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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

23. Salome

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the twenty-third poem in the collection, 'Salome', focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of Salome, a figure from Biblical history (though not in fact named in the Bible), who demands the head of John the Baptist on a platter; (ii) the retelling of the myth in Oscar Wilde's 1891 play 'Salome' and in Richard Strauss's 1905 opera of the same name; (iii) the recurrence of women in the collection who use their sexuality to get what they want, cf. 'Pygmalion's Bride'; (iv) the appearance of a maid ("I knew I'd feel better for tea […] so rang for the maid"), a figure we last encountered in 'Pilate's Wife' ("My maid knows all the rest"); and (v) the significance of the names of Salome's past lovers – "Peter? Simon? Andrew ? John?"


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, 'The World's Wife'. After a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, the course continue with a read-through and analysis of each of the thirty poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, April 28). Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife - Salome [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife – Salome." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Apr 2020,