British Literature

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29th of May // 09.52

The sun woke me up at 7 am today, but it was quite lucky since my phone died during the night. I’ve been reading in the library for a little more than an hour. Today is sonnets and past exams; I feel like I’ve learned quite a lot this week so I’m gonna put it to the test.

Fun fact: Leda and the swan is based on the same greek mythology as Orphan Black!

Today is the birthday of Beatrix Potter, born on this day in British history, 28 July 1866. She is most remembered for her work as an author and illustrator of children’s books. Her most famous creation, Peter Rabbit, is still a popular and well loved character today.

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April is National Poetry Month!  Although you might not think of looking in a medical collection to find poetry, you’d be surprised – there are more than a few poet-doctors sprinkled throughout our rare book collections.

Mark Akenside (1721-1770) was one such individual.  He had a considerably successful medical career during the 1750s and 1760s, but also achieved a certain amount of renown for his poetry.  His most famous work was his long philosophical poem The Pleasures of Imagination, which was published in 1744 in three books.  He wrote in blank verse – meaning the lines of poetry have rhythm, but do not rhyme - and took inspiration from the classical poets Virgil and Horace.   The story of the poem’s initial publication seems to be the stuff of legend.  Akenside asked the printer Robert Dodsley for a fee of £120, which Dodsley thought was exorbitant.  According to Samuel Johnson, no lesser a figure than Alexander Pope was so impressed with Akenside’s work that he urged Dodsley to compensate him accordingly.  

Read more about Mark Akenside at our Becker Brief!