Julia Briggs

Julia Briggs is the author of This Stage-Play World, about the Elizabethan theatre, and the editor of the Penguin Three Guineas and A Room of One’s Own. She is a professor of English at De Montfort University in Leicester.

The Wives of Herr Bear: Jane Harrison

Julia Briggs, 21 September 2000

In Donna Tartt’s novel The Secret History, a group of clever, fastidious preppies in a small liberal arts college on the East Coast reinvent the cult of Dionysus. They brew a concoction of ivy leaves, and embark on the ritual frenzy that culminates in the ‘omophagy’, a feast of raw flesh to be eaten by initiates. Their experiment is informed by Jane Harrison’s researches into the figure of Bacchus and the ‘thiasos’, his band of ecstatic worshippers. Harrison had read her Nietzsche and set off in pursuit of the ‘darker, older’ shapes to be glimpsed behind the clear forms of Greek drama and Platonic dialogue.‘


Susannah Clapp, 18 February 1988

The young Noel Coward thought E. Nesbit was ‘the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen’. Berta Ruck called her ‘the Duchess’. Nesbit set herself up as the complete...

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