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Content

Literature


Writers of Classic Literature



CHARLES DICKENS

Charles Dickens 1812 - 1870

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth. His father worked in the naval dockyard. The family later moved to Chatham and London but slowly slid into poverty. Dickens ended up working in a factory. He took up journalism, then at 24 had great success as a novelist. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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CONFUCIUS

Confucius 551 -479bc

Confucius was not exactly an author in the way that other writers in the series are. His ideas however, expressed in his Analects (reported sayings), have been the backbone of the Chinese psyche ever since he uttered them. He was very concerned that people should read history and poetry, with the result that the Chinese for most of their existence have been the most literate society on earth. The well-read man has always been considered at the pinnacle of society. This DVD tells what is known of his life and gives an introduction to his ideas and his importance in Chinese life. It is followed by an overview with leads to books he had a hand in, or that will help to understand him.


DVD / 35 minutes

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D H LAWRENCE

D H Lawrence 1885 - 1930

Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. His father was a coalminer and his mother a schoolteacher. He went to Nottingham University College. He began a teaching career in London but in 1812 became a full-time writer. He went off with the aristocratic German wife of his professor at Nottingham. After a turbulent but ultimately successful career he died of tuberculosis when he was forty-five. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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DEFOE

Daniel Defoe 1660 - 1731

Daniel Defoe was born in Cripplegate, London in 1660, the son of a tallow chandler. His father was a dissenter in religion with strong puritan views. Defoe was sent to a dissenters academy in Newington where he received a good education. He began working as a journalist as well as being a secret agent for the government. He travelled widely and in his later years successfully published many works of fiction. He died in poverty in London in 1731. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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DR JOHNSON

Dr Samuel Johnson 1709 - 1784

Johnson was born in the town of Lichfield. His father was a bookseller whose business was gradually failing. Johnson was educated at Lichfield Grammar School and from his earliest days was extremely bright academically while being at the same time extremely lazy. He was scarred by scrofula, partially deaf and blind in one eye. His greatest work was the first fully comprehensive dictionary of the English language. He was equally famous for his brilliant conversation. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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EDGAR ALLAN POE

Edgar Allan Poe 1809 - 1849

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston the son of actors David and Elizabeth Poe. His father disappeared when he was three and his mother died a year later. He was adopted by a Richmond, Virginia family called Allan. When he was 17 he was disowned by his foster parents. He was determined to be a writer and through many difficulties he succeeded in becoming one of the first great imaginative writers in the United States. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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EMILE ZOLA

Emile Zola 1840 - 1902

Zola was born the son of an Italian engineer. He early determined to be a writer and via work with the publishing firm Hachette, he began writing the many realistic novels with which he made his mark. His work was very popular with a wide audience and he was seen as a champion of democracy and the people. He was exiled for the stance he took against the government at the Dreyfus trial. The DVD traces his successful and industrious life and ends with an overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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EMILY DICKINSON

Emily Dickinson 1830 - 1886

By any standards a remarkable poet, the fact that she lived in an age when poets were supposed to be men and any ideas contrary to the norm were outrages in the eyes of society, Emily Dickinson's work is astonishing. The film traces her life in 19th Century New England and shows how her talent has gained her a place as one of the best loved of American poets. The DVD covers her life and background and ends with an overview of her work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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EUGENE O'NEILL

Eugene O'Neill 1888 - 1953

O'Neill's father was a successful actor and as a child he was loved and cared for. He spent his youth rebelling against everything and finally settled down to become America's first serious dramatist of international stature. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1936. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

F. Scott Fitzgerald 1896 - 1940

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St Paul Minnesota into a fairly well-off family. He began his first novel while at Princeton University and very shortly after leaving it was accepted by Scribners and successfully published. He went on to be the prophet of the Jazz age of the twenties but his popularity declined. He is now recognised as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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FRANZ KAFKA

Franz Kafka 1883 - 1924

Franz Kafka was born in Prague, still under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was well educated and from an early age he determined to become a writer. He worked in an insurance company and in his ample free time wrote a number of remarkable novels and short stories. His heroes are all struggling to find themselves against a background of the totalitarian state or tribe or religion, and his name has become synonymous with the idea of modern man and his struggle to maintain his individuality. The video traces his life and is followed by a brief overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

George Bernard Shaw 1856 - 1950

Shaw was born into a protestant family in Catholic Dublin. His family was slowly sliding down the social ladder. He left school at 15 to become a clerk. Then aged twenty three went off to London to become a writer. Blessed with a brilliant wit and a capacity for hard work he became the most prominent dramatist of his age. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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GEORGE ELIOT

George Eliot 1819 - 1880

George Eliot was born Mary Anne Evans in 1819 near the small town of Nuneaton in Warwickshire. Her father ran the estate of the local landowner. She had an excellent education in local schools and took up journalism. She began writing novels when she was over 30 and became one of the most celebrated and influential writers of her age. The DVD covers her life and background and ends with an overview of her work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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GEORGE ORWELL

George Orwell 1903 - 1950

Orwell was born in India. He was educated at Eton College and in 1922 went out to Burma as a police officer. He returned to England in 1927 and determined to be a writer. In 1936 he went to join the civil war in Spain. He later worked for the BBC and The Observer. Just as he was becoming successful he died of tuberculosis. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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GOETHE

