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First-time look at Prince Philip's school report

<p>The school that had a lasting impact on Prince Philip has released a report on the Duke's time there, describing him as someone who was liked and trusted by all.</p> <p>The Duke of Edinburgh attended Gordonstoun School in Moray, in the northeast of Scotland, from the age of 13, from 1934 until 1939.</p> <p>The school was established by Dr Kurt Hahn, a German Jew who fled Germany after he was arrested for speaking out against Hitler.</p> <p>Dr Hahn was considered an educational pioneer and established Gordonstoun to focus on military discipline, physical education and academia.</p> <p>But despite Prince Philip enjoying his time there, his son Prince Charles famously hated his experience and described it as "absolute hell".</p> <p>Dr Hahn was asked to write a report about Philip's time at the school shortly before his engagement to then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947.</p> <p>Buckingham Palace has now released the report for the first time, as they were originally set to include it as part of Prince Philip's 100th birthday celebrations in June.</p> <p>The headmaster's report covers the three years Philip was enrolled at Gordonstoun before he left to attend the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.</p> <p>Dr Hahn noted Philip had "meticulous attention to detail" and was "never content with mediocre results".</p> <p>"His marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt," Dr Hahn wrote.</p> <p>He mentioned Philip, who at the time was known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, never enjoyed the attention he received for being a royal.</p> <p>"He had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense," Dr Hahn said.</p> <p>"After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself 'The Earl of Baldwin' to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter."</p> <p>Gordonstoun was set up as the British version of Salem School in Germany, where Dr Hahn served as headmaster prior to fleeing.</p> <p>Philip was set to spend a year at Salem but was removed from the school by one of his sisters in 1934.</p> <p>Dr Hahn described that event as a move to protect the young prince.</p> <p>"This was the reason for the suddenness of Philip's transfer: whenever the Nazi salute was given he roared with laughter. After he had been admonished to caution, he continued to be doubled up in uncontrollable mirth," he said.</p> <p>"He no longer roared, but nevertheless attracted universal attention. 'We thought it better for him and also for us if he returned to England right away,' said his sister who brought him to Gordonstoun."</p> <p>The records show Prince Philip excelled in cricket and hockey and was made head boy, or school captain, in his final year.</p> <p>Dr Hahn went on to reveal that Philip found the school's strenuous program easy, which often lead to bouts of "intolerance and impatience".</p> <p>"When he was in the middle-school, he got into a fair number of scrapes through recklessness and wildness," Dr Hahn said.</p> <p>"He was often naughty, never nasty."</p> <p>Philip frequently showed "an ease and forthrightness in dealing with ... all kinds".</p>

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Duchess Kate’s exciting new venture

<p><span>The Duchess of Cambridge launched her Hold Still photography project in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery last year.</span><br /><br /><span>The endeavour aimed to encourage those in the UK to document their experiences during the pandemic.</span><br /><br /><span>“We’ve all been struck by some of the incredible images we’ve seen which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country,” she said.</span><br /><br /><span>“Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.</span><br /><br /><span>“Hold Still aims to capture a portrait of the nation, the spirit of the nation, what everyone is going through at this time. Photographs reflecting resilience, bravery, kindness – all those things that people are experiencing.”</span><br /><br /><span>The heartfelt project is now turning into a photography book called Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020.</span><br /><br /><span>Inside, it will feature 100 portraits from the project, along with accompanying stories, and a foreword from the Duchess herself.</span><br /><br /><span>“When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced – the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers,” the royal wrote.</span><br /><br /><span>“But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal.</span><br /><br /><span>“Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic,” she continues.</span><br /><br /><span>“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit an image – your stories are the most crucial part of this project. I hope that the final 100 images showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this extraordinary moment in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period.”</span><br /><br /><span>The new book will be available both online and in bookstores in the UK starting May 7.</span><br /><br /><span>The sales will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery.</span></p>

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"She left me a poem": Samuel Johnson dedicates book to late mum

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Samuel Johnson has made a touching tribute to his late mum while launching his latest book, a book of letters to mums.</p> <p>He shared his story on his charity Love Your Sister's Facebook page, which raises funds for cancer research as his oldest sister Connie battled the disease before passing away.</p> <p>Johnson shared that his mother took her life when he was just three years old.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Floveyoursister%2Fposts%2F3901552789939707&amp;width=500&amp;show_text=true&amp;height=553&amp;appId" width="500" height="553" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; picture-in-picture; web-share"></iframe></p> <p>He told his followers that she left him a handwritten poem, that reads:</p> <p><em>All the seas of joy,</em></p> <p><em>Rise to sing for you boy,</em></p> <p><em>Surge and swell, and roar.</em></p> <p><em>All the seas of joy,</em></p> <p><em>Sound wonderfully near,</em></p> <p><em>Since you've been here.</em></p> <p>"That was my mum. Some crazy poet lady who found life a most onerous undertaking," Samuel wrote.</p> <p>"There exists only one photo of me and my mum, and that's always OK because I have that poem, burnt into my heart."</p> <p>He said that his older sister Connie felt the impacts of their mother's suicide more deeply than he did.</p> <p>"From a very early age, she was determined to become a mum and to see her kids through," he continued.</p> <p>"She was extraordinary. Connie became the mum our mum could never be, to two young sons. Now, like me, her boys are motherless."</p> <p>Connie died at age 40 after battling cancer three separate times in her lifetime.</p> <p><em>Dear Mum</em><span> </span>is a collection of letters written by famous Aussies, including Amanda Keller, Peter Helliar, Rebecca Gibney, Patti Newton and many more.</p> <p>"It serves as a fitting homage to mums and the importance of them ... it's a beautiful montage, for all kinds of mums," Johnson explained.</p> <p>"I put everything in on this one. And now I think of it, I'd like to dedicate this book to my mum. I suspect she'd be pretty puffy about this one."</p> </div> </div> </div>

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Six Dr Seuss books removed over racist imagery

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published as they contain racist and insensitive imagery.</p> <p>"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," Dr Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author's legacy, said on Tuesday.</p> <p>"Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr Seuss Enterprises' catalogue represents and supports all communities and families."</p> <p>The six books that will no longer be published are:</p> <ul> <li><em>And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street</em></li> <li><em>If I Ran The Zoo</em></li> <li><em>McElligot's Pool</em></li> <li><em>On Beyond Zebra!</em></li> <li><em>Scrambled Eggs Super!</em></li> <li><em>The Cat's Quizzer</em></li> </ul> <p>The decision to cease sales and publication of these books was made last year after months of discussion.</p> <p>"Dr Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process," it said.</p> <p>"We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalogue of titles."</p> <p>Books by Dr Seuss are popular worldwide, as they've been translated into dozens of languages and are sold in more than 100 countries.</p> <p>Despite passing away in 1991, he earned an estimated 42.3 million before taxes in 2020.</p> <p>However, school districts across the US are moving away from Dr Suess as many believe that Suess' works are "steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes".</p> <p>Dr Seuss Enterprises, however, said it was "committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio".</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Successful people do these 8 things each weekend

