Extract from Mary Mitford’s Sketches of English Life and Character

This extract is from the sketch,“Hannah Bint”, included in Some Sketches of English Life and Character, by Mary R Mitford.

Mary Mitford (1787-1855) was a successful author and dramatist whose work is now, unfortunately, little known. She specialised in writing about English rural life.

More on Mary R Mitford – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Russell_Mitford

Image: “A Village by the Sea”, by Stanhope Forbes (one of the Newlyn School); as included in the above book.

How about these first year exam questions?

If you think first year exams are daunting, how about this? From 1974.

FIRST YEAR ENGLISH LITERATURE, Paper II: Renaissance Drama, Leeds University 1974.

Closed book.

Time allowed: 3 hours.

  1. Either: (a) The idea of time seems to be very important in Shakespeare’s last plays. Describe the presentation of this idea, and indicate the nature and effect of its operation. You may, if you wish, restrict your answer to any one play.

Or: (b) ‘Her [Nature’s] World is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.’ (SIR PHILIP SIDNEY). In what ways might this comment be applied to the works of the English Renaissance dramatists? Discuss at least two dramatists.

Or: (c) Outline the features which, in your view, are characteristic of Shakespeare’s ‘Romances’.


  1. Either: (a) ‘The progress of the minds of the central figures towards deeper and deeper self-knowledge, the approach to the impenetrable mystery of fate perceived in the moments of intensest suffering and action, which are also the moments of clearest insight.’ (ELLIS-FERMOR). Illustrate and discuss this aspect of The Duchess of Malfi.

Or: (b) Examine, with reference to Hamlet or to The Revenger’s Tragedy, the ways in which imagery and symbolism are used to create, and sustain, a particular tragic mood.

Or: (c) What are the features which commonly distinguish the Tragedy from the Revenge Play?

“Analogy” – a poem by Brian Higgins, read by Michael Blackburn

Brian Higgins (1930 – 1965) is now forgotten as a poet but published three collections of poetry during his lifetime. This poem, “Analogy” comes from his second, Notes While Travelling (Longmans, London, 1964).

His first collection, The Only Need, was published by Abeland-Schuman (New York – London – Toronto) in 1960, and the final one (posthumously), The Northern Fiddler, by Methuen (London) in 1966. His death was ascribed to a ”rare heart condition”.

More on Higgins available on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Higgins_(poet)

The portrait of Higgins is by Patrick Swift and is used courtesy of Wikipedia.