J W von Goethe 1749 - 1832

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt on Main, Germany, into a well-to-do family. He made some attempts to become a lawyer but eventually began writing poetry and novels. He was immediately successful. He joined the court of the Duke of Weimar and from there became accepted as the greatest writer of his age. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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HEMINGWAY

Ernest Hemingway 1899 - 1961

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, a wealthy suburb of Chicago. He became a reporter on the Kansas City Star at the age of 18, then went to Italy to serve for a few months in the war. His first novel was published in 1926 and he achieved tremendous popularity almost at once. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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HENRIK IBSEN

Henrik Ibsen 1828 - 1906

Henrik Ibsen was born in the small coastal town of Skien in Norway. His family were Middle class burghers. He worked as an apprentice to an apothecary before going to Oslo to study. He began writing plays which found little favour in Norway. He lived and wrote for about 30 years in Italy and Germany and became recognised worldwide as the greatest dramatist of his age and the Father of modern drama. The video traces his life and is followed by a brief overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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HENRY JAMES

Henry James 1843 - 1916

Henry James was born in New York in 1843. His parents were wealthy and his father a learned man with literary friends. He was educated in Europe and at Harvard University. His first major novel was published when he was 32. He lived most of his adult life in England. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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HERMAN MELVILLE

Herman Melville 1819 - 1891

Melville was born in New York. His father was a prosperous business man but the economic climate changed and the business failed. The family moved to his mother's home in New Albany and he went to Albany Academy. At twenty he went to sea and returned to write very popular books about his adventures. His success did not last and he died in obscurity. His work was rediscovered in the early 20th century. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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JAMES JOYCE

James Joyce 1882 - 1941

James Joyce was born in Dublin. He was sent first to a Jesuit school called Clongowes but had to leave after three years because his father could no longer afford the fees. He went to another Jesuit school in Dublin and then to University College there. He went to Paris in 1902 and rarely returned to Ireland. His writing was difficult to publish but he became one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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JANE AUSTEN

Jane Austen 1775 - 1817

Like most women of her time, Jane Austen lived out her life on home ground. Her adventurous brothers meant however that she was very much in touch with her age. Coupling this with her own remarkable personality she produced some of the finest novels in English literature. The DVD covers her life and background and ends with an overview of her work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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JOHN KEATS

John Keats 1795 - 1821

John Keats was born in London in 1795. His parents ran a livery stable. Orphaned at fourteen, he was apprenticed to an Apothecary. He began to write poetry however, living off a meagre inheritance. After making a remarkable impression on a number of friends he died of tuberculosis aged only 25 and leaving a body of poetry which was to astonish the world. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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JOHN STEINBECK

John Steinbeck 1902 - 1962

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas California in 1902. He studied literature at Stanford University. His first novel was published when he was twenty seven. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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JONATHAN SWIFT

Jonathan Swift 1667 - 1742

Swift was born in Dublin into a well off English protestant family. His father died and he was brought up and given the best possible education at the expense of his uncle. He was not grateful for this and his acid views on man's iniquities were the subject of his many writings. He worked for the English government and as a church administrator but loved and was much beloved by his friends. In Ireland he is seen as the first hero of the struggle against English dominance. The DVD traces his fascinating life and ends with an overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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MARCEL PROUST

Marcel Proust 1871 - 1922

Proust was born the son of a wealthy Parisian doctor and had an easy entry into the higher echelons of French society. His knowledge of this world was the background to the astonishing series of novels called A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). He did not have an early success but by the end of his life it was recognised that his work - sensitive, searching, amusing and amazingly perceptive about how humans work - was in a class of its own. The DVD traces his unusual life and ends with an overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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MARK TWAIN

Mark Twain 1835 - 1910

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorn Clemens in the small town of Florida Missouri. When he was four his parents moved the family to Hannibal, a larger town not far away on the banks of the Mississippi river. There he had an idyllic childhood which was to form the basis of some of his later novels. He began life as a river pilot then became a gold prospector. He finally began writing under the name Mark Twain and achieved immense success. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804 - 1864

Hawthorne was born in the New England seaport of Salem, Massachusetts. Steeped in the history of his Puritan forebears and at the same time a part of the astonishing development of the new American society, Hawthorne reflected powerfully in his novels the divisions and contradictions which drove the world about him and gave it its strength. The programme examines his life and ends with a summary of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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OSCAR WILDE

Oscar Wilde 1854 - 1900

Oscar Wilde was certainly one of the most brilliant writers of comedy for the English stage. The tale of his tragic downfall, caused by the society of his time condemning his private sexual life, has generally overshadowed the importance of his work. The film follows his early career and attempts to regain the balance between tragic figure and artist. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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P B SHELLEY

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822

Shelley was born in 1792 in a house in Surrey on the estate of his grandfather Sir Bysshe Shelley. He was educated at Syon House Academy in London and at Eton. In 1810 he went to University College Oxford and published his first poems. He was expelled from Oxford and lived variously in England and Italy where he died in a sailing accident off Leghorn in 1822 when he was thirty. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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ROBERT BURNS

Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

Robert Burns was born into a poor family in the little town of Alloway on the west coast of Scotland. He began to write poetry and by the age of twenty six had enough to publish. His book of poems was an instant success and he went to Edinburgh and was lionised by the literary folk as a ploughman poet. The DVD traces his life and is followed by a short overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 - 1894

Stevenson was born in Edinburgh the only child of middle class parents. He went to the University of Edinburgh and took a law degree but in spite of his parents' opposition he was intent on being a writer. He suffered from poor health throughout his life but was successful from early in his career. He died in Samoa celebrated the world over. He wrote many travel books and short stories but is best known for his novels. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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SHAKESPEARE

Shakespeare 1564 - 1616

Shakespeare was born in the country town of Stratford-upon-Avon.He was educated at the local grammar school. He went to London in 1588 to begin a life in the theatre. He was immensely successful and he is now recognised as the greatest dramatist of all time. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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SIR WALTER SCOTT

Sir Walter Scott 1771 - 1832

Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771. His father was a successful lawyer. In childhood he contracted polio which lamed him for life. He was not a very successful pupil at Edinburgh High School but went to the university to qualify as a lawyer. Writing poetry and novels soon became the activity for which he became world famous. He died in his beloved home of Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders in 1832. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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THE BRONTE SISTERS

The three Bronte sisters Charlotte (b.1816), Emily (b.1818) and Anne (b.1810) were all born in the village of Thornton in Yorkshire. They spent most of their lives not far away at Haworth where their father was vicar. They were largely educated at home. All three achieved their goal of becoming successful novelists. The programme follows their lives and their development as writers and ends with an overview of their work.

DVD / 35 minutes

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THOMAS HARDY

Thomas Hardy 1840 - 1928

Hardy was born near Dorchester in Dorset. His father was a stonemason. He was educated at local schools and trained as an architect. He went to London to further his career. He wrote his first novel when he was thirty-one and went on to have huge success. In later years he gave up novel writing for poetry. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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VICTOR HUGO

Victor Hugo 1803 - 1885

Victor Hugo was born the son of a General under Napoleon Bonaparte. At an early age he began writing and his career as a poet, playwright, novelist and even politician has rarely been equalled. His fearless stance for the rights of the common man endeared him to the French people but caused governments to drive him into exile. He lived for nineteen years in the English channel islands. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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VIRGINIA WOOLF

Virginia Woolf 1882 - 1941

Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882. Her father was Leslie Stephen, a writer and literary editor. She was educated privately and in 1912 married Leonard Woolf. He encouraged her to write and they began their own publishing house called the Hogarth Press. She took her own life in 1941.The DVD covers her life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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VOLTAIRE

Voltaire 1675 - 1788

Voltaire was born the son of a prominent lawyer and from his earliest days showed a precocious literary talent. He wrote plays and novels and historical and philosophical works his outspokeness constantly landed him in trouble with the authorities. He became the leading liberal voice of the French Enlightenment and he has had a worldwide influence ever since. The DVD traces his fascinating life and ends with an overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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W B YEATS

W B Yeats 1865 - 1939

William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin. His father was a successful artist and from an early age Yeats determined to be and was soon accepted as a poet. On the London literary scene he was a leading light and in Dublin was instrumental in setting up an Irish Theatre. He became the recognised poet of the Irish struggle for freedom and ended his long life as a senator and venerated patriarch of the new state. The DVD traces his life and ends with an overview of his works.


DVD / 35 minutes

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WALT WHITMAN

Walt Whitman 1819 - 1892

The poet Walt Whitman was born in a small village in Long Island, New York State in 1819. When he was quite young the family moved to Brooklyn where he received a modest education. He began work as a typesetter. He published his most famous book of poems "Leaves of Grass" in 1855 and gradually his reputation grew. He died in Camden New Jersey in 1892 already recognised as one of the outstanding voices of the American spirit. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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WILLIAM BLAKE

William Blake 1757 - 1827

William Blake was born the son of a hosier in the then respectable district of Soho in London. He had no formal education but was taught by his mother. He was a voracious reader and as a boy he drew constantly. He studied at an art school and learned the trade of engraving by which he lived. His painting and poetry were valued by a few but he died in poverty. The programme covers his life and background and explores the relevant events of his times.


DVD / 35 minutes

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WILLIAM FAULKNER

William Faulkner 1897 - 1962

Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi. His family was prosperous and well-known in the area. When he was five they moved to nearby Oxford which was to be his base and his inspiration for the rest of his life. He had a rather intermittent school and University education, published his first novel in 1928 and went on to build a solid reputation, receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1949. The DVD covers his life and background and ends with an overview of his work.


DVD / 35 minutes

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WORDSWORTH

William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850

Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth in the Lake District in 1770. His father ran the estate of a local landowner and the family lived in a large and comfortable house. He was well educated at the grammar school in nearby Hawkshead. He went to St John's College Cambridge in 1737. He lived most of his life in his beloved Lake District enjoying the fame he achieved as the greatest poet of the romantic age. The DVD covers his life and background.


DVD / 35 minutes

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