Katherine Duncan-Jones

Katherine Duncan-Jones’s edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets was published in 1997.

Diary: Nocturnal Plastifications

Katherine Duncan-Jones, 12 November 1998

At the end of August 1996 both my daughters left home to take up graduate scholarships in America. I knew that they would probably never again spend extended periods in my house, but persuaded myself that I had ‘coping strategies’ well in place. Within days of their departure I embarked on a more than usually expensive holiday, a Hellenic cruise. I had calculated that in the course of this holiday I would become really keen to get back, even to an empty home, and to resume my absorbing work on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. This was indeed the case, and I returned to much enjoyable busyness, not consciously marred by what I took to be a moderately virulent outbreak of athlete’s foot, caused by too many visits to my swimming club, in a prep school where term began in early September. After a week or three I went to my GP and told her I thought I had athlete’s foot. Amid pleasant chat of this and that she sat at her computer and prescribed some anti-fungal cream. I warned one or two fellow members of the swimming club that there might be infections around in the women’s changing room, used at other times of day by ‘away’ rugby teams of little boys. My spirits were slightly dampened, as autumn and a new academic year set in, by a sense that as a responsible citizen I should now cease to visit the swimming pool – I normally went three times a week – for fear of infecting others. I hit on what I thought a rather brilliant solution: I bought some rubber foot coverings from a sports shop, and went swimming in them a couple of times, hoping to avoid passing the infection on, but was surprised to discover what a part toes play in swimming, and how impeding it is to have the feet encased in latex. Perhaps this unsatisfactory experience gave me some empathy with the condom-wearing sex.’‘


Lives of Sidney

25 June 1992

Patrick Collinson praises Alan Stewart’s biography of Philip Sidney (LRB, 30 March) for containing ‘only a few egregious errors for pedants to pick on’. It may seem churlish, therefore, to observe that his own review also contains a few ‘egregious errors’ for people like me to pick on, in addition to some worryingly vague assertions. To begin with the smallest, Sidney...

Recently I was teaching a poem by Yeats that has always reminded me of a stretched sonnet. ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz’ has an octave of 20 lines and a sestet of...

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Despairing Radicals

Blair Worden, 25 June 1992

In the gentle countryside to the west of Maidstone in Kent lies Penshurst House, the home of the Sidney family since the middle of the 16th century. The most famous of the Sidneys, Sir Philip,...

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