<p>Time management expert Laura Vanderkam reveals the subtle secrets to restorative and productive weekends in her book What Successful People Do Before Breakfast.</p> <p>Flex different skills<br />Your weekends need to feel different from your weekdays, which happens if you rotate in different activities and hobbies you don’t have time to do during the week, Laura Vanderkam shares in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. For examples, she notes that celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plays soccer, television correspondent Bill McGowan chops firewood, and architect Rafael Vinoly plays piano. (Check out these other characteristics of wildly successful people.) Doing a different kind of labour allows your mind and body to recover from the typical stresses you encounter during the week.</p> <p>Plan it out<br />In today’s distracted world, no weekend plan likely means you’ll end up mindlessly watching television or browsing the internet. “Failing to think through what you wish to do on the weekend may make you succumb to the ‘I’m tired’ excuse that keeps you locked in the house,” she writes. You don’t need a micromanaged, minute-by-minute playbook, but sketch in three to five “anchor” activities. Planning also lets you savour the joy of anticipating something fun; psychology research shows we’re often happier anticipating an event, like a holiday, than we are during or after it.</p> <p>Do something fun on Sunday night<br />Dampen those Sunday night blues by giving yourself something to look forward to. “This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning,” according to Vanderkam. You could make a tradition of a big dinner with your extended family, take an early-evening yoga class, or find a volunteer opportunity, such as serving meals to those less fortunate.</p> <p>Maximise your mornings<br />Weekend mornings tend to be wasted time, notes Vanderkam – cleaning up toys, throwing in laundry, flipping through programs you’ve recorded through the week. But if you’re willing to get up before your family, they’re great for personal pursuits, like training for a marathon. “It’s less disruptive for your family if you get up early to do your four-hour run than if you try to do it in the middle of the day,” she explains.</p> <p>Create traditions<br />Happy families often have special activities they do most weekends that don’t require special planning – Friday night pizza, a walk to religious services, Sunday morning pancakes. “These habits are what become memories,” she writes. “And comforting rituals boost happiness.”</p> <p>Schedule nap time<br />It’s not just for toddlers. Encouraging your whole family to have rest time in the mid- to late afternoon ensures you’ll actually take the time out of your busy schedules to let your body rest and recuperate.</p> <p>Compress chores<br />We know what you’re thinking: When else am I supposed to get errands done? Rather than let them take over your whole weekend, Vanderkam suggests that you designate a chore time, maybe on Saturday while you wait for the babysitter to come or for a designated period on Sunday mornings. “Giving yourself a small window makes you more motivated to get chores done quickly so you can move on to the fun things,” she writes.</p> <p>Cut down on tech<br />Even if you’re not religious, observing a “technology Sabbath” is good for your brain. “A stretch of time apart from the computer, phone and work stresses creates space for other things in life,” says Vanderkam. (It’s especially true if you show these signs you’re addicted to your phone.) Encouraging your whole family to put away their smartphones for a day, or even a few hours, forces you to have a different relationship with your spouse, friends, and kids. If you need to work on the weekends, consider a specific window to finish a project or sort through your inbox, rather than periodically checking and writing back to emails all day long.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Lauren Gelman</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/successful-people-do-these-8-things-each-weekend"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Empathy starts early: 5 Australian picture books that celebrate diversity

<p>Early exposure to diverse story characters, including in ethnicity, gender and ability, helps young people develop a strong sense of identity and belonging. It is also crucial in cultivating compassion towards others.</p> <p>Children from minority backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in the books they’re exposed to. Research over the past two decades shows the world presented in children’s books is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class.</p> <p>A 2020 study in four Western Australian childcare centres showed only 18% of books available included non-white characters. Animal characters made up around half the books available and largely led “human” lives, adhering to the values of middle-class Caucasians.</p> <p>In our recent research of award-winning and shortlisted picture books, we looked at diversity in representations of Indigenous Australians, linguistically and culturally diverse characters, characters from regional or rural Australia, gender, sex and sexually diverse characters, and characters with a disability.</p> <p>From these, we have compiled a list of recommended picture books that depict each of these five aspects of diversity.</p> <p>Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander characters<br />Tom Tom, by Rosemary Sullivan and Dee Huxley (2010), depicts the daily life of a young Aboriginal boy Tom (Tommy) in a fictional Aboriginal community — Lemonade Springs. The community’s landscape, in many ways, resembles the Top End of Australia.</p> <p>Tom’s 22 cousins and other relatives call him Tom Tom. His day starts with a swim with cousins in the waters of Lemonade Springs, which is covered with budding and blossoming water lilies. The children swing on paperbark branches and splash into the water. Tom Tom walks to Granny Annie’s for lunch and spends the night at Granny May’s. At preschool, he enjoys painting.</p> <p>Through this picture book, non-Indigenous readers will have a glimpse of the intimate relationship between people and nature and how, in Lemonade Springs, a whole village comes together to raise a child.</p> <p>Characters from other cultures<br />That’s not a daffodil! by Elizabeth Honey (2012) is a story about a young boy’s (Tom) relationship with his neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, who comes from Turkey. Together, Tom and Mr Yilmaz plant, nurture and watch a seed grow into a beautiful daffodil.</p> <p>The author uses the last page of the book to explain that, in Turkish, Mr Yilmaz’s name does not have a dotted “i”, as in the English alphabet, and his name should be pronounced “Yuhlmuz”.</p> <p>While non-white characters, Mr Yilmaz and his grandchildren, only play supporting roles in the story, the book nevertheless captures the reality of our everyday encounters with neighbours from diverse ethnic backgrounds.</p> <p>Characters from rural Australia<br />All I Want for Christmas is Rain, by Cori Brooke and Megan Forward (2017), depicts scenery and characters from regional or rural Australia. The story centres on the little girl Jane’s experience of severe drought on the farm.</p> <p>The story can encourage students’ discussion of sustainability.</p> <p>In terms of diversity, it is equally important to meet children living in remote and regional areas as it is to see children’s lives in the city.</p> <p>Gender non-conforming characters<br />Granny Grommet and Me, by Dianne Wolfer and Karen Blair (2014), is full of beautiful illustrations of the Australian beach and surfing grannies.</p> <p>Told from the first-person point of view, it documents the narrator’s experiences of going snorkelling, surfing and rockpool swimming with granny and her grommet (amateur surfer) friends.</p> <p>In an age of parents’ increasing concern about gender stereotyping (blue for boy, pink for girl) of story characters in popular culture, Granny Grommet and Me’s representation of its main character “Me” is uniquely free from such bias.</p> <p>The main character wears a black wetsuit and a white sunhat and is not named in the book (a potential means of assigning gender).</p> <p>This gender-neutral representation of the character does not reduce the pleasure of reading this book. And it shows we can minimise attributes that symbolise stereotypes such as clothing, other accessories and naming.</p> <p>Characters living with a disability<br />Boy, by Phil Cummings and Shane Devries (2018), is a story about a boy who is Deaf.</p> <p>He uses sign language to communicate but people who live in the same village rarely understand him. That is, until he steps into the middle of a war between the king and the dragon that frightens the villagers.</p> <p>He resolves the conflict using his unique communication style and the villagers resolve to learn to communicate better with him by learning his language.</p> <p><em>Written by Ping Tian and Helen Caple. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/empathy-starts-early-5-australian-picture-books-that-celebrate-diversity-153629">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Peter FitzSimmons and Stan Grant's falling out over “unfair” chapter

