A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ best loved tales. Ebenezer Scrooge, described as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner,” is certainly no lover of the Christmas season. He is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him that he will be visited…

Oliver Twist

The story of the orphan, Oliver Twist. Brought up in a workhouse and then apprenticed to an undertaker, he runs away to London. Meeting the charismatic “Artful” Dodger, he then falls in with a gang of backstreet pickpockets run by the sinister Fagin. Oliver Twist is Charles Dickens’ second novel, originally serialized in Bentley’s Miscellany…

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Something was dead in each of us, And what was dead was Hope. In this moving poetic study of his experiences in the Victorian penal system, Wilde relates the relentlessness and tedium of prison life, and of the haunted thoughts which trouble these “souls in agony” within their “numbered tombs”. Oscar Wilde wrote “The Ballad…

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide wide sea! In this haunting poem, a guest on his way to a wedding reception is stopped by the Ancient Mariner. With his “glittering eye” he transfixes the guest and then relates a compelling tale of a sea voyage fraught with strange happenings. The Mariner tells…

The Prisoner of Chillon

A narrative poem of 14 stanzas, written by Lord Byron following a visit to the Château of Chillon on Lake Geneva in 1816. It was inspired by the story of 16th-century Swiss monk and patriot François Bonivard, held captive in the dungeons of Chillon between 1532 and 1536. The poem takes the form of a…