For this book is the talking voice that runs on,

Dear Stevie, Once I entered your Novel on Yellow Paper (1936), I immediately noticed three things: that I was being held captive; that I was complicit in my captivity; and that the thing that held me inside was neither plot nor character, but something less tangible. I had fallen in love with a voice. Yours,…

Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith (born Florence Margaret Smith, 20 September 1902 – 7 March 1971) was an English writer. She adopted the nickname “Stevie” when she was young.  She was riding in the park with a friend, and he said that she reminded him of the jockey Steve Donoghue. Her father abandoned the family when she was a…

The taste of the fog was at the back of their throats

Dear Elizabeth, Do you know this feeling we have when we quite unexpectedly understand why a particular book is a classic? When we understand what it means; when we suddenly get to know what it feels like. Have you ever felt it? When a book draws from a tradition it so thoroughly understands that it…

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles; 3 July 1912 – 19 November 1975) was a British writer. She attended The Abbey School in Reading. She then worked as a governess, tutor, and librarian. She was a friend of the writer Ivy Compton-Burnett, of the novelist and critic Robert Liddell, and of the writer Elizabeth Jane Howard. Elizabeth Taylor died of cancer. Books Novels At…

his plunging spirit had got stuck in the glue of convention and hypocrisy

Dear Vita, You begin your novel The Edwardians (1930) with a very curious note: “No character in this book is wholly fictitious.”  It gives us a hint to what the book will taste like: melancholic and ambiguous, both an imaginative expansion upon the life you knew well and a deep immersion on its contradictions. The…

My year of Pilgrimage

Hello, lovely bookish friends! How are you? Right now, I am surrounded by blue skies and the thin buttery sunlight of late Winter. I have four tomes and a window in front of me. Inspired by Liz , Sarah, Kaggsy and Jane, who have undertaken this journey before, I’ve been toying with the idea of reading through all thirteen novels…

Tessa Hadley

Tessa Jane Hadley (née Nichols; 28 February 1956) is a British writer. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Clare College, University of Cambridge. She earned Master of Arts in creative writing at the Bath Spa University College, and a PhD at the University of the West of England.  She…

They had taught her to take what she wanted

Dear Vita, I came to your book Aphra Behn: the Incomparable Astrea (1927) because of this thing called Virginia. In the fourth chapter of A Room of One’s Own (1929), Woolf claims that “all women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, (…) for it was she who earned them the right…

Vita Sackville-West

Victoria Mary Sackville-West (Lady Nicolson, 9 March 1892 – 2 June 1962) was an English writer. In 1913, Vita married the writer and diplomat Harold George Nicolson, with whom she had two children – and an open marriage. The affair for which she is most remembered was Virginia Woolf, in the late 1920s. Vita was the inspiration behind Wool’s Orlando (1928)….

and the jungle passed in on them, seeking to cover them up

Dear Rose, Your novel The World My Wilderness (1950) is a powerful depiction of the way the Second World War ravaged people’s physical, emotional and moral landscapes. Wandering from the South of France to Scotland, and mainly set in the Blitz-ruined London, during the Summer of 1946, the novel follows the seventeen-year-old Barbary, when she is sent…