<p><span>Peter FitzSimons and his former mate, Stan Grant, have had a major fall out over his portrayal of the Wallabies player turned author and his wife Lisa Wilkinson in a new book.</span><br /><br /><span>Grant contributed to <em>The Australian’s</em> serialised murder mystery, <em>Oh Matilda : Who Bloody Killed Her?</em> – and mentioned “Fitzy and Lisa’s Australia Day barbecue at their grand house overlooking Sydney Harbour”.</span><br /><br /><span>What unfolded was an unflattering description of FitzSimons and his wife, which in result reignited a deep-seated rift between the pair.</span><br /><br /><span>The former friends publicly fell out in April of 2020 over a disagreement about Captain James Cook’s legacy, and traded barbs in the pages of <em>The Sydney Morning Herald.</em></span><br /><br /><span>In an opinion piece at the time, Grant, who is a Wiradjuri man, accused FitzSimons of making Cook “the prototypical Aussie good bloke”.</span><br /><br /><span>He added that his description of the explorer as being far from “an enthusiastic imperialist” was “ludicrous”.</span><br /><br /><span>However, FiitzSimons defended his work and said that it had been meticulously researched by his team over the course of four years.</span><br /><br /><span>Grant’s <em>Oh Matilda</em> chapter set their relationship on fire again, with reports claiming it resulted in a terse text message exchange and “the complete collapse of their relationship”.</span><br /><br /><span>FitzSimons’ and Wilkinson’s annual Australia Day party has been renowned as one of Sydney’s most prestigious socialite events of the year and was also the backdrop of Grant’s piece of fiction.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CKEI28dl5PB/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CKEI28dl5PB/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><br /><span>“It’s like one of those ‘end of year cartoons’ you see in the newspapers: every time you turn around, you bump into somebody more famous than the last person,” one former guest told The Australian today.</span><br /><br /><span>In Grant’s piece of work, he described one of the characters as “what a woke leftie love-in that was”.</span><br /><br /><span>“Journos, actors, writers, a couple of ex-Wallabies (well it was the north shore), a few washed up politicians, even a couple of Liberals (small 1 of course) and a former managing director of the ABC for good measure,” the chapter reads.</span><br /><br /><span>“Everyone there voted yes for same-sex marriage – the year before last, they’d all tearily applauded their first gay married couple guests – they hated the Catholic Church and had cried when Kevin Rudd said sorry.”</span><br /><br /><span>When referring to FitzSimons and Wilkinson, jet said they “adored Indigenous culture. There were dot paintings on the wall, a photo with their arms around Cathy Freeman at Sydney Olympic Stadium and a framed copy of Paul Keating’s Redfern Statement signed by the last great Australian Prime Minister himself.”</span><br /><br /><span>Things “did get a bit weird” for the novel’s character, Indigenous woman Matilda Meadows, “when Fitzy excitedly gave her a copy of his latest book, a biography of Captain Cook”.</span><br /><br /><span>“Apparently Cookie was actually not a bad bloke once you got past his order to open fire on the blacks at Botany Bay,” the character said.</span><br /><br /><span>Woke Grant told the paper he was trying to “be a bit silly and have a crack about race, political correctness, left-lovey society”, it may have just hit a little too close to home for FitzSimons.</span><br /><br /><span>“It’s always been Chatham House (rules) – nobody takes photos or tweets or hashtags; it’s private hospitality, and I think what’s put Pete out is he invited Stan into his home, and three years later got sideswiped,” the former party guest said.</span><br /><br /><span><em>The Australian</em> has reported that FitzSimons felt Grant’s words were unfair.</span><br /><br /><span>He was also reportedly concerned that many of the details – like him owning a framed copy of the Redfern Speech or a picture of himself with Cathy Freeman – were completely untrue.</span><br /><br /><span>But Grant has maintained the chapter was obviously and clearly fictional, telling <em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em>: “I mock myself as much as anyone else in it”.</span><br /><br /><span>The 57-year-old told friends “there are more important things to worry about in the world” than FitzSimons’ reaction to the piece.</span><br /><br /><span>“People who can’t laugh at themselves aren’t one of them,” he also said.</span></p>

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Abused, neglected, abandoned — did Roald Dahl hate children as much as the witches did?

<p>Described as “the world’s greatest storyteller”, Roald Dahl is frequently ranked as the best children’s author of all time by teachers, authors and librarians.</p> <p>However, the new film adaptation of Dahl’s controversial book, The Witches, warrants a fresh look at a recurrent contrast in Dahl’s work: child protection and care on one hand and a preoccupation with child-hatred, including child neglect and abuse, abandonment, and torture on the other.</p> <p>Dahl himself once admitted he simultaneously admired and envied children. While his stories spotlight children’s vulnerability to trauma, his child protagonists show how childhood can be an isolating but ultimately triumphant experience.</p> <p><strong>Anti-child or child-centred?</strong><br />While Dahl’s fans champion his “child-centredness” — arguing that anarchy and vulgarity are central to childhood — Dahl’s critics have ventured to suggest his work contains anti-child messages.</p> <p>In Dahl’s fiction, children are often described unfavourably: they are “stinkers”, “disgusting little blisters”, “vipers”, “imps”, “spoiled brats”, “greedy little thieves”, “greedy brutes”, “robber-bandits”, “ignorant little twits”, “nauseating little warts”, “witless weeds”, and “moth-eaten maggots”.</p> <p>Frightening female character on stage. Children behind.<br />The cruel and imposing figure of Miss Trunchbull in the stage musical Matilda. MANUEL HARLAN/Royal Shakespeare Company/AAP<br />With the exception of Bruce Bogtrotter, “bad” children are usually unpleasant gluttons who are punished for being spoiled or overweight. Augustus Gloop is ostracised because of his size. After he tumbles into Willy Wonka’s chocolate river and is sucked up the glass pipe, he’s physically transformed. “He used to be fat,” Grandpa Joe marvels. “Now he’s as thin as straw!”</p> <p>From Miss Trunchbull to the Twits, Aunts Spiker and Sponge, and even Willy Wonka, many of Dahl’s adult characters are merciless figures who enjoy inflicting physical and emotional pain on children.</p> <p>In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka not only orchestrates the various “accidents” that occur at the factory, but he stands by indifferently as each child suffers.</p> <p>In Wonka’s determination to make the “rotten ones” pay for their moral failings, he not only humiliates the children (and their parents), but permanently marks the “bad” children through physical disfigurement. When gum-chewing champion Violet Beauregarde turns purple, Wonka is indifferent. “Ah well,” he says. “There’s nothing we can do about that”.</p> <p><strong>Red-hot sizzling hatred</strong><br />The Witches is centred around the theme of child-hatred.</p> <p>“Real witches,” we are told, “hate children with a red-hot sizzing hatred that is more sizzling and red-hot than any hatred you could possibly imagine”. At their hands (or claws), young children are not only mutilated but exterminated.</p> <p>Indeed, the ultimate goal of The Grand High Witch is filicide: she plans to rid the world of children — “disgusting little carbuncles” — by tricking them into eating chocolate laced with her malevolent Formula 86: Delayed Action Mouse-Maker.</p> <p>In The Witches, as in many of Dahl’s fictions for children (he also wrote adult erotica), authoritarian figures are revealed as bigoted and hypocritical, or violent and sadistic. Primary caregivers are neglectful or absent.</p> <p>So the real threats to the child protagonists of The Witches, Matilda and James and The Giant Peach are not monsters under the bed, but adults whose hatred of children is disguised behind a mask of benevolence.</p> <p>In The Witches, the young narrator initially finds comfort in the fact he has encountered such “splendid ladies” and “wonderfully kind people”, but soon the facade crumbles.</p> <p>“Down with children!” he overhears the witches chant. “Do them in! Boil their bones and fry their skin! Bish them, sqvish them, bash them, mash them!”</p> <p><strong>Necessary evil</strong><br />Although the violence present in Dahl’s work can be easily perceived as morbid, antagonism towards children is a necessary part of Dahl’s project.</p> <p>The initial disempowerment of the child lays the groundwork for the “underdog” narrative. It allows downtrodden children to emerge victorious by outwitting their tormentors through their resourcefulness and a little magic.</p> <p>Initially, violence is used to reinforce the initial “victimhood” of the child, then it is repurposed in the latter stages of each tale to punish and overcome the perpetrator of the mistreatment.</p> <p>James’s wicked aunts get their comeuppance when they’re squashed by the giant peach. In The BFG, kidnapped orphan Sophie emerges as the unlikely hero, saving herself and exerting a positive influence on her captor.</p> <p>Dahl’s fiction is perhaps considered dangerous for a different reason: it takes children seriously.</p> <p>The author dispenses humour alongside his descriptions of violence to create a less threatening atmosphere for young readers. Children revel in the confronting depictions even while being shocked or repulsed. Dahl — perhaps drawing on childhood trauma of his own — creates a cathartic outlet for children to release tension through laughter, especially at situations that may tap into the reader’s experiences of helplessness.</p> <p>Such fiction provides children a means of empowerment. Seeing themselves reflected in literature can be an important part of a child’s processing of adversity.</p> <p>Dahl’s work raises important questions about the safety of children, encouraging them to find their power in the most disempowering situations.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kate Cantrell, India Bryce and Jessica Gildersleeve. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/abused-neglected-abandoned-did-roald-dahl-hate-children-as-much-as-the-witches-did-152813">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Fergie taps into personal lineage for her inspired first novel

