Talking Books: Novel History

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Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities presents:

Event Date: Saturday, 6 June 2009

As historical fiction enjoys a huge commercial renaissance, this debate will explore how far the changes in the last forty years of historiography means that novelists willing to spend real time in the archives and libraries are now producing a new kind of historical fiction, more accurate and thus more truthful about the past, than the work of their predecessors.

Speakers:

speaker_joanna_bourkeJoanna Bourke (Birkbeck) is Professor of History at Birkbeck. She is the award-winning author of nine books, including books on Irish history, gender and “the body”, the history of psychological thought, modern warfare, the emotions, and sexual violence. She is currently writing a history of humanity and animality.



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speaker_hilarymantelHilary Mantel, studied law at LSE and Sheffield University, and lived for some years in Africa and the Middle East. Her nine novels include A Place of Greater Safety, set in Paris during the Revolution, and The Giant O’Brien, set in London in the 1780s. For her new book she has shifted back to the Tudor era; Wolf Hall traces the early career of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s minister, and will be followed by a second novel to conclude Cromwell’s story. She has also written radio drama, a short story collection called Learning to Talk, and a memoir, Giving Up The Ghost. A former film critic of The Spectator, she writes for a range of papers here and in the USA.

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speaker_sarahdunantSarah Dunant, (BIH Research Fellow) Sarah studied history at Newnham College Cambridge in the early 1970’s, from where she went on to become a writer, broadcaster and critic. She has written eleven novels, four of which have been short listed for awards, three screen plays and edited two books of essays. She worked for many years with the BBC in radio and television, producing and presenting arts documentaries and magazine programmes , most notably The Late Show on BBC 2 (1989 – 1996) and Night Waves (Radio 3 1996- 2004). For several years she presented the BBC television’s coverage of the Booker Man prize for fiction. She was a founding patron of the Orange Prize for women’s fiction, and writes and reviews for many British newspapers including The Times, The Observer and the Guardian, and sits on the editorial board of The Royal Academy’s art magazine. She has taught at Goldsmith College in London and Washington University at St Louis and lectures regularly to American students in Florence. Her recent novels The Birth of Venus ( set in Florence in 1490’s ) and In the Company of the Courtesan ( Venice 1550’s ) have been international best sellers and the final volume of the Renaissance trilogy Sacred Hearts will be published in June 2009 .

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speaker_johnsutherlandJohn Sutherland (UCL) is the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at UCL. He has written a number of books on Fiction, including: Fiction and the Fiction Industry, Bestsellers, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. He is currently engaged on writing The Lives of the Novelists for Profile Books.



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Discussion:

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