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John Mullan talks for Connell Guides

Posted on February 06, 2017 by Jolyon Connell | 0 comments

John Mullan is my kind of academic. He’s forthright, original, and engaging. Take his recent highly entertaining book What Matters in Jane Austen? a mini treasure trove of detail about the author who the playwright Samuel Beckett, no less, called “the divine Jane” (As Mullan says, one looks forward to an academic tome on Austen’s influence on the Theatre of the Absurd.) In a chapter on what makes characters blush, for example, Mullan tells us that there are more blushes in Emma than in any other Austen novel, whiles the Austen character who actually blushes most is Fanny in Mansfield Park.

Mullan is very good on Jane Austen – if you don’t believe me take a look at the videos of him on our website. He has plenty to say about Shakespeare, too, so we’re delighted to have secured him as the keynote speaker for our first Connell Guides Revision Bootcamp in March.

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The EU Referendum: Stay or Go?

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Jolyon Connell | 2 comments

Which way will you vote in the European referendum on June 23rd? Do you know? “I don’t think I’ll vote,” a clever friend of mine said this week. “I change my mind every five minutes. It depends who I’ve last talked to.”

In The Sunday Times, Harry Mount says that class comes into it, with Brexiteers tending to come from a lower social rung than the richer, more  metropolitan remainers. The division is there in the Cabinet, he argues, with the Eurosceptics like Ian Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling being largely state-educated and the posher element (Cameron Osborne, Jeremy Hunt, etc) being mostly for ‘remain’. Class and power, says Mount...

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Jon Connell's visit to Winchester College

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Paul Woodward | 0 comments


The irrepressible Professor John Sutherland and I visited Winchester College last week, having accepted an invitation from Richard Stillman, the Head of English, to visit the school and talk about Connell Guides. John showed his customary skill in engaging the students using his extraordinary breadth of knowledge to discourse amusingly not just on Hamlet (as we’d planned to do) but also on King Lear and Jane Eyre – firing questions at the students who fielded them with aplomb.

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How Gatsby Became Great

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Connell Guides | 0 comments


Last year marked the 90th anniversary of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby. Yet back in the 1920s, few would have expected its appeal to last so long. On publication it met with a glut of hostile reviews, sold poorly, and by the time Fitzgerald died in 1940, was practically forgotten. It was only at the end of the 1950s that a gradual build-up of enthusiasm finally secured Gatsby's place as a modern classic, widely anthologised and soon incorporated into American school curricula.

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Amis and McEwan on Writing

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Connell Guides | 0 comments


In a joint interview, Martin Amis and Ian McEwan discuss their writing in The Daily Telegraph. We all feel the pressure of time more these days, says Amis, “and for a very good reason. There’s been an acceleration in one event following the other in our modern world, and writing reflects that… the arrow of plot and development has to be much sharper than it used to be. The great wallowing baggy monster where you follow various digressions – that’s gone, too.”

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The daffodils that inspired Wordsworth

Posted on April 26, 2016 by Connell Guides | 0 comments

Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ is 200 years old this year. Writing in the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring traces its history. It arose, he says, out of a walk Wordsworth took with his sister, Dorothy, in April 1802. Dorothy recorded the trip in her own journal, and her perspective helps bring the scene to life. Arriving at a section of woods, she and her brother encountered a bank of flowers:

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Fictional justice

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Connell Guides | 0 comments

What would happen to the villains of children’s literature nowadays if the Crown Prosecution Service were able to make the mud stick? The Times consulted the Ministry of Justice…

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