Explore the power of memoir
Where does the personal reside in our understanding of history, social issues and human experience? And what does the form of the memoir distinctively illuminate? Join novelists and historians as they discuss the power of memoir in their current work. With novelist Tessa McWatt on race, historian Sarah Knott on maternity and historian Norma Clarke on family.Norma Clarke, professor emeritus at Kingston University, is a literary historian and biographer. Her books include Dr Johnson's Women, Queen of the Wits: a Life of Laetitia Pilkington, and Brothers of the Quill: Oliver Goldsmith in Grub Street. Her new book, Not Speaking (Unbound, 2019), is a family memoir which builds on a talk first given at the British Library in 2014, in a series convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, on the subject of war brides. In the years following the World War Two, war-time marriages meant the movement of many women. Not Speaking tells one such story: a Greek immigrant and a working-class Londoner, neither of whom spoke the other one's language when they met and married in 1945, tracing its ramifications into the next generation.
Sarah Knott is a writer, feminist and historian of Britain and the United States. She is a fellow of the Kinsey Institute and the Royal Historical Society and a professor of History at Indiana University. Her books include Sensibility and the American Revolution (2008) and, most recently, Mother (Penguin Viking, 2019), which braids memoir and history to explore the many pasts of maternity. Knott was elected to the editorial board of Past and Present in 2013. She is currently a visiting senior fellow at the Rothermere American Institute and Centre for Life Writing, Oxford University.
Tessa McWatt is the author of six novels and two books for young people. Her fiction has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the City of Toronto Book Awards, and the OCM Bocas Prize. She is one of the winners of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award 2018 and is also a librettist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her first non-fiction book, Shame On Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, will be published in 2019.
Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.
Image: Auguste Renoir, Maternite (1912), Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, USA
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