This special Faber Members film marks the paperback publication of Square Haunting, a group biography which explores the lives of five women connected by Mecklenburgh Square, the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power and writer and publisher Virginia Woolf.
Francesca Wade will be in conversation with Deborah Levy, author of novels including The Man Who Saw Everything, Swimming Home and Hot Milk. Members are invited to submit questions for Francesca Wade in advance to email@example.com
The film will be shared directly with Faber Members on 23 February via the Members newsletter.
Francesca Wade has written for publications including the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times, the Paris Review, the Guardian, New Statesman, frieze and Prospect. She is the outgoing editor of the White Review and a recipient of a Robert B. Silvers Grant for Work in Progress and a 2020–21 Fellowship at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. Her first book, Square Haunting, was a Sunday Times Literary Non-Fiction Book of the Year, a Guardian Best Book of the Year (as chosen by authors) and longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.
‘I like this London life . . . the street-sauntering and square-haunting.’ Virginia Woolf, diary, 1925
Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, was home to activists, experimenters and revolutionaries; among them were the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power and writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. They each alighted there, seeking a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.
H.D.’s unconventional ménage and tangles with D. H. Lawrence inspired a lifetime of innovative works, while Sayers wrote her first bestseller and faced down a fraught challenge to her principles. Harrison and her creative partner Hope Mirrlees mingled with Russian émigrés and found fresh intellectual impetus in translation. One of the first female professors at the London School of Economics, known for her vocal pacifism, Eileen Power’s BBC radio broadcasts were as popular as her ‘kitchen dances’. And, as World War II began, Woolf wrestled with ambitious personal projects and the looming threat.
Francesca Wade’s spellbinding group biography explores how these trailblazing women pushed the boundaries of literature, scholarship and social norms, forging careers that would have been impossible without these rooms of their own.
Deborah Levy is an author, poet and playwright. She has been shortlisted twice for both the Goldsmiths Prize and the Man Booker Prize. She is the author of highly praised novels including Swimming Home, Hot Milk and The Man Who Saw Everything, and her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Levy is also the author of a formally innovative and emotionally daring trilogy of memoirs, a living autobiography on writing, gender politics and philosophy. The first two volumes, Things I Don’t Want to Know and The Cost of Living, won the Prix Femina Etranger 2020; the final volume, Real Estate, will be published in spring 2021.
Francesca Wade in conversation with Deborah Levy
Released: 23 February 2021