England, My England
The life and times of Henry Purcell
A film by Tony Palmer
Starring Simon Callow and Michael Ball
Please note - this site is still under construction - it is constantly being updated.
England, My England is an intriguing film, and somewhat complex. The first time I saw it (Channel 4, Christmas 1995) I wished I had taped it. I was half way through and still wondering what was going on, although I was enjoying the experience. It is a beautifully-crafted film with great actors and musicians, sumptuous sets and it is filled with Purcell's music.
However, on my first viewing I found the changeovers from the seventeenth-century to the 1960s and back again, with the same actors, quite bewildering, and at the time I knew next to nothing about seventeenth-century history.
A few years later I took an Open University course on the period (Princes and Peoples: France and the British Isles, 1620-1714). Not long afterwards I purchased a copy of the video and was finally able to watch the film properly and understand all the historical references. A degree in history is in no way necessary to enjoy this film, but it has certainly helped me. I have set up this site in part as a continuation of my studies in a direction of my choice, but also in the hope that I can help further appreciation of the film and the historical period.
England, My England was the last screenplay penned by John Osborne (it was completed by Charles Wood following Osborne's death), and is the last film appearance of Sir Robert Stephens, so this is written in part as a tribute to them both. My Film pages look at John Osborne and the Director, Tony Palmer's film in more detail.
The cast includes some of the cream of British acting talent, as well as actors who had yet to make their name in film or theatre, but were known in other fields.
More on the ideas behind the film can be found in Michael White's CD sleeve notes, which he has kindly allowed me to reproduce here. This is in the Music section, along with a list of music from the Soundtrack Recording.
The History pages offer links to a chronological timeline which runs from the English Civil War to the death of Henry Purcell. I've recently added a piece on the royal succession. Future links will explore other historical events and issues relevant to the film, namely religious tensions and issues of democracy and absolutism. My theatre page will look at the theatre of the Restoration, and the introduction of actresses to the London stage.
Quotes continues the historical background, as I list comments relevant to the situations shown in the film, made by contemporaries of Purcell.
Locations looks at some of the historical sites used in the film, along with details of visiting the locations. I also incude a pictorial comparison of the sets for Harry's home with contemporary Dutch genre painting. More pictures to come for this section.
For information on where to buy the video, as well as acknowledgements, bibliography and website links, check out Sources, Links and Credits.
Links updated - 27 February 2003
Facelift - 3 February 2002
Site updated 18 January 2002
Added pages - In Their Own Words and Sources, Links and Credits
Film / Sets and locations/Biographies/
History / Sources, Links and Credits / Guestbook/Site Plan
Copyright belongs to Deborah Norris, 2001