No 12: Anton Chekhov at 40

ChekhovSo far in this series we have seen some writers who are winding down at 40, others who were already dead at 40, or others yet who were still developing their craft at 40. But in the case of Anton Chekov, born 29 January 1860 and therefore turned 40 in 1900, 40 is in many ways the moment: the time for which he is remembered, for it is around this age that he wrote his most successful plays that were to secure his legacy. Continue reading “No 12: Anton Chekhov at 40”

No. 11: Leigh Hunt at 40

james-henry-leigh-hunt‘It is often necessary for a good journalist to write bad literature. It is sometimes the first duty of a good man to write it’ G.K. Chesterton once wrote, in a brief introduction to a collection of Charles Dickens’s journalism. He expresses in characteristically pithy fashion a central problem with literary journalism and its interactions both with the outside world, and with the world of art. Few writers grappled with this problem more resolutely than James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), who is an important and unjustly neglected figure both in nineteenth-century press history and in our literary history. Continue reading “No. 11: Leigh Hunt at 40”

No. 10: Thomas Middleton at 40

Middleton

Thomas Middleton was a Renaissance playwright successful enough in his own lifetime, then cast like so many of his contemporaries under the critical shadow of Shakespeare, but now enjoying increasingly greater prominence in academic discussion; admittedly this is in part thanks to what we now recognise as his revision of a number of Shakespeare plays, but moreover due to recent work by OUP in collecting his complete works for the first time that has allowed us to truly grasp the full range of his dramatic power. Thanks to this, we can now get a better sense of his professional progress, and assess his position at the age of 40. Continue reading “No. 10: Thomas Middleton at 40”