The great 18th century writer Dr Samuel Johnson, who suffered from severe bouts of depression, said “the only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life or better to endure it.”
Taking Johnson’s phrase as a starting point, this course considers how poems, plays and novels can help us understand and cope with times of deep emotional strain.
Along the way, you’ll hear from doctors, who offer a medical perspective, and from people who have turned to literature at moments of crisis, including such well-known figures as Melvyn Bragg, Mark Haddon, Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry.
This course is open to anyone with an interest in literature or mental health. No previous experience or qualifications are required. The reading load will be flexible, and you will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and feelings via the online discussions with other learners.