And introduction to The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton

Radio 4 is running a series of programmes about The Anatomy of Melancholy in the coming days. Here is a speech I wrote in the late 1990s about the book.

Robert Burton was a man who knew a thing or two about depression. He wrote three volumes, nearly 1500 pages, about its causes, symptoms and cures. His book is called The Anatomy of Melancholy, and he devoted almost his whole life to writing it. He was born in 1577, making him a contemporary of Shakespeare. He went to Oxford University in 1593, and never ventured much further than the library, until his death forty-seven years later.

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The Mastery of Self-Expression – My Experience

Who are you?

I’m a speechwriter, with a yearning to be more involved in public life.

I was told by a friend (a graduate of Sandhurst officer training) that I should do The Mastery of Self-Expression weekend. It was the best workshop he’d ever done. I trusted him, paid the fee and showed up, without doing much research into what I was letting myself in for.

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A Quirky Christmas Present – A Christmas Commonplace Book

My love of speechwriting is very much connected to my love of learning languages. I studied French, German, Latin and Russian at school. An indispensable tool for anyone learning a language is a vocabulary book.

I had narrow green exercise books in which I collected words with their definitions, with some trite quotations copied in the back.

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How to write a Gaudy Speech

Every year famous people are invited to serve up life-lessons to a new crop of American graduates to fortify them as they enter the big world. The Americans are known for their ‘commencement speeches’.

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