You can read here an essay in the current (August – September 2021) issue of The London Magazine. It is briefly summarised below.
Molière Reading Tartuffe at Ninon de Lenclos, painted in 1802 by Nicolas Monsiau, hangs in the library of the Comédie-Française, France’s national theatre. Tartuffe scandalised the pious on its first appearance, prompting the religious authorities to threaten with excommunication anyone who publicly performed it. The picture shows the author declaiming his play at the Rue des Tournelles, where Anne de Lenclos, (‘Ninon’, shown seated in the middle), held her salon.
But were Ninon and Molière friends? Did they ever even meet? The private reading of Tartuffe at her home is only one of the un-verified stories which attached themselves to Ninon’s name. Between her and Molière sits Charles de Saint-Evremond, certainly a life-long friend of hers but already an exile in London when Tartuffe was published. So why is he in this picture at all? And what might the profound friendship they cultivated have to teach us now?
In 2018, the PN Review published ‘Unseasonably Speaking’, an essay in which I made the case for re-opening a discussion about how Stefan Zweig’s time in London should be commemorated. Three Monkeys Online has now posted that piece. The 2021 June – July issue of the PN Review carried an open letter to English Heritage […]
This short film about Seaton Junction is based on an essay in the Oct. – Nov. 2020 issue of the London Magazine. I was recently in conversation with Julio Etchart about his new book Imagining Orwell in Three Continents at its Zoom launch. My review of the book for the New Internationalist will be in […]
For The Ecologist I witness the emergence in Charmouth of a new community initiative, Ban the Beads. It aims to hold South West Water to account for the millions of plastic bio-beads that have been washing up on beaches all around the West Country. Also: Adam Rees’ new report on the impact of commercial potting […]