In July of this year, I attended the 13th annual conference on Monsters and the Monstrous held at Mansfield College, the University of Oxford.
To begin the trip, flew first into London, where I spent the first two days exploring one of my favorite cities in all of Europe. Though I have been to many countries and had many wondrous adventures, there is likely no place on Earth has has even held my heart so captivated as England. Such a blend of culture and history. Modern and ancient. The land of Shakespeare, Tolkien, Harry Potter, Kings and Queens…
With my grandmother at Hampton Court.
I started the trip by taking a trip to Hampton Court Palace, the court of King Henry VIII, among others.
The palace was massive, elaborate and beautiful. Featuring massive paintings, large bedrooms, dazzling staircases.
Despite having lived in England for several years, I had never been to the palace before, so I was very excited to get to explore. I was also joined there by my friend and writing partner, Jonny,
Who assisted me in the very important mission of finding the centre of the Hampton Court Maze. Here we are, after surprisingly only one wrong turn!
We had an wonderful time!
I also spent an evening at the Queen’s Theatre, where I saw Les Miserables.
It was an emotionally moving masterpiece.Everything from the music, to the voices, to the theatre itself were exquisite. It is definitely up there with the best I have ever seen. (Though I must add here, that Phantom of the Opera is and probably always will be my favorite.)
Then I was off to Oxford.
It was my first time there as well, and I was very excited to not only see the numerous buildings which compose the university, but also to arrive there as a conference presenter. The conference, run by inter-disciplinary.net is a gathering of scholars from beginning post-graduates to full-fledged professors from multiple fields of study who gather to discuss topics they love – in this case, monsters.
My paper was titled:
The Child Who Kills: An examination of the Dionysian Child through John Linqvist’s Let the Right One In
Though it also focused on several other novels featuring child vampires, including Becket’s Key the Steampunk Vampire series (with illustrations by Raven Quinn, Trisha Baker’s Crimson series and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
I was very excited to not only be presenting it at Oxford but also among such a distinguished group of my peers. The paper went very well and lead to much discussion and debate.
I also managed to see a few sites in Oxford. I was very excited to grab a drink at the Eagle and Child pub,
A place where both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis once met.
They were members of the same writers group known as the Inklings.
I also visited the University of Oxford Christchurch campus where I saw one of the famous dining halls, which was one of the influences for the hall featured in Harry Potter.
And the library where I saw a journal written in Mary Shelley’s own handwriting.
After Oxford, I returned to London again for another full day before leaving. I spent most of the afternoon at The Globe Theatre. The Globe, which features Shakespeare’s plays, was built to be a replica of the original theatre which existed in Shakespeare’s lifetime.
People who attend performance there have a choice between being seated or standing beside the stage during the performance. It is a token to Elizabethan theater (1500 & 1600s) where the cheap ‘seats’ were actually simply standing and people paid extra to actually sit during a performance. I opted for a seat myself and watched the play from the upper levels. I saw Richard II, and it was very well done.
After that, it was time to say goodbye to England. Though I am certain it is a place I will return to in the future.