Dear Marie Stopes: ‘birth-control opera’ returns as a powerful melodic reminder

Opera cast.

‘Please help me!’ This heart-breaking refrain from Alex Mills’ chamber opera Dear Marie Stopes is drawn from the thousands of letters which Stopes received after her sex manual Married Love was published in 1918. The opera had its stunning premier last year at the Wellcome Collection (reviewed in FN, Sept 2018), and was completely sold …

Wilkie Collins lived out the double identities of his characters

Scene from BBC adaption of The Woman in White.

Of all the 19th century Fitzrovians who had secret families, Wilkie Collins is probably my favourite. Famous for ‘sensation novels’ such as The Woman in White and The Moonstone, Collins was adept at probing the hypocrisy that underpinned bourgeois family values in Victorian England. Like the main character in The Woman in White, he was fascinated by the ‘idea of something …

Eric Coates: the popular composer who proved his critics wrong

People standing in a pub.

Born in Nottinghamshire in 1886, Eric Coates had been scribbling down melodies since he was six years old. By the time he was 19, his dearest wish was to go and study at The Royal Academy of Music in London. But his father, a country doctor, was determined that his fifth and youngest child should …