Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

A few years ago I wrote a thesis with its focus the mid-nineteenth-century painting by British artist Valentine Prinsep, ‘The flight of Jane Shore’. I researched Jane Shore’s life to the point of obsession and got to know this medieval royal mistress so well that I thought I could speak for her—write her story in the genre of historical fiction. […]

Verbs have two voices: the ‘active’ and the ‘passive’. A sentence in which the subject performs the action of the verb creates an active voice and packs an immediate punch. A sentence using the passive voice is often dull and convoluted because some form of the helping verb ‘to be’ (am, is, are, was, were, being, been) attaches itself to […]

Verbs not only convey action and reveal personality in fiction, but they are capable of sharpening communication and meaning in non-fiction writing. The featured painting of horses by Lucy Kemp-Welch (‘Horses bathing in the sea’, 1899) captures the personality of each horse as they engage with the shoreline waves: one or two show fear, a couple rear, another hesitates, others submit. […]

Travel writing often ends up being fantasy. The idea of the writer-artist as an independent traveller embodies a romantic notion that the source of his or her inspiration is an unrestrained inner life. English travel writer, Bruce Chatwin (1940-89,) was a post-Vietnam-War traveller, content to travel alone and live in ‘native’ standards of comfort. His writing style is as intoxicatingly […]

The famous literary Brontë family lived in Haworth Parsonage, Yorkshire, between 1820 and 1861. Their austere grey-stone home, surrounded by dark-green trees, prickly hedges and bleak moors, is infused with gothic imaginations. Even though it is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and nothing can be touched, this is a place where astonishing art was created by three sisters. I imagine […]

These days, it is cool to poo-poo the pursuit of beauty in art, but avant-garde writers and artists in late-nineteenth-century Europe, particularly in the hedonistic capital of France, celebrated the power of beauty to transform the beholder. English literary genius, Oscar Wilde, was notorious as the witty spokesman of Aestheticism and its bold declaration that art should be independent from […]

Categories: Musings on Art

It’s those jaw-dropping moments we just happen upon as we drift through foreign places that make travel so exciting, and addictive. The heat was sizzling in Florence on the afternoon of 18 July 2007 when I flew through the door of the rather non-descript and gloomy Santa Felicità; it was 4.50pm, 10 minutes before closing. There it was to the […]

Categories: Musings on Art

It takes courage for writers to ‘go out on a limb’ in order to develop, and commit to, an individual writing style that satisfies readers. On 9 March 1895, H. G. Wells, English writer and commentator, wrote a review in the ‘Saturday Review’ of Grant Allen’s controversial novel, ‘The Woman Who Did’: “The whole book … is strenuous without strength, […]

A sense of timelessness pervades the circuit walk at Stourhead garden in Wiltshire, England. This is a sublime place of beauty where nature has become art, ordered and arranged by humans. The last time I experienced this eighteenth-century landscape garden was on 28 October 2012 when rain tumbled softly, unhurried in the calm weather. Autumn colours were heightened by the […]

Categories: Musings on Art

Written in his passionate and robust style, Lord Byron described the majesty of Rome’s Pantheon (“pride of Rome!”) in his lengthy narrative poem, ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ (1812-1818): Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime— Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods, From Jove to Jesus—spared and blest by time; Looking tranquility, while falls or nods Arch, empire, each thing round […]

Categories: Musings on Art