Margot Heinemann

Margot Heinemann was until recently a fellow of New Hall, Cambridge. She was one of the editors of Culture and Crisis in Britain in the Thirties, where she wrote a piece on John Cornford, and is the author of a study of Jacobean drama, Puritanism and Theatre.

Brecht’s New Age

Margot Heinemann, 1 March 1984

It’s probably a good thing that we know so little about Shakespeare’s personal life. What biographical information we have concerns leases, wills, marriage lines, property. His pillow-talk with Anne Hathaway, Emilia Lanier or Mr W. H., interesting as it may have been, was not recorded. If you want to discuss Shakespeare, you have to depend on reading and seeing his work. Not so with Brecht. Not only did he write a great deal of commentary himself. All those who knew him well were impressed, and by now almost every one of them has written a book or articles about him, or at least had one ghost-written. New biographies and studies keep appearing, along with interviews and hitherto unpublished letters and diaries, and it’s easy to forget about the words on the page (or stage).

Modern Brecht

Margot Heinemann, 5 August 1982

‘Sacrilege sanctifies.’ Under this heading Brecht cheerfully sums up what happens to plays, like Shakespeare’s, that outlast their own time – and what may now be happening to his own:


Missing Person

5 May 1988

In reviewing Visions and Blueprints, edited by P. Collier and Edward Timms (LRB, 5 May), George Steiner expresses his distaste for my chapter on ‘Left Review, New Writing and the Broad Alliance against Fascism’. ‘How poignant,’ he writes, ‘are the remnants of party discipline which enable this testimony to omit, from the list of significant British writers involved in the Spanish cockpit,...

Brecht’s New Age

1 March 1984

Margot Heinemann writes: Ronald Hayman describes as ‘extraordinary’ my statement that for Brecht the crisis of June 1953 in Berlin signalled not only danger but positive hope. If Brecht really believed what he said about the 17 June demonstrations, he asks, how do I ‘explain his own subsequent guilt-feelings, evidenced, for instance, by the depressed entry he made in his diary on 20 August?’...

Karl Korsch

5 August 1982

Margot Heinemann writes: I’m sorry to have annoyed Geoffrey Minish by saying that Brecht, while learning much from Karl Korsch, always refused to identify with his ‘Korschian version’ of Marxism (the phrase, as perhaps I should have noted, is not mine but Douglas Kellner’s). This was not an attempt to credit Brecht with ‘ideological purity’, which would indeed be difficult, but a statement...

The Essential Orwell

Frank Kermode, 22 January 1981

Professor Crick’s subject is important and his research has evidently been diligent. We now know a lot more about Orwell than we did, and the increment of knowledge is not always trivial....

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Plays for Puritans

Anne Barton, 18 December 1980

In Act II of Twelfth Night, Maria says of Malvolio – that poker-faced enemy of cakes and ale, bear-baitings, and all ‘uncivil rule’ – that ‘sometimes he is a kind of...

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