The Verb goes Victorian tonight as part of BBC Radio 3's Mendelssohn season marking the bicentenary of the composer's birth. Ian MacMillan's weekly programme dedicated to poetry and the spoken word explores the literary life of the 19th century, from its grand visions and Romanticism to its more curious writerly corners and eccentricities.
Novelist Toby Litt offers a guide to the Poets Laureate who were not Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson, of course, bestrides the era like a colossus as Queen Victoria's favourite Poet Laureate and the author of In Memoriam, the work that comforted her in her widowhood. But, Toby asks, what about the laureateships of Robert Southey, William Wordsworth and the unfortunate Alfred Austin, Tennyson's much-mocked successor, who Robert Browning dismissed as the "Banjo Byron" for his ill-judged doggerel?
Ergo Phizmiz, meanwhile, beckons listeners into the garden for a spot of "Pointballing", his series of eclectic experiments in sound and language. This week, Ergo's work has a distinctly Victorian flavour to its chaos, in the spirit of the nonsense work of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.
And novelist Gregory Norminton, author of Serious Things, reads The Chronic Omnibus, his brand new "Wellesian" tale of how the Victorians saw the future.
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