<p><span>Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson has a new fictional novel coming to the shelf, which is inspired by her family history.</span><br /><br /><span>The Duchess of York has taken on the challenge of portraying her great-great-aunt Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas and is set to be released in August.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839480/sarah-ferguson-novel-a-heart-for-the-compass.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b07cae45e9f24b41b7caf25fc7536780" /><br /><br /><span>The former wife of Prince Andrew has released children's books in the past, but became inspired for her new novel when she was “researching” her ancestry.</span><br /><br /><span>“Digging into the history of the Montagu-Douglas Scotts, I first came across Lady Margaret, who intrigued me because she shared one of my given names,” she said.</span><br /><br /><span>“But although her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, were close friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I was unable to discover much about my namesake’s early life, and so was born the idea which became Her Heart for a Compass.</span><br /><br /><span>“With real historical events and facts to hand, my imagination took over.”<br /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839478/sarah-ferguson-novel-a-heart-for-the-compass-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e8539deadd15429689a5a634e773b11f" /></span><br /><br /><span>The 61-year-old went on to say: “I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events, including some of my other ancestors.</span><br /><br /><span>“I created a friendship between my heroine and Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s sixth child, and I drew on many parallels from my life for Lady Margaret’s journey.</span><br /><br /><span>“I have long held a passion for historical research and telling the stories of strong women in history through film and television.</span><br /><br /><span>“I am proud to bring my personal brand of historical fiction to the publishing world.”</span><br /><br /><span>Despite Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson divorcing in 1996, the pair still remain great friends and live together at the Royal Lodge in London.</span></p>

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The Wind in the Willows — a tale of wanderlust, male bonding, and timeless delight

<p>Like several classics penned during the golden age of children’s literature, The Wind in the Willows was written with a particular child in mind.</p> <p>Alastair Grahame was four years old when his father Kenneth — then a secretary at the Bank of England — began inventing bedtime stories about the reckless ruffian, Mr Toad, and his long-suffering friends: Badger, Rat, and Mole.</p> <p>Alastair, born premature and partially blind, was nicknamed “Mouse”. Small, squinty, and beset by health problems, he was bullied at school. His rapture in the fantastic was later confirmed by his nurse, who recalled hearing Kenneth “up in the night-nursery, telling Master Mouse some ditty or other about a toad”.</p> <p>The Wind in the Willows evolved from Alastair’s bedtime tales into a series of letters Grahame later sent his son while on holiday in Littlehampton. In the story, a quartet of anthropomorphised male animals wander freely in a pastoral land of leisure and pleasure — closely resembling the waterside haven of Cookham Dean where Grahame himself grew up.</p> <p>In peaceful retreat from “The Wide World”, Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad spend their days chatting, philosophising, pottering, and ruminating on the latest fashions and fads. But when the daredevil, Toad, takes up motoring, he becomes entranced by wild fantasies of the road. His concerned friends must intervene to restrain his whims, teaching him “to be a sensible toad”.</p> <p>Unlike Toad’s recuperative ending, however, Alastair’s story did not end happily. In the spring of 1920, while a student at Oxford, he downed a glass of port before taking a late night stroll. The next morning, railway workers found his decapitated body on tracks near the university. An inquest determined his death a likely suicide but out of respect for his father, it was recorded as an accident.</p> <p>Kenneth Grahame, by all accounts, never recovered from the loss of his only child. He became increasingly reclusive, eventually abandoning writing altogether.</p> <p>In his will, he gifted the original manuscript of Willows to the Bodleian Library, along with the copyrights and all his royalties. Upon his death in 1932, he was buried in Oxford next to his first reader, Mouse.</p> <p>A ‘gay manifesto’?<br />Biographical readings are a staple in children’s literature, and the criticism surrounding The Wind in the Willows is no exception. First published in 1908 — the same year as Anne of Green Gables and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz — the novel was initially titled The Mole and the Water-Rat. After back and forth correspondence with Grahame, his publisher Sir Algernon Methuen wrote to say he had settled on The Wind in the Willows because of its “charming and wet sound”.</p> <p>Today, one of the mysteries surrounding the novel is the meaning of the title. The word “willows” does not appear anywhere in the book; the single form “willow” appears just twice.</p> <p>When Willows was first released in Britain it was marketed as an allegory — “a fantastic and whimsical satire upon life”, featuring a cast of woodland and riverside creatures who were closer to an Edwardian gentlemen’s club than a crowd of animals. Indeed, the adventures structuring the novel are the meanderings of old English chaps nostalgic for another time.</p> <p>The four friends, though different in disposition, are bound by their “divine discontent and longing”.</p> <p>Restless enough to be easily bewitched, they are rich enough to fill their days with long picnics and strolls. Most chapters are sequenced in chronological order, but the action revolves around different types of wandering – pottering around the garden, messing about in boats, rambling along country lanes.</p> <p>With the exception of a brief encounter with a jailer’s daughter, an overweight barge woman, and a careless mother hedgehog, there are no women in Willows. And excluding a pair of young hedgehogs and a group of field mice, all male, there are no children either.</p> <p>Given the novel’s strong homosocial subtext and absence of female characters, the story is often read as an escapist fantasy from Grahame’s unhappy marriage to Elspeth Thomson. Peter Hunt, an eminent scholar of Willows, describes the couple’s relationship as “sexually arid” and suggests Grahame’s sudden resignation from the bank in 1908 was due to bullying on the basis of his sexuality.</p> <p>Indeed, Hunt ventures to call the book “a gay manifesto”, reading it as a gay allegory heavy with suppressed desire and latent homoeroticism. In one scene, for example, Mole and Rat “shake off their garments” and “tumble in-between the sheets in great joy and contentment”.</p> <p>Earlier, while sharing a bed in the open air, Mole “reaches out from under his blanket, feels for the Rat’s paw in the darkness, and gives it a squeeze.” “I’ll do whatever you like, Ratty,” he whispers.</p> <p>For this reason, and others, some critics suggest that Willows is not a children’s book at all, but a novel for adults that can be enjoyed by children.</p> <p>Conservatism<br />Whether we read Willows as a simple animal story or a social satire, the narrative reinforces the status quo. Badger, for instance, resembles a gruff headmaster whose paternal concern for his friends extends to an earnest attempt to reform the inebriate Toad.</p> <p>Toad is a recognisable type of schoolboy, charming and impulsive but wildly arrogant and lacking self-control. In the end, he is punished for his foolish behaviour and forced to forgo his flamboyant egotism in humble resignation at Toad Hall. Similarly, Mole and Ratty are afflicted by wanderlust, but inevitably retreat to their cosy, subterranean homes. All of Grahame’s animals return to their “proper” place.</p> <p>This return to civility and quiet domesticity exemplifies a criticism often levelled at children’s literature: that such stories are more about the fears and desires of adults than those of children. (Alice in Wonderland, for instance, emphasises the importance of curiosity and imagination, but is also an attempt to socialise children into responsible citizenship.)</p> <p>Willows is a story about homecoming and friendship, but also a psychodrama about uncontrolled behaviour and addiction in Edwardian England.</p> <p>Creatures of habit<br />Perhaps the most famous scene in Willows — now also a popular ride at Disneyland — is Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. In the novel, the incautious Toad, who is oddly large enough to drive a human-sized car, is frequently in trouble with the law and even imprisoned due to his addiction to joyriding.</p> <p>At times delusional, the self-proclaimed “terror of the highway” writes off several vehicles before spiralling into a cycle of car theft, dangerous driving, and disorderly behaviour.</p> <p>Eventually, Toad’s motorcar mania becomes so unmanageable that his exasperated friends are forced to stage “a mission of mercy” – a “work of rescue” that contemporary readers might recognise as an intervention. This subtext of addiction underpins the arc of recovery, and is crucial for understanding the novel’s key themes: the limits of friendship, the loss of pastoral security, and the temptations of city life.</p> <p>Interestingly, in Badger’s attempt to help Toad break the cycle of withdrawal and recovery, and in Toad’s temporary abatement and relapse, the text points to another form of addiction: to alcohol.</p> <p>When Toad is banished to his country retreat — a typical “cure” for upper-class alcoholism at the time — Badger stresses he will remain in enforced confinement “until the poison has worked itself out of his system” and his “violent paroxysms” have passed.</p> <p>Again, the biographical foundation of the work is clear. Grahame’s father, Cunningham, was an alcoholic whose heavy drinking resulted, like Toad’s intoxication, in social exile, financial strain, and the loss of the family home.</p> <p>In The Wind in the Willows, Grahame employs animals to render all the ups and downs of human experience. In doing so, he captures the conflict and consonance between freedom and captivity, tradition and modernity.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kate Cantrell. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/guide-to-the-classics-the-wind-in-the-willows-a-tale-of-wanderlust-male-bonding-and-timeless-delight-151091">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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"Undisputed giant", John Le Carré dies at age 89

