Mary Renault

Mary Renault (born Eileen Mary Challans, 4 September 1905 – 13 December 1983) was an English writer. Renault received an undergraduate degree in English from St Hugh’s College, Oxford, in 1928. She then trained as a nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, where she met her lifelong partner, the nurse Julie Mullard. Renault worked as a nurse until…

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…