Jon Connell #2

I have just finished Trollope’s Framley Parsonage, a book I have read at least twice before. It may not be the greatest of 19th century novels but it is one of the most enjoyable – and one of my favourites. It is full of romance but it’s also full of humour: I’d forgotten quite how…

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 05:  (FILE PHOTO) The 1962 film classic 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was released 50 years ago on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. The film based on the 1960 novel by Harper Lee which starred Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch for which he later won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
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Pulitzer Prize winner and "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2007 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Go Set a Watchman: the phenomenon

In 1960, when Harper Lee produced To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel became a sensation almost from the beginning. Within two years it had been translated into ten languages, won a Pulitzer Prize, been adapted as an Oscar winning movie, and spent 88 weeks on the American bestseller lists. It has never been out of…

Jon Connell

Jon Connell #1

This is the first in what I hope will be a regular series of blog posts – I will try and write about once a week. There’s a lot happening at Connell Guides, so I can tell you about that. But I will write about literary matters, too, and, since I spend a lot of…


Post-exam anxieties – a message from the expert

So, exams are over – relief! Or is it? This period – between sitting exams and collecting results – is difficult for all students. Lots of students are feeling just as stressed and worried as they were before the exams, and sometimes more so. We spoke with Clinical Psychologist, Dr Alex Fowke, who specialises in treating people with…


The origin of Mark Twain’s name

Before “Mark Twain” he was “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass”. And before “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass” he was “Sieur Louis de Conte”, “John Snook” and even “Josh”. Samuel Clemens, America’s classic satirist, used a litany of pseudonyms before settling on the name we know him by today. In the latest issue of the Mark Twain Journal Kevin MacDonnell…

attributed to John Taylor, oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1610

Did Shakespeare really retire to Stratford?

Shakespeare abandoned London and retired to Stratford in about 1610. That’s what historians and Shakespeare experts have been telling us for 300 years. But is it true? Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, the Shakespeare scholar Katherine Duncan-Jones suggests that it is not. In a dramatic overturning of received wisdom about the Bard, she supplies…


Bennett’s choice of verse

Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s favourite dramatists. On last National Poetry day (October 2nd 2014) he wrote in the Telegraph about the poets who have inspired him. Favourites included Thomas Hardy, A.E. Housman, Louis MacNeice, Philip Larkin and W.H. Auden. 80 year-old Bennett celebrated in particular Auden’s political changes of heart over the course…