SUGGESTED VIEWING

* Blackadder: Often called the quintessential British comedy, this series stars Rowan Atkinson as all the members of a dastardly family trying to take over the rule of England. Great for historical buffs or Rowan fans, and the third disc (besides focusing on Blackadder as a butler) includes a Victorian Christmas special.

* Gosford Park: A reverse murder mystery, in which you learn the motives before the murder even happens; thus, it's a tad slow, but entertaining nonetheless. This is a must for anyone who wonders about the British obsession with class and servitude.

* Jeeves & Wooster: The 1991 ITV series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, based (loosely in some case) on the original stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Besides being hilarious and beautifully filmed, this series depics the quintessential master/servant relationship from every angle.

* The Remains of the Day: Merchant/Ivory's adaptation of the Ishiguro novel, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Another historical piece focusing on the serving class, but from a much less romanticised angle than any of our other recommendations -- or even the comic itself -- are likely to present.

* Topsy-Turvy: A film adaptation of the struggle that surrounded the first production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. A must for any G&S fan, but recommended here for its incredible (and painfully candid) accuracy in depicting everyday Victorian life.

* Wilde: A beautiful depiction of the life of Oscar Wilde (played by Stephen Fry), and his emotional battle between caring for his family and his destructive relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas (Jude Law). The movie alone is a wealth of information on the Victorian way of life, but the Special Edition DVD also includes countless documentaries and commentaries on Wilde and Victorian England.



SUGGESTED READING

* British-English A to Zed: Most British English dictionaries only give the British counterpart to the American vernacular, but this reference book goes well beyond the usual definitions. It includes explanations and clarifications, especially useful when both countries use the same word but give it different meanings - words like 'vest', 'bomb' (a success in Britain, but a failure in America), and 'fanny' (NOT at all a nice word in the UK). With separate reference sections for cricket terms, automotive terms, money conversions (just how many half-pence are in a guinea, anyway?), and other subjects, this book is indispensible for any wanna-be Brit.

* Eminent Victorians: A parody (this can't be emphasised enough) by Lytton Strachey. Here you will see depicted Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Thomas Arnold, and General Gordon. It is difficult to tell just how much of Strachey's material is true, and how much is lampooning; but apart from occasional dryness in the longer sections, it is highly recommended.

* The English: This book, written by the well-known journalist and presenter of Newsnight and University Challenge Jeremy Paxman, is really more a collection of essays that all focus on the title subject - what defines the English as a people? What does 'Englishness' really mean? Why does England, unlike Scotland or Wales, have no real national anthem? (No, God Save the Queen doesn't count.) Can the English really claim to have a national identity that is purely their own? Paxman muses on these questions and many more, including a short discussion of what he sees as the oddly English fascination with being flogged. A witty, biting, and thought-provoking book.

* Jeeves & Wooster: There are many, many Bertie and Jeeves stories by the good Mr. Plum, but here we've linked to one anthology to get you started. Read it for the information you'll get on the serving class of the early 1900s, but also read it just for laughs.

* Moab Is My Washpot: The autobiography of Stephen Fry (Sticky Wicket's celebrity of choice), covering his first twenty years. Fry is incredibly candid, covering everything from the school system to his homosexuality to his inability to sing. Everyone must read this.

* The Remains of the Day: The original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. We recommend both reading the book and seeing the film, as each offers a different view of the same story.

* What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England: An excellent reference for readers of Victorian fiction, because the author uses actual examples from different books to illustrate many aspects of daily life in late Regency and Victorian England. So if you've ever wondered how the mayor of Casterbridge was legally able to auction off his wife, or why every fictional character seemed to be either an orphan or a governess (or both), this helpful book will provide many of the answers.










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