starred in films such as A Man For All Seasons, Howards End, A Month By The Lake, Mrs. Dalloway and Atonement. She received an Academy Award in 1978 for her supporting role in Julia. Her scores of major roles on the stage most recently include recreating The Year of Magical Thinking at the National Theatre; Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; The Tempest for the RSC at Shakespeare’s Globe; and The Cherry Orchard at the Royal National Theatre. She starred on Broadway in the landmark 2003 production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and more recently in Driving Miss Daisy.

Vanessa has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1995 and is an active supporter of Amnesty International and Liberty. She was awarded the CBE in 1967.

About the Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Drama

The Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Drama has been made possible by the generous support of Eric Abraham.

HUMANITAS is a series of Visiting Professorships at Oxford and Cambridge intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to both universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities. Created by Lord Weidenfeld, the Programme is managed and funded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue with the support of a series of generous benefactors, in collaboration with the Humanities Division of the University of Oxford.