<p>John le Carré, who was responsible for some of the most thrilling literary works, has died aged 89.</p> <p>Le Carré is the mastermind behind novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Night Manager, which garnered critical acclaim and made him a bestseller around the world.</p> <p>His family confirmed his passing on Sunday, revealing pneumonia as the cause.</p> <p>He died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on Saturday.</p> <p>“We all deeply grieve his passing,” they wrote in a statement.</p> <p>His longtime agent Jonny Geller described him as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed … I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again.”</p> <p>His peers lined up to pay tribute. Stephen King wrote: “This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.” Robert Harris said the news had left him “very distressed … one of the great postwar British novelists, and an unforgettable, unique character.” Adrian McKinty described Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as “quite simply the greatest spy novel ever written”, while historian Simon Sebag Montefiore called him “the titan of English literature up there with the greats … in person, captivating and so kind and generous to me and many others.”</p> <p>Born as David Cornwell in 1931, Le Carré started working for the secret services while studying German in Switzerland at the end of the 1940s.</p> <p>He went on to teach at Eton and later joined the British Foreign Service as an intelligence officer.</p> <p>Inspired by his colleague at MI5, the novelist John Bigham, he began to publish thrillers under the pseudonym of John le Carré.</p>

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Roald Dahl’s family makes official apology for anti-Semitic comments

<p><span>The family of Roald Dahl has apologised for the late author’s “prejudiced” anti-Semitic comments.</span><br /><br /><span>Dahl is considered “one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and loved storytellers” – and wrote many children’s classics including “Matilda”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach”.</span><br /><br /><span>While he died in 1990 at the age of 74, his family has finally acknowledged anti-Semitic comments made more than two decades ago.</span><br /><br /><span>In a post on Dahl’s website, the family wrote they wanted to “deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements.”</span><br /><br /><span>“Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.</span><br /><br /><span>“We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839086/roald-dahl-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ca5dce5612ee48899dfef9f2839db486" /><br /><br /><span>In an interview with the </span><em>New Statesman</em><span> magazine in 1983, the author said: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews.”</span><br /><br /><span>“Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason,” Dahl added.</span><br /><br /><span>He then made another comment in 1990, where he told </span><em>The Independent</em><span>: “I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism.”</span></p>

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5 Australian books about living with disability

<p>Fiction and non-fiction works about disability and Deafness are often hampered by stereotypical representations. A disability is frequently presented as something to “overcome”, or used to characterise someone (ever notice all those evil characters portrayed as disfigured?).</p> <p>These representations obscure the joys, frustrations and creativity of living with disability and Deafness.</p> <p>Dutch author Corinne Duyvis started the #OwnVoices movement on Twitter because she was frustrated that calls for diversity within the publishing industry did not extend to diverse authors. Originating in discussions of young adult fiction, #OwnVoices aims to highlight books written by authors who share a marginalised identity with the protagonist.</p> <p>Life writing also provides firsthand accounts of disability and Deafness, showing what it is like to navigate a world designed for able-bodied people. In addition, these books help people with disability and Deafness learn more about their condition, and create community.</p> <p>Australia has an established literary tradition of writing about disability. Here are five books by Australian disabled writers that reveal insights into their lives and conditions.</p> <p>Read more: Creating and being seen: new projects focus on the rights of artists with disabilities</p> <p><strong>1. Alan Marshall’s Hammers Over the Anvil (1975)</strong></p> <p>Many readers will be familiar with Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles (1955), the first book in his series about growing up and living with polio in rural Australia.</p> <p>Where that book is a cheerful and somewhat sanitised account of living with a disability, Hammers Over the Anvil (1975), the fourth and final book in Marshall’s series, is more realistic.</p> <p>Marshall’s publisher refused to publish the book, thinking it would tarnish his image. Despite — or perhaps because of — his brutal treatment, Marshall shows a keen sympathy for disenfranchised people and also for animals.</p> <p><strong>2. Donna Williams’ Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic Girl (1991)</strong></p> <p>Donna Williams was not diagnosed with autism until she was an adult; prior to that she was thought to be deaf and psychotic.</p> <p>Her story begins at age three and is thick with sensory details, which both delight and overwhelm Williams. She recounts interactions with hostile people — including her own mother, who wanted to admit Williams to an institution.</p> <p>This book was the first full-length, published account by a person with autism in Australia. It became an international bestseller, spending 15 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and was translated into 20 languages.</p> <p><strong>3. Gayle Kennedy’s Me, Antman &amp; Fleabag (2007)</strong></p> <p>In this book, Gayle Kennedy, of the Wongaibon people of south west New South Wales, uses a series of engaging vignettes to describe her life as a First Nations woman who had polio.</p> <p>Kennedy was sent away for treatment. When she returned, her parents seemed like strangers; it took a while to readjust. Though the subject matter sounds heavy, this humorous and accessible work is rich with stories about the importance of family (including dogs!) and the impact of racism.</p> <p>It is also an important book because it chronicles some of the experiences of First Nations people with disability. It won the David Unaipon award in 2006.</p> <p><strong>4. Andy Jackson’s Music Our Bodies Can’t Hold (2017)</strong></p> <p>Poet Andy Jackson, who has a condition called Marfan Syndrome that affects the body’s connective tissue, began performing poetry to give himself more control over representations of his body.</p> <p>His collection consists of biographical poems of people with Marfan Syndrome, some of whom he interviewed, and historical figures who are thought to have had the condition, including Abraham Lincoln, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, Mary Queen of Scots, composer Sergei Rachmaninoff and blues guitarist Robert Johnson.</p> <p>Poetry, with its focus on voice, is strongly connected to the way that bodies express themselves, often in unique ways. As Jackson writes at the end of his poem Jess:</p> <p><em>now look at this photo and tell me</em></p> <p><em>you still want sameness.</em></p> <p><strong>5. Carly Findlay (ed), Growing Up Disabled in Australia (2021)</strong></p> <p>The final book on my list is one I haven’t read yet — but I cannot wait until I can. Edited by Carly Findley, who has ichthyosis, this collection to be released early next year, will highlight the range of childhoods experienced by people with disability in Australia.</p> <p>We will be able to read about how young people manage ableism and the (sometimes) soreness of not fitting in, and interviews with prominent Australians such as Senator Jordon Steele-John and Paralympian Isis Holt.</p> <p>I lost most of my hearing when I was four, and when I was growing up I didn’t read a single book that featured a character who was Deaf. Books like Growing Up Disabled will help young Deaf and disabled people recognise themselves in Australian literature.</p> <p>In my own hybrid memoir, Hearing Maud, I weave together my experiences of Deafness with those of Maud Praed, the Deaf daughter of 19th century expatriate Australian novelist Rosa Praed.</p> <p>Maud and I were born 100 years apart, and although our lives went in radically different directions many of our circumstances are the same — especially the expectation that we conform to a hearing world. My disability is often invisible, and I wanted to explain the relentless and exhausting attention that is needed for me to function. Deafness is far more complex than simply not hearing.</p> <p>There are thousands more examples of the ways authors can write about living with disability. The International Day of People with Disability is a great time to start reading.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Jessica White. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/in-our-own-voices-5-australian-books-about-living-with-disability-150543">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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11 everyday expressions you didn’t realise were sexist

