Tok Pisin

Erudite 'bun nating' Nige introduces the inventive pidgin language of Tok Pisin... Tok Pisin is a form of Pidgin English and is widely spoken in Papua New Guinea. It developed as a result of Pacific Islanders intermixing, when people speaking numerous different languages were sent to work on plantations in Queensland and ... Read More...

Ekphrasis: Thom Gunn on Edouard Vuillard

  Nige reflects on a poem about a painting... I only recently came across the word Ekphrasis (adj. ekphrastic), but I've been enjoying Ekphrasis, all unknowing, for many years. It describes a work of art (or part of one) whose subject is another work of art - from Homer on the shield ... Read More...

Marianne North – Globetrotting Flower-painter

Nige pays tribute to the extraordinary Victorian spinster, globetrotter, botanist, artist and 'very wild bird', Marianne North... Tomorrow marks the birthday of the brilliant flower painter and tireless traveller Marianne North (born 1830), who, even by the standards of intrepid, globetrotting Victorian spinsters, was pretty extraordinary. In an age before jet ... Read More...

Edgar Guest, the People’s Poet

Today marks the 133rd birthday of the once extremely popular US poet Edgar Guest... Born on this day in 1881 (in England's Second City, Birmingham, though his family soon emigrated to the Land of the Free) was Edgar Guest, whose uplifting, nationally syndicated verse became so popular in the US that ... Read More...

Christopher Ricks on Keats and Embarrassment

Nige salutes the extraordinary lit-crit of Christopher Ricks... Despite the heat having knocked out most of the thinking parts of my brain, I've been reading (technically re-reading, as I read it when it came out some 40 - 40! - years ago) Christopher Ricks's Keats and Embarrassment. It presents the poet's ... Read More...

John Newton – Amazing Life

Today is the 189th birthday of John Newton, a man whose life, even in outline, reads like fiction. Born on this day in 1725 into a family of merchants, John Newton went to sea with his father at the age of 11, was later press-ganged into the Royal Navy, attempted to ... Read More...

Dame Barbara Cartland: Pioneer of Aerotowing

It's Barbara Cartland's birthday! Nige celebrates Britain's most multi-'talented' Dame.... Had she not been cruelly plucked from us at the age of 98, Dame Barbara Cartland - socialite, celebrity, figure of fun, self-appointed expert on many things, tireless self-publicist and staggeringly prolific romantic novelist - would have been 113 today. She ... Read More...