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20th November 2020

How to live with lockdown, literature style

Looking to keep your lockdown interesting beyond what technology has to offer? We looked for advice from some of the most famous literary works from history
How to live with lockdown, literature style
Photo: ImaArtist @ Pixabay

We’re back into another nationwide lockdown, in what has always been the most weird in between month of the year – November. You’re probably looking for ways to keep these upcoming weeks vaguely interesting, or at least not completely maddening.

Well have no fear, as who better to advise us than but the famous historical authors of our time? They had to pass the time in an electronic-gadget free world, and their books are filled with characters whose hobbies include staring, yearning, and feeling sad about stuff.  But what can these relatable heroes offer us?

Go for a walk, Bronte style

Walks have long been a staple of our romantic heroes and heroines. Whether it’s merely a turn around the dining room, Bingley style, to gossip, or if you’re more on the troubled side like our Jane Eyre, it’s time to walk around the Peak district and stare in angst into the distance, wondering whether your paramour has indeed got a woman “self-isolating” in the attic.

The best part is that, at least in this lockdown, you can meet up with one other person outside as long as you stick to social distancing rules. What does that mean for you lustful readers? You’ve guessed it, it’s time for sexually tense eye contact from afar! Perfect your Heathcliff style brooding and let that girl know that no, she shouldn’t marry that well-to-do gentleman (or at least choose him for her support bubble).

Write a Dear Jane letter 

Photo: Steve Bailey @ Flickr

Unfortunately not everyone will be close enough for a promenade or, better yet, a splash in the manor pond in your best white shirt. However, Jane Austen has the solution. 


If you’re anything like me, you may have a glut of museum gift shop postcards you can’t remember why you bought in the first place. So channel your best Lizzie Bennett and get writing.

Got nothing interesting to say? You can just make it up! Write a story, a poem, draw something. 

Yellow Wallpaper? It’s time to redecorate!

It’s hard staring at the same four walls constantly. Before the pandemic you might not have thought you could relate to a woman who’s confinement leads her to have a breakdown and possibly one of the weirdest breakups you can think of, but it’s 2020 and anything is possible! There’s lots of easy and free tips and tricks online for giving your living space a cute refresh, as well as give you a new outlook on current situations. It’s time to look up paint swatches and/or online psychotherapy!

Frankenstein’s Monster AKA the ultimate group challenge

For many people this felt like a year without a summer and it turns out this wouldn’t be the first time. In 1816 Mount Tambora erupted, resulting in a long volcanic winter. A certain Mary Shelley, her lover and soon-to-be husband Percy, and Lord Byron, found themselves trapped indoors in a villa by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The story goes that the trio set each other the challenge to write ghost stories and eventually the book Frankenstein was brought to life.

Now I’m not asking why you and ‘the lads’, or ‘the girlz’, or whatever hilarious name you have for your Whatsapp chats, haven’t written King Lear yet, but I suggest at least one of you should come up with some form of creative masterpiece. Group accountability is the way forward!

Photo: Diego Torres Silvestre @ Wikimedia Commons

Find Your White Whale

Some may say harbouring an obsession for one thing is bad for you, but here I say it’s a way to pass the time! Whether it’s real wildlife or just the IKEA bear from the memes, Herman Melville has taught me that taking yourself on a journey inside, or online, can help explore the limits of our own knowledge. I thought I saw an owl in a tree, went outside and it turned out to be just a football that had gotten stuck. God truly is unknowable.

I hope these literary heroes and heroines have sufficiently inspired you; or at least this may have managed to give you something to do for five minutes. Five minutes down, a potentially indefinite amount of time to go!

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