<p><strong>Words matter</strong><br />As humans, we speak approximately 16,000 words each day. That’s a lot of talking. Unless we’re learning a new language, by the time we’re adults, we do a lot of it without thinking. There are so many factors contributing to why we use the words, phrases and expressions that come out of our mouths on a daily basis, including differences in generation, geographic location, culture and education. Sometimes you may find yourself using a certain word or expression that now, in 2020, may seem archaic or insensitive. And though there is likely no malintent behind your word choice, it might have questionable origins or applications that you’re completely unaware of – like these 12 common expressions that have surprisingly dark origins.</p> <p>Considering that much of western culture and civilisation was built upon the assumption (by men) of male superiority, it makes sense that our language reflects that. For centuries, words and phrases have been used as a way to control women and dictate their behaviour. Here are 12 everyday expressions you didn’t realise were sexist.</p> <p><strong>Hysterical/in hysterics</strong><br />Have you ever described someone as being “in hysterics” or crying “hysterically”? Now, it’s just part of our everyday vocabulary, but its origin story is probably the best example of the multiple ways women have been silenced and dismissed throughout history. It starts with the ancient Greeks, who thought that a woman’s uterus could wander throughout the rest of her body, causing a number of medical and psychological problems, including, but not limited to weakness, shortness of breath, fragility, fainting and general “madness.”</p> <p>Centuries later, Victorian doctors (who were, of course, almost exclusively male) really latched onto the idea that the uterus was the source of essentially any health or psychological problems a woman may face. The diagnosis? Hysteria, based on “hystera,” the Greek word for womb. Female hysteria, as it was known, was a catch-all term for anything men didn’t understand or couldn’t manage relating to women, and was a valid excuse for institutionalising them. There is so much more to this story, but even though “female hysteria” was discredited as a condition – which, by the way, didn’t happen until 1980 – the word and its variations continue to be used to refer to someone who displays extreme and exaggerated excitement or behaviour. “Hysteria” can also mean a period where people are extremely crazed about something, not unlike the coronavirus panic buying earlier this year.</p> <p><strong>Feisty</strong><br />According to Karla Mastracchio, PhD, a rhetorician specialising in gender, politics, and language, the etymology of some words – like feisty – may not include a connection to gender, but the cultural history of the word shows that it has been used almost exclusively along gender lines. “A lot of the words that are particularly gendered have animalistic connotations – feisty being one of them,” she tells Reader’s Digest. “It’s usually used to talk about two things: an unruly animal, or an unruly woman.” But, it’s unlikely to hear an unruly man referred to as being “feisty,” Mastracchio explains, because the word has feline connotations, and it’s typically women who are associated with cats.</p> <p><strong>Career woman</strong><br />A good way to check whether a word or expression is inherently sexist is to ask whether a male equivalent of the word exists. Two of the most prominent examples are “career woman” and “working mother.” Ever heard of a “career man” or “working father”? Of course not. This harkens back to the Victorian ideology of “separate spheres,” meaning that a woman’s domain is the home, while men are in charge of the rest of the world and society, including working. So even 100 years later, when women ventured outside of the home to work, it was considered the exception, not the rule. And of course, if a woman has a career, there was the assumption that she cared about it more than having a family. Remarkably, the expression is still with us today, despite the vast number of women in the workforce.</p> <p><strong>Bubbly</strong><br />In addition to animals, women are also associated with carbonated or otherwise fizzy beverages – usually in reference to their personality. According to Mastracchio, the use of the word “bubbly” to describe women began in the 1920s during the flapper era and Prohibition. Though a popular beverage of the time, champagne – thanks to its bubbles – was seen as frivolous, light and not something that is taken seriously (despite actually having a relatively high alcohol content of 12 percent). As women were making social gains during the era (everything from shorter haircuts and hemlines, to voting rights), referring to them as “bubbly” was a seemingly endearing (though clearly sexist) way of diminishing their intelligence. And as Mastracchio points out, “bubbly” is also used to describe the sound of a woman’s voice, while men’s voices were “booming,” “deep,” or “rich.”</p> <p><strong>Perky</strong><br />As long as we’re on the topic of cute-sounding names that are only applied to women as a method of keeping them in their place, let’s talk about “perky.” Beginning in the 1930s, “perky” was a vulgar term used to describe the physical characteristics of a woman’s breasts, Mastracchio explains. From there, the word evolved to describe someone with a “lighthearted, young, plucky” personality (which, naturally, only applied to women). Interestingly, Mastracchio points out that both “plucky” and “perky” – along with other words like “chirpy,” “perch,” and, of course, “chick” – are examples of using bird imagery to describe women. Although there are both male and female birds in the wild, they are almost exclusively feminised in language and culture.</p> <p><strong>Shrew</strong><br />Most famously used in the Shakespearean play, The Taming of the Shrew, a shrew is a small rodent with a pointy snout which it uses to gnaw things like wood. But men couldn’t resist another opportunity to use an animal to describe women, and the word later came to mean a “peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman,” according to a 1755 dictionary written by Samuel Johnson. The reason for this association is thought to be the belief that shrews (the rodent) had a venomous bite, which played a role in various superstitions. A woman considered a “shrew” may also be described using another term reserved for women: shrill.</p> <p><strong>Frigid</strong><br />Yes, “frigid” means “cold,” but there’s a lot more to the story. As Mastracchio points out, this is another example of the Victorian perception of women as being frail and fragile beings, because as a woman, if you got cold, it means you’d be seen as particularly weak. “It’s gendered in the sense that you would never call a male ‘frigid,’ because being cold is not something that is detrimental to one’s masculinity,” she explains. On top of that, “frigidity” was formerly the medical term for a woman who has no interest in being intimate with her husband, or any other type of dysfunction (real or perceived) in that area.</p> <p><strong>Ditzy</strong><br />Though the exact origin of the word “ditzy” remains unknown, it’s another one that is exclusively used to describe a woman’s perceived intelligence (or rather, the lack thereof). “It’s another example of this intrinsic idea that women have their head somewhere else,” Mastracchio says. “You wouldn’t call a man ‘ditzy,’ because men are not categorised in those kinds of boxes. So it’s tapping into the idea that a woman’s physical head is not necessarily always on her shoulders.” Interestingly, the word “ditz” to describe someone who is ditzy, didn’t enter our vocabulary until 1982. Calling someone a “ditz” or “ditzy” immediately frames them as someone who is scatterbrained and not very smart.</p> <p><strong>Hussy</strong><br />Although the word “hussy” has always referred to women, it’s the change in connotation over time that makes it problematic today. Originally, “hussy” was a neutral term used to describe a female head of the household. This makes sense, given that it is a deformed contraction of the Middle English word “husewif,” which, you guessed it, is “housewife.” Traditionally, it was pronounced “huzzy,” but by the 20th century, the pronunciation shifted to match the spelling of the word. And while it started out meaning a housewife, soon “hussy” was used to describe any woman or girl. By 1650, the term was narrowed even further, and used primarily to mean a woman who engages in questionable behaviour.</p> <p><strong>Spinster</strong><br />In yet another example of inequivalent words for men and women in the same position, we have “spinster.” Unmarried adult women are pitiful “spinsters,” while unmarried adult men are eligible “bachelors.” As the name suggests, a “spinster” is a person who spins thread, and originally, it applied to both men and women in that profession. Eventually, it evolved to refer to an unmarried woman who had to occupy her time or financially support herself by spinning thread or yarn. In fact, it became the official legal term for a single woman starting in the 1600s. This remained the case in England and Wales until 2005, when they also retired the word “bachelor” for a single man, according to a 2017 article in Smithsonian Magazine.</p> <p><strong>Governess</strong><br />Hearing the word “governess” may conjure images of the classic 1964 movie, The Sound of Music, and Julie Andrews, who played a nun-turned-governess in the musical. This context – a governess as a woman who takes care of children – is actually pretty sexist when you look back at its origins. Unsurprisingly, it is the female equivalent of a “governor,” or someone who rules or governs over a place or group of people. At least it was in the 15th century. But as time went on, the domain of a governess went from having authority a territory or jurisdiction (in the geographic and political sense) to supervising and caring for children. Yet again, it reinforces the idea that women can be in charge of children and household duties, while men oversee everything else.</p> <p><em>Written by Elizabeth Yuko. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/our-language/11-everyday-expressions-you-didnt-realise-were-sexist?pages=1">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Guide to the classics: A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s feminist call to arms

