Constance Benson in “Unreasonable Harpy” shock.

Janet Achurch (1854-1916). I agree she does not look a barrel of laughs.

Janet Achurch (1854-1916). I agree she does not look a barrel of laughs.

I am still at home. My poor parents are currently watching me write a chapter of my Masters thesis.

Working on coursework at home is always fraught – you don’t feel quite able to descend into the maelstrom of skank, lunacy and botched cicadian rhythms that have previously characterised your writing experiences in college, but just enough of the madness leaks out to let them feel concerned. It’s, you know, the little things – the slow spread of A4 printouts across the dining table (I have gone back to working on paper, and the planet weeps for me and its forets), the inability to type unless listening to 90s pop, 80s pop, godawful C-pop or, er, VERY LOUD BAROQUE. The tea-drinking. The broken skin. The appalling, stupendous bad temper with which no human being should have contact.

So to my lovely parents, I apologise. I have eaten and slept better this week than in months. It is not their fault I want to put a fork through my own eyes. Or the eyes of Constance Benson (1860-1946), that sanctimonious uncharitable cow, were she around for me to do it. She is so mean about Janet Achurch, guys. Not even the AMAZING FEUD between G. Bernard Shaw and E. G. Craig (look at his tiny smug face, I love him) can console me (basically, Gordon Craig, arch bastard, gave Shaw permission to publish his letters to/from Ellen Terry, then pretended he hadn’t. ALL OVER LITERATURE. It’s so great).

…I nearly said ‘I must remind myself these people aren’t real‘ (my usual tactic when raging at Dorothea Brooke, or Romeo, or the other Mrs Rochester), and then I remembered that no, actually, they were. The pitfalls of (semi-)interdisciplinary work, you store up all sorts of grudges for the afterlife. Including ‘Oscar, why were you such a git?’ and ‘Stuffed sacks of hay, Gordon Craig, what were you thinking?’.

Writing this post has actually cheered me. My thesis may not be hugely interesting – at the moment it is being written very slowly, yet reads like the work of a four-year-old twit on acid – but the subjects are. Divine Ellen Terry (look how beautiful she was at sixteen) has a death-story that reads like the rapture of a Catholic saint. Janet Achurch’s husband killed himself by drowning in a suit of armour. Helen Faucit had an incredibly messed-up relationship with Charles Kemble and doesn’t seem to have noticed. Simple pleasures.

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2 thoughts on “Constance Benson in “Unreasonable Harpy” shock.

  1. ETerry at sixteen is the MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON I HAVE EVER SEEN.

    I pity your parents having you at home working. Not because it’s YOU, but just. I know how mine were during the ghastly paper 7 weeks. IT WAS HELL FOR ALL OF US. I’m working at home now, of course, but it’s revision rather than written work, and thus not quite so awful to watch.

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    • Absolutely. I have taken myself off to the Shakespeare Institute today, which – merci mon dieu – seems to finally accept the existence of my eduroam account. So I can have VERY LOUD POP (on headphones), and books (books, Chloe! That you can carry between levels!) and natural light and everything. Without snapping at them. It’s so lovely to be at home for longer, but it’s also an uneasy compromise between The Full Pericles & normal functional behaviour. I mean I am definitely swearing less. Weeping only occasionally. Not eating ANY custard creams. It’s odd. I mean it does definitely confirm that doing a Birmingham DPhil and living at home – never really a serious option – would probably drive all of us into early graves. Although the cat’d love it.

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