Clare Bucknell

Clare Bucknell is a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. The Treasuries, a social history of poetry anthologies, is out now.

I am his leavings: On Anne Enright

Clare Bucknell, 7 March 2024

Nell,​ the narrator of Anne Enright’s The Wren, The Wren, can’t imagine real words coming out of her boyfriend’s mouth. ‘When I think about him talking, all he says is: Bloke, bloke bloke bloke. Blokey bloking bloke, bloke-bloke bloking.’ The boyfriend in question, Felim, a tall, taciturn farmer’s son, built like ‘a plastic model of...

His Own Dark Mind: Rescuing Lord Byron

Clare Bucknell, 30 November 2023

Byron​ knew just how good Don Juan was. Part way through the poem’s ninth canto, drafted in Pisa in the summer of 1822, he takes a break from a digression on Pyrrhonian scepticism to assess how things are going:

’Tis time we should proceed with our good poem,    For I maintain that it is really good,Not only in the body, but the...

Throw them a bone: Megan Nolan

Clare Bucknell, 21 September 2023

Tom Hargreaves​, the anti-hero of Megan Nolan’s second novel, is young, bland-faced and good at ingratiating himself in places he doesn’t belong. A journalist for the Daily Herald, he reflexively imagines tabloid headlines: ‘NEIGHBOURS FROM HELL’; ‘DISCO INFERNO!’; ‘Uncle of Kid Killer was Peeping Tom As a Teen – To His Own Stepmum!’ Tom...

From The Blog
12 May 2023

In marine painting of the Dutch Golden Age, weather isn’t merely a backdrop. Skies are characterful, vehicles for drama and mood. Dark clouds, towering above ships, may be warnings; windless air and slack sails can suggest calm, exhaustion or frustration. But weather is also an opportunity for verisimilitude.

Eleanor Catton’s​ characters enjoy playing other people. Mira Bunting, the twenty-something founder of Birnam Wood, an activist gardening collective, maintains a ‘rotation’ of aliases for undercover purposes. To glean information about a property listing in the small town of Thorndike in New Zealand, she transforms – via a fake email account – into Mrs June...

Outbreaks of Poets

Robert Crawford, 15 June 2023

The story of Macmillan’s marketing and its advertising of a ‘GOLDEN TREASURY SERIES’ of volumes is not just a piece of publishing history, but part of the shift from sacred to secular culture in...

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