<p>I sit at my kitchen table to write this essay, as hundreds of thousands of women have done before me. It is not my own room, but such things are still a luxury for most women today. The table will do. I am fortunate I can make a living “by my wits,” as Virginia Woolf puts it in her famous feminist treatise, A Room of One’s Own (1929).</p> <p>That living enabled me to buy not only the room, but the house in which I sit at this table. It also enables me to pay for safe, reliable childcare so I can have time to write.<br />It is as true today, therefore, as it was almost a century ago when Woolf wrote it, that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” — indeed, write anything at all.</p> <p>Still, Woolf’s argument, as powerful and influential as it was then — and continues to be — is limited by certain assumptions when considered from a contemporary feminist perspective.</p> <p>Woolf’s book-length essay began as a series of lectures delivered to female students at the University of Cambridge in 1928. Its central feminist premise — that women writer’s voices have been silenced through history and they need to fight for economic equality to be fully heard — has become so culturally pervasive as to enter the popular lexicon.</p> <p>Julia Gillard’s A Podcast of One’s Own, takes its lead from the essay, as does Anonymous Was a Woman, a prominent arts funding body based in New York.</p> <p>Even the Bechdel-Wallace test, measuring the success of a narrative according to whether it features at least two named women conversing about something other than a man, can be seen to descend from the “Chloe liked Olivia” section of Woolf’s book. In this section, the hypothetical characters of Chloe and Olivia share a laboratory, care for their children, and have conversations about their work, rather than about a man.</p> <p>Woolf’s identification of women as a poorly paid underclass still holds relevance today, given the gender pay gap. As does her emphasis on the hierarchy of value placed on men’s writing compared to women’s (which has led to the establishment of awards such as the Stella Prize).</p> <p><strong>Invisible women</strong><br />In her book, Woolf surveys the history of literature, identifying a range of important and forgotten women writers, including novelists Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Brontes, and playwright Aphra Behn.</p> <p>In doing so, she establishes a new model of literary heritage that acknowledges not only those women who succeeded, but those who were made invisible: either prevented from working due to their sex, or simply cast aside by the value systems of patriarchal culture.</p> <p>To illustrate her point, she creates Judith, an imaginary sister of the playwright Shakespeare.<br />What if such a woman had shared her brother’s talents and was as adventurous, “as agog to see the world” as he was? Would she have had the freedom, support and confidence to write plays? Tragically, she argues, such a woman would likely have been silenced — ultimately choosing suicide over an unfulfilled life of domestic servitude and abuse.<br />In her short, passionate book, Woolf examines women’s letter writing, showing how it can illustrate women’s aptitude for writing, yet also the way in which women were cramped and suppressed by social expectations.</p> <p>She also makes clear that the lack of an identifiable matrilineal literary heritage works to impede women’s ability to write.</p> <p>Indeed, the establishment of those major women writers in the 18th and 19th centuries (George Eliot, the Brontes et al), when “the middle-class woman began to write” is, Woolf argues, a moment in history “of greater importance than the Crusades or the War of the Roses”.</p> <p>Male critics such as T.S. Eliot and Harold Bloom have identified a (male) writer’s relation to his precursors as necessary for his own literary production. But how, Woolf asks, is a woman to write if she has no model to look back on or respond to? If we are women, she wrote, “we think back through our mothers”.</p> <p>Her argument inspired later feminist revisionist work of literary critics like Elaine Showalter, Sandra K. Gilbert and Susan Gubar who sought to restore the reputation of forgotten women writers and turn critical attention to women’s writing as a field worthy of dedicated study.</p> <p>All too often in history, Woolf asserts, “Woman” is simply the object of the literary text — either the adored, voiceless beauty to whom the sonnet is dedicated or reflecting back the glow of man himself.</p> <p><em>Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.</em></p> <p>A Room of One’s Own returns that authority to both the woman writer and the imagined female reader whom she addresses.</p> <p><strong>Stream of consciousness</strong></p> <p>A Room of One’s Own also demonstrates several aspects of Woolf’s modernism. The early sections demonstrate her virtuoso stream of consciousness technique. She ruminates on women’s position in, and relation to, fiction while wandering through the university campus, driving through country lanes, and dawdling over a leisurely, solo lunch.</p> <p>Critically, she employs telling patriarchal interruptions to that flow of thought.<br />A beadle waves his arms in exasperation as she walks on a private patch of grass. A less-than-satisfactory dinner is served to the women’s college. A “deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman” turns her away from the library. These interruptions show the frequent disruption to the work of a woman without a room.</p> <p>This is the lesson also imparted in Woolf’s 1927 novel To the Lighthouse where artist Lily Briscoe must shed the overbearing influence of Mr and Mrs Ramsay, a couple who symbolise Victorian culture, if she is to “have her vision”. The flights and flow of modernist technique are not possible without the time and space to write and think for herself.<br />A Room of One’s Own has been crucial to the feminist movement and women’s literary studies. But it is not without problems. Woolf admits her good fortune in inheriting £500 a year from an aunt.<br />Indeed her purse now “breed(s) ten-shilling notes automatically”.</p> <p>Part of the purpose of the essay is to encourage women to make their living through writing.</p> <p>But Woolf seems to lack an awareness of her own privilege and how much harder it is for most women to fund their own artistic freedom. It is easy for her to advise against “doing work that one did not wish to do, and to do it like a slave, flattering and fawning”.</p> <p>In her book, Woolf also criticises the “awkward break” in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1847), in which Bronte’s own voice interrupts the narrator’s in a passionate protest against the treatment of women.</p> <p>Here, Woolf shows little tolerance for emotion, which has historically often been dismissed as hysteria when it comes to women discussing politics.</p> <p>A Room of One’s Own ends with an injunction to work for the coming of Shakespeare’s sister, that woman forgotten by history. “So to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worthwhile”.</p> <p>Such a woman author must have her vision, even if her work will be “stored in attics” rather than publicly exhibited.<br />The room and the money are the ideal, we come to see, but even without them the woman writer must write, must think, in anticipation of a future for her daughter-artists to come.</p> <p><em>An adaptation of </em><a href="https://belvoir.com.au/productions/a-room-of-ones-own/#CjnymqycvMw"><em>A Room of One’s Own</em></a><em> is currently at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre. This article appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/guide-to-the-classics-a-room-of-ones-own-virginia-woolfs-feminist-call-to-arms-145398">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Outraged fans announce "death" of J.K. Rowling

