Persephone Books-May 2012 Newsletter

Persephone Books are exquisite. Take a look at their website. This is