We live in strange times. When I came across a link on Frank Wilson's indispensable Books, Inq. blog labelled 'Thomas Browne, 17th-Century Author, Draws New Interest', my first thought was that - like Thomas Tallis - Sir Thos had had a mention in Fifty Shades Of Grey, and suddenly the Religio Medici was walking off the shelves and they couldn't print Hydriotaphias fast enough to satisfy the vast army of 'mummy porn' aficionadas ('Mummy is become Merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for Balsams...'). But no - it turned out, happily, that this was a far more innocent and firmly grounded revival of interest in the works of Sir Thomas Browne.
However, one literary author who has benefited from the Fifty Shades effect is Thomas Hardy, whose Tess of the D'Urbervilles is (in its first edition - three volumes, set you back a few grand) the first gift given by the ghastly Mr Grey to his unfortunate female victim, Lord knows why (and I've no intention of finding out). Sales of Tess have, by all accounts, tripled as a result of Mr Grey's endorsement, and I have lately been noticing young women reading it on train and Tube. Heaven knows what they will make of it - but then Heaven knows what I make of it really, after rather more readings than is entirely healthy (I studied it for A-level). I think Deeply Flawed Masterpiece about sums it up. Certainly, for all its beauties, its great set pieces and emotional power, it is marred by some pretty awful writing. But if you've got through Fifty Shades that is probably no impediment at all.