<p>J.K Rowling's new book called <em>Troubled Blood</em> has made fans furious, as it features a male serial killer who dresses as a woman while on violent killing sprees.</p> <p>Rowling has previously made controversial comments about the transgender community, including a range of tweets comparing hormone therapy to gay conversion therapy.</p> <p>Hormone therapy is where transgender people take sex hormones to align their bodies more closely with their gender identity and gay conversion therapy refers to the discredited practice of trying to change sexual orientation using psychological or spiritual means.</p> <p>Fans have had enough and have declared her "dead" by sending the hashtag #RIPJKRowling to the top of the Twitter trending charts. </p> <p>“In memory of jk rowling. she ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people &amp; no one would really miss her that much anyway,” wrote one Twitter user.</p> <p>“#RIPJKRowling she (ain’t) dead but her career is,” added another.</p> <p>“Imagine getting cancelled so hard, we have to pretend that you died,” chimed in someone else.</p> <p>J.K Rowling has published five books under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and <em>Troubled Blood</em> is the latest.</p> <p>In <em>The Silkworm</em>, the second novel in the series, Rowling portrays a trans character as being “unstable and aggressive.”</p> <p>“The meat of the book is the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer,” wrote the <em>Telegraph</em> in a review of the novel.</p> <p>“One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.”</p> <p>Rowling defended her past comments in an essay.</p> <p>“I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility,” she wrote.</p>

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Why you should always get children picture books for Christmas

<p>The end of the year is slowly approaching. If you’re wondering what to get your child, your friends’ children, your nieces and nephews for Christmas –  I highly recommend picture books.</p> <p>Many people can remember a favourite book when they were a kid. Some of my favourites were the Berenstain Bears with Papa Bear trying, unsuccessfully, to teach his children how to ride a bike or gather honey.</p> <p>Sadly, a 2011 report from the UK showed the number of young people who say they own a book is decreasing. The report also showed a clear relationship between receiving books as presents and reading ability.</p> <p>Children who said they had never been given a book as a present were more likely to be reading below the expected level for their age.</p> <p>Most people can remember a favourite book when they were kids. The Berenstain Bears/Screenshot</p> <p>There are lots of benefits of reading aloud to young children, including developing children’s language and print awareness. These include knowing that the squiggles on the page represent words, and that the words tell a story.</p> <p>Such knowledge gives children a head start when they go on to reading at school.</p> <p><strong>1. Reading to kids increases their vocabulary</strong></p> <p>Research shows books have a greater variety of words than conversations. But it also suggests the conversations had during reading matter most.</p> <p>Adults should discuss ideas in books with children, as they occur, as opposed to just reading a book from start to finish. Talking about the pictures, or what has happened, can lead to rich conversations and enhance language development.</p> <p>The more words you know, the simpler it is to recognise them and comprehend the meaning of the text. Children who read more become better readers and more successful students.</p> <p><strong>2. Books can increase children’s maths and science skills</strong></p> <p>Picture books show children maths and science concepts through a story, which helps kids grasp them easier.</p> <p>Some books (like How Many Legs and How Big is a Million) explicitly explore concepts such as numbers. Other stories, like the Three Little Pigs, have concepts embedded in them. Children can learn about the properties of materials when adults talk about the strength of hay, sticks and bricks.</p> <p>A study in the Netherlands found kindergarten children who were read picture books, and were engaged in discussions of the maths concepts in the books, increased their maths performance, compared to a control group of children who weren’t read these books.</p> <p>Early Learning STEM Australia has created a booklist which gives parents and teachers ideas for books that contain STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) ideas. These include:</p> <ul> <li>They All Saw a Cat, which shows the perspectives of different animals</li> <li>Lucy in the City, where a cat loses her way home and an owl helps her</li> <li>Dreaming Up, which contrasts children’s constructions with notable works of architecture.</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Books are mirrors and windows</strong></p> <p>Nearly 30 years ago, children’s literature professor, Rudine Sims Bishop, wrote how books can be windows, through which we see other worlds. These windows can become sliding doors when we use our imaginations and become part of them.</p> <p>Books can also be mirrors, when we see our own lives and experiences in them. In this way, they reaffirm our place in the world.</p> <p>Children need both types of books to understand people come from different cultures and have different ways of thinking and doing things. Books can show that children of all cultures are valued in society.</p> <p>Children who never see themselves represented in books may feel marginalised. Unfortunately, the majority of books feature white children or animals, so many children only experience books as windows.</p> <p>Examples of books that show the lives of Indigenous children include Big Rain Coming and Kick with My Left Foot (which is also a great book about left and right).</p> <p><strong>4. Books can counter stereotypes</strong></p> <p>Children learn gender stereotypes from a very young age. Research shows by the age of six, girls are already less likely than boys to think girls are “really, really smart” and they begin to avoid activities thought to be for “really, really smart” children.</p> <p>Picture books can challenge these and other stereotypes. Reading books that portray atypical behaviours such as girls playing with trucks or with girls in traditional male roles such as being doctors, scientists or engineers, can change children’s beliefs and activities.</p> <p><a href="https://www.rif.org/literacy-central/book/iggy-peck-architect">Iggy Peck, Architect</a>; <a href="https://storytimefromspace.com/rosie-revere-engineer-2/">Rosie Revere, Engineer</a>; and <a href="https://www.abramsbooks.com/product/ada-twist-scientist_9781419721373/">Ada Twist, Scientist</a> are very popular. And <a href="https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/79329-andrea-beaty-and-david-roberts-welcome-a-new-questioneer.html">Sofia Valdez, Future Prez</a> have been released more recently.</p> <p>The City of Monash in Melbourne has created a list of children’s picture books that promote gender equality and challenge gender stereotypes. This includes one of my favourite books, The Paperbag Princess, who saves herself from a dragon and decides not to marry the prince after he complains she is a mess.</p> <p><strong>5. Just having more books makes you more educated</strong></p> <p>A study that looked at data from 27 countries, including Australia, found children growing up in homes with many books got three years more education than children from bookless homes. This was independent of their parents’ education, occupation and class.</p> <p>Adults need to model good reading habits and their enjoyment of reading. Giving children a love of reading can be the best present we ever give.</p> <p><em>Written by Misha Ketchell</em><em>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-reasons-i-always-get-children-picture-books-for-christmas-127801">The Conversation</a></em><em>. </em></p>

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