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Featured Poem: Seeking Beauty by William Henry Davies

February 23, 2015

Another month is nearly coming to a close, and with the approach of March around the corner we can look forward to lighter nights, bursts of Spring sunshine (we hope) and flowers and a renewed vibrancy all around. In these final days of Winter, it’s worth remembering that beauty can be found everywhere we look – perhaps sometimes it takes a little more than a passing glance to seek it out and it may even change from one day to the next, but it’s there to help keep us buoyed through the last icy blasts.

If you’re having trouble finding something beautiful to muse on this Monday, then it’s well worth reading this poem from William Henry Davies – and as St David’s Day is coming up at the weekend, it’s all the more appropriate (lots of beautiful things to be seen in Wales, where we’re sure W.H. Davies got some of his inspiration for this verse from).

Seeking Beauty

Cold winds can never freeze, nor thunder sour
The cup of cheer that Beauty draws for me
Out of those Azure heavens and this green earth —
I drink and drink, and thirst the more I see.

To see the dewdrops thrill the blades of grass,
Makes my whole body shake; for here’s my choice
Of either sun or shade, and both are green —
A Chaffinch laughs in his melodious voice.

The banks are stormed by Speedwell, that blue flower
So like a little heaven with one star out;
I see an amber lake of buttercups,
And Hawthorn foams the hedges round about.

The old Oak tree looks now so green and young,
That even swallows perch awhile and sing:
This is that time of year, so sweet and warm,
When bats wait not for stars ere they take wing.

As long as I love Beauty I am young,
Am young or old as I love more or less;
When Beauty is not heeded or seems stale,
My life’s a cheat, let Death end my distress.

William Henry Davies

The Globe on Tour presents Romeo and Juliet at Calderstones Mansion House

February 19, 2015

“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.”

Valentine’s Day might have passed for another year but we’ve got one of literature’s greatest love stories very much on our minds with some exciting news…

After two previous spellbinding visits, we’re delighted to announce that Shakespeare’s Globe is returning to Calderstones Mansion House this summer with the Bard’s classic and arguably most popular tale of two star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

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Following the versions of King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing that proved to be surefire crowd-pleasers with audiences in Liverpool, The Globe on Tour will visit the Garden Theatre again in July to present the tragic but compelling story. Following performances on the Globe’s stage, a small troupe of travelling players are taking to the road to perform a stripped-down version unlike anything seen before, breathing new life into one of the greatest of all love stories.

We’re sure you’re aware of how the tale goes, but in case you need a reminder…

An ongoing feud between two noble families, the Montagues and the Capulets, sets the scene for
Shakespeare’s first great tragedy on the streets of Verona. A violent street brawl between their rival families is the prelude to Romeo’s first encounter with Juliet. Despite this, and the fact Juliet has been promised to another, they fall in love. But any plans for their future happiness are cruelly destroyed by renewed violence between their families and tragedy begins to unfold.
The honour of playing the famous lovers falls to the appropriately named Samuel Valentine as Romeo and Cassie Layton as Juliet, joining a list including Adetomiwa Edun (Merlin, The Hour) and Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones, Being Human, The Diary of Anne Frank) who starred in The Globe’s previous production and of course star names including Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in what is considered to be the most-filmed play of all time.
If last year’s reviews are anything to go by, the Garden Theatre at Calderstones will provide the perfect romantic backdrop to set the scene:
Had a brilliant night watching ‘s ‘s beautiful outdoor theatre at . Magical!
Tickets for Romeo and Juliet at Calderstones Mansion House are now on sale, here’s the information on how you can get yours:
Performance dates:
Friday 24th July, 7.30pm
Saturday 25th July, 2.30pm
Saturday 25th July, 7.30pm
Ticket price: £20
(£15 concessions)
To purchase tickets online, please visit the Shakespeare Globe’s website. Note: there is a £2.50 transaction fee for online bookings.

Please contact The Globe’s Box Office on 020 7401 9919 if you want to book for a Group; if you require access bookings; if you have children U18 or would like to use Theatre Tokens.
N.B. Concessions do not apply to Senior citizens for theatre performances. Discounts cannot be applied retrospectively.


