The Writer in the Library

Tracy Chevalier

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Finding inspiration with authors Tracy Chevalier, Romesh Gunesekera, Charlotte Mendelsohn and Stef Penney

From Lenin to Johnny Depp, thousands of authors, researchers and the public have consulted the British Library collection over the years, taking inspiration from its wealth and variety, or simply from the Library's unique atmosphere as a place to work and write.

Historical novelist Tracy Chevalier, British Library board member and author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, speaks to the authors Romesh Gunesekera, Charlotte Mendelsohn and Stef Penny about what it means to create fiction in a place that is home to over 150 million items, some dating back 3,000 years.

Tracy Chevalier is the author of eight historical novels, including the international bestseller Girl With A Pearl Earring, which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. American by birth, British by geography, she lives in London with her husband and son. Her latest novel, At The Edge Of The Orchard, is set among the apple trees of Ohio and the redwoods and sequoias of California. She is also editor of Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired By Jane Eyre. Tracy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Member of the Board of the British Library, and President of the Royal Literary Fund. She has honorary doctorates from her alma maters Oberlin College and the University of East Anglia.

Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka and lives in Britain. His first novel Reef was shortlisted for the 1994 Man Booker Prize. He is also the author of The Sandglass,(winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award) and Heaven's Edge which, like his collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Charlotte Mendelson’s first novel, Love in Idleness, was published in 2001. Her second, Daughters of Jerusalem won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award. Her third, When We Were Bad, was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Almost English, her fourth, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Stef Penney is a screenwriter and the author of three novels, The Tenderness of Wolves, The Invisible Ones, and Under a Pole Star. She has also written extensively for radio, including adaptations of Moby Dick, The Worst Journey in the World, and, mostly recently, a third installment of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series. The Tenderness of Wolves won Costa Book of the Year, Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, was translated into 30 languages and has recently been re-issued in a 10th anniversary edition.


Name: The Writer in the Library
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £8.00
Member: £5.00
Senior 60+: £6.00
Student: £5.00
Registered Unemployed: £5.00
Under 18: £5.00
Friend of the BL: £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546