Paris, London and Friendship

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.

Nicolas André Monsiau (1754-1837) - Molière lisant sa comédie du Tartuffe chez Ninon de Lenclos
Molière lisant Tartuffe chez Ninon de l’Enclos, Nicolas Monsiau, 1802

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?


Open letter to English Heritage about a blue plaque for Stefan Zweig

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 […]


Analog Sea and the Pixelated Madness

An account of reading Jonathan Simons’ sui generis offline journal, Analog Sea, during Donald Trump’s attempted putsch. In the April / May issue of PN Review.


The Exiled Voices Teach

My review of the book version (Fuel, 2020) of Patrick Keiller’s acclaimed film, London (1994), in the April / May edition of The London Magazine.


On Belonging or, George Orwell and the Wretched Little Place in Devonshire

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 […]


The Coal Barge and the Jewel Anemones

The case for a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) in Lyme Bay in the September issue of the Marshwood Vale Magazine Republished in The Ecologist.


Dealer in Dark Hints

I’ve a piece in the special Covid supplement of The London Magazine, Untitled, 2020


Life-cycle of the Herring Gull

Poem, dedicated to all those who held Waterloo Bridge for Extinction Rebellion in April last year, published in this year’s May-June issue of the PN Review.


Multiplying the Light

My essay about the Czech philosopher of education, Jan Amos Comenius, and the book he wrote in London in 1641/2, The Way of Light, is in the April/May issue of The London Magazine.


Letter from Lyme Bay

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 […]