Reading Mick Imlah at the Rugby World Cup

“Sport matters,” wrote Mick Imlah, “because it doesn’t matter.” After Scotland’s 13-12 defeat to Argentina at the Rugby World Cup, it’s hard to know if this line helps or not. For fly-half Dan Parks, who fluffed a late drop-goal attempt that would have altered his team’s fate, it might confirm his despair. But had Scotland…

Writing the Queen’s Agent

Shortly before completing The Queen’s Agent, I felt compelled to revisit the National Portrait Gallery where my interest in Francis Walsingham was first kindled. I stood in front of his portrait for a long time, coming to terms with the man whose life I had been working to reconstruct. Other visitors peered past, curious why…

In Rude Health

On Sunday, at a ceremony in the Gresham Metropole Hotel in Cork, a resplendent Edna O’Brien won the 7th Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize. It is a prestigious award, not only for its association with the great Irish writer, O’Connor. It is the world’s most generous prize for the best collection of stories published that…

Bloodland: An Interview with Alan Glynn

Last night (September 13th) saw the launch, at Dublin’s Gutter Bookshop, of Bloodland, the new crime thriller from Alan Glynn, author of Winterland and Limitless, which this year has been on our screens in a Box Office-topping adaptation featuring A-listers Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro. Set in multiple timezones, including Africa, Europe and North America, Bloodland (‘A cracking conspiracy…

Qualified praise for the formidable ‘Miss Willmott of Warley Place’ – a horticultural legend

Ellen Ann Willmott One notable hit with readers among our past offerings has just received a very fine online appreciation: I speak of Miss Willmott of Warley Place by Audrey Le Lievre, a study of the pioneering turn-of-the-century gardener Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934). The York Cycling Gardener (a gardening service that presents and seems to…

The perenially ‘sharp’ if ‘under-read’ Sylvia (Townsend Warner); and ‘fantastic’ Faber Finds (!)

We are most grateful for any and all interest in our offerings from the well-read daily papers, and so take special pride in this commendation from the Guardian‘s September fiction paperback round-up of last week. Justine Jordan writes that: “the fantastic Faber Finds – “The Place for Lost Books” – has rescued Sylvia Townsend Warner’s…