Towards the end of his life, in the years between Waterloo and Catholic Emancipation, the Northumbrian wood-engraver Thomas Bewick began to write an autobiography. Looking back to his boyhood in Cherryburn, upriver from Newcastle, he gave a personal and verbal counterpart to the little scenes of rural life which delighted readers of his two major books, A General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and The History of British Birds (two parts, 1797 and 1804). Had Bewick simply issued these books with the engravings of animals and birds, we would doubtless admire them still, as naturalists and country gentlemen immediately did, for their information, both visual and verbal, was the best of its kind available. It is not the main subjects of each page that made Bewick’s work so deeply loved, however, but the tailpieces, appearing after nearly every entry in British Birds, that enable us to enter late Georgian rural England and enter the mind of Charlotte Brontë, as a shortsighted twelve-year-old, finding the solace in them that she later allowed Jane Eyre to find, hidden behind curtains in the library at Gateshead Hall.
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How convincing is Anatol Lieven's perspective that 'if we are to prevail against climate change, we must adopt a Chinese perspective and concentrate on the long term', building a form of 'nationalist siege state'?
@malloch_brown weighs up the arguments.
'She must pretend to be a walking companion, observe without being noticed and paint the subject from memory, in secret. It's a superb metaphor for the female artist, hidden from history.'
@nclarke14 ponders the resonance of 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'.
'And there in the evening the bride and the gamekeeper
Wait with their faces averted, wait
For the signal to shift and the lamp to glow red
And a train to arrive, but not yet and not yet.'
'It Says Here', from Sean O'Brien's upcoming collection.