Close Readings

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford discuss the lives and works of 20th-century poets through the lens of pieces written about them in the LRB, and Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley consider the lives and voices of women in medieval literature.

On Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford, 19 July 2022

28 June 2022 · 1hr

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford discuss the lives and works of two poets, Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, close friends and leading lights of the New York School, who sought to create an anti-academic poetry, hedonistic and free of the puritan American tradition, and attentive to their personal differences from mainstream experience.

Romantic History: Waterloo to the British Museum

Neil MacGregor and Rosemary Hill, 28 June 2022

26 April 2022 · 55mins

In the final episode in our series looking at the way history was transformed in the Romantic period, Neil MacGregor joins Rosemary Hill to discuss the circulation of artefacts throughout Europe in the years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, and the growth of public collections.

Romantic History: The Bayeux Tapestry

Rosemary Hill and Roey Sweet, 28 June 2022

12 April 2022 · 58mins

In the third episode of her series looking at how history was transformed in the Romantic period, Rosemary Hill talks to Roey Sweet about the antiquarians, a new breed of multi-disciplinary investigators, who, in the years after the French Revolution, studied everything from woollen threads to tombstones in their efforts to imagine the past.

Romantic History: Balmoral

Rosemary Hill and Colin Kidd, 28 June 2022

22 March 2022 · 52mins

In the 1740s the Scots were invading England and the wearing of tartan was banned. By the 1850s, Queen Victoria had built her Gothic fantasy in Aberdeenshire and tartan was everywhere. What happened in between?

Romantic History: Salisbury Cathedral

Rosemary Hill and Tom Stammers, 28 June 2022

15 March 2022 · 57mins

In the first episode of a new four-part series looking at the way history was transformed in the Romantic period, Rosemary Hill is joined by Tom Stammers to consider how an argument over the ‘improvement’ of Salisbury Cathedral in 1789 launched a new attitude to the past and its artefacts.

On Charlotte Mew

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford, 28 June 2022

8 March 2022 · 47mins

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford look at the life and work of Charlotte Mew, who brought the Victorian art of dramatic monologue into the 20th century, and whose difficult experiences are often refracted through her damaged and marginalised characters.

On W.B. Yeats

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford, 28 June 2022

21 December 2021 · 1hr 01min

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford turn to the life and work of W.B. Yeats in the latest episode in their ongoing Close Readings series.

Among the Ancients: Aristophanes

Emily Wilson and Thomas Jones, 28 June 2022

7 December 2021 · 50mins

In this sample episode from their forthcoming Close Readings series, starting next year, Emily Wilson talks to Thomas Jones about the comedies of Aristophanes, in particular Clouds and Lysistrata.

Encounters with Medieval Women: Firebrand

Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley, 28 June 2022

9 November 2021 · 57mins

In the fourth and final episode in their miniseries, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley look at the life and work of pilgrim, entrepreneur and visionary mystic Margery Kempe, who dictated what is thought to be the first autobiography in English.

Encounters with Medieval Women: Anchoress

Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley, 28 June 2022

8 October 2021 · 46mins

In the second episode in their series on medieval women, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley look at the work of the mystic and anchoress Julian of Norwich, who wrote the first work in English that we can be sure was authored by a woman.

Encounters with Medieval Women: Repentant Sinner

Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley, 28 June 2022

28 September 2021 · 58mins

In the first episode of their new podcast miniseries looking at the lives and voices of medieval women, Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley encounter Saint Mary of Egypt, who (if she existed) lived sometime between the 3rd and 6th centuries, and led a wild and licentious youth before serving penitence in the desert, and going on to teach the value of living an imperfect life.

On Emily Dickinson

Seamus Perry, Mark Ford and Joanne O’Leary, 2 August 2022

1 June 2021 · 1hr 03mins

Seamus Perry, Mark Ford and Joanne O‘Leary discuss the life and work of Emily Dickinson, her dashes, death instinct and obliquity.

On Derek Walcott

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford, 2 August 2022

16 March 2021 · 56mins

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford discuss the life and work of the Saint Lucian poet, playwright and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.

On Louis MacNeice

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford, 9 August 2022

24 November 2020 · 57mins

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford discuss the life and work of Louis MacNeice, the Irish poet of psychic divisions and authoritative fretfulness.