Shared reading group members and volunteers

The Reader Organisation has a limited number of £15 discounted tickets for shared reading group members and volunteers which can be obtained through your group leaders. Please note: these tickets are not available through The Globe’s website, only physically through group leaders.

The performances will take place outdoors so please bring a picnic rug or low-backed seat and suitable clothing for all weather conditions. The plays will go ahead in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

Tickets are likely to go fast, so make sure you snap yours up quickly!

We’ll keep you posted with all the news in the months to come, but in the meantime you can join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #RomeoandJuliet and #GlobeOnTour

Featured Poem: The Dreary Change by Sir Walter Scott

February 16, 2015

We’re advocates of poetry being read everywhere at The Reader Organisation – on the bus or train, in a park (as quite a few of us have done at our HQ at Calderstones), in the bath (though you run the risk of the words getting soggy)…the wonders of technology have helped overcome the pitfalls of the last option, and recently a wider-scale innovation has brought verse to the physical world. To mark the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite uprising, one of Sir Walter Scott’s poems has been projected onto the landscape in the Scottish highlands. On the Massacre of Glencoe commemorates one of the most significant events of the first Jacobite uprisings in the country when 38 members of the Clan MacDonald were killed by visiting government troops, and is just one verse of many tributes and songs to do so.

The rather breathtaking marriage of literature and nature is something to behold, especially when the words have such resonance with a certain area, such as Scott’s verse with Glencoe. You can view the beautiful effects of the projection here (thanks to Brain Pickings). Here’s another of Scott’s poems which casts an eye out to nature, relating it closely back to the person.

The Dreary Change (The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill)

The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill,
In Ettrick’s vale, is sinking sweet;
The westland wind is hush and still,
The lake lies sleeping at my feet.
Yet not the landscape to mine eye
Bears those bright hues that once it bore;
Though evening, with her richest dye,
Flames o’er the hills of Ettrick’s shore.

With listless look along the plain,
I see Tweed’s silver current glide,
And coldly mark the holy fane
Of Melrose rise in ruin’d pride.
The quiet lake, the balmy air,
The hill, the stream, the tower, the tree,
Are they still such as once they were?
Or is the dreary change in me?

Alas, the warp’d and broken board,
How can it bear the painter’s dye!
The harp of strain’d and tuneless chord,
How to the minstrel’s skill reply!
To aching eyes each landscape lowers,
To feverish pulse each gale blows chill;
And Araby’s or Eden’s bowers
Were barren as this moorland hill.

Sir Walter Scott

Love Between the Pages: Literature and Valentines

February 12, 2015

fitzgerald quoteValentine’s Day is around the corner, and it may be said that this most romantic time of year is best suited to the world of literature with all its declarations of love and legendary figures.

To give you that loving feeling, here’s a collection of loved-up literature lists from the internet that should warm your heart and perhaps help to woo the (other) book lover in your life…

Top 50 most romantic lines from literature (
The greatest works of literature are chock full of sentences to make you swoon and also stay within your soul once the chocolates have been eaten and the flowers have wilted. This selection includes beautiful lines from books and poems such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Wuthering Heights, Stop All The Clocks by W.H. Auden, and even Winnie the Pooh.

What is the Best Portrayal of a Marriage in Literature? (NY Times)
Writers Charles McGrath and Leslie Jamison give their take on what they believe to be the best fictional representations of matrimony in literature. Though not always the happiest of tales, they offer a number of recommendations including the Palliser series by Anthony Trollope.

25 Painfully Unrequited Love Stories from Literature (Flavorwire)
Love Against the Odds in Books (The Guardian Children’s Books site)

The path of true love never did run smooth, and tragic love stories can seem to be more common in literature than those that are blissful (take Romeo and Juliet as a prime example…), and it could be argued that it’s the tales of heartbreak and loss that resonate with us the most. Flavorwire presents a heartwrenching choice of literary love destined to go unfulfilled (no matter how many times you read them), while The Guardian presents stories that are full of romantic obstacles for any number of reasons, such as Pride and Prejudice and Noughts and Crosses.

16 Hilarious Dating Profiles of Famous Fictional Characters (Hodder and Stoughton)
Even wondered what it would look like if certain characters decided to sign up for online dating? Well, wonder no more, as some of the most well-known have had their profiles created. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day they remain something of a mystery – could you figure out who ‘Trimalchio17′ and ‘meek_and_mild82′ are?

And if all of this romance talk has left you rather forlorn, then remember that there’s always a place where you’re guaranteed to find love… (photo courtesy of @nationalbook)

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Featured Poem: A Modest Love by Sir Edward Dyer

February 9, 2015

Valentine’s Day is approaching at the end of this week – if for any reason you’re not feeling the love, then it’s worth reading this delightful poem by Sir Edward Dyer which – rather charmingly – highlights that there is love in everything if you look closely enough. To get away from the commercialism of the ‘holiday’ it also leaves us with a heartwarming and true thought at its centre; a sentiment that is worth bearing in mind before you venture to spend your pennies or pounds spoiling your loved one.

A Modest Love

The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
The fly her spleen, the little sparks their heat;
The slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
And bees have stings, although they be not great;
Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
And love is love, in beggars as in kings.

Where rivers smoothest run, deep are the fords;
The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move;
The firmest faith is in the fewest words;
The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love:
True hearts have eyes and ears, no tongues to speak;
They hear and see, and sigh, and then they break.

Sir Edward Dyer

30 Minutes Reading a Week Can Improve Your Life

February 5, 2015

A report released today by our research partner the University of Liverpool’s CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society) in partnership with Quick Reads commissioned by Galaxy® chocolate highlights the key benefits reading can have on the nation’s wellbeing. Statistics in the report Reading Between the Lines: The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure find that those who read for just 30 minutes per week are 20% more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Other findings show that of the 16 million lapsed readers in the UK 42% of people aren’t reading because they’re unable to find the time to do so.
One of the greatest benefits of being a reader within the report was shown in the analysis regarding empathy. With just 30 minutes of reading a week, as many as two thirds of readers (64%) reported a better understanding of other people’s feelings versus less than half (48%) of non-readers.

Further compelling benefits to reading revealed in the study were:
– 43% of readers said reading helped them get a better night’s sleep
– 19% of readers said reading stopped them feeling lonely
– Regular readers reported 57% greater cultural awareness and 21% more general knowledge
– Readers reported higher levels of creativity (48%) than non-readers (38%)
– Readers were found to be 27% better able to make time for their friends, perhaps as they were 10% more capable of planning and prioritising


Dr. Josie Billington from the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at
The University of Liverpool said: “Whilst the cumulative societal benefits of reading have been widely acknowledged, it’s important also to recognise the gains to be had from reading on our personal health and wellbeing.”

Here at The Reader Organisation we continue to work to highlight the important effects of reading for pleasure and are working to reach out to many lapsed readers and non-readers of all ages through our nationwide shared reading groups. By improving self-confidence and self-esteem, building social networks, widening horizons and giving people a sense of belonging, shared reading groups promote and provide a holistic approach to wellbeing and have provided positive impacts within the culture of partner organisations. They allow people to re-ignite their love of reading in a safe and welcoming environment where core human stories within books connect readers to themselves and other group members.
“I didn’t do reading before, but it’s fun and I love it now. Reading aloud is better than in your head. It’s like you’re on an adventure, you can understand more aloud.” Looked-after child reading in one-to-one session
“Other staff catch our enthusiasm. It’s like laughter in the way that it’s contagious; we come out of the group buzzing, the buzz comes out with us, and the other staff catch some of that.” Rachel, Mersey Care NHS Trust
If you’re interested in the benefits of reading, just enjoy a good book or are looking to make new friends then you can find your nearest shared reading group at alternatively give us a call on 0151 729 2200 and ask about groups in your area.

You can read the full Reading Between the Lines: The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure report here.

Featured Poem: When the Shy Star Goes Forth in Heaven by James Joyce

February 2, 2015

Today would have been James Joyce’s 133rd birthday – though he is most well known for novels including Ulysses, Finnegans Wake and  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he published a number of volumes of poetry during his life. To celebrate, why not take some time to read one of them, which we’ve chosen as this week’s Featured Poem.

When the Shy Star Goes Forth in Heaven

When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.

O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling,
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lover’s chant,
‘Tis I that am your visitant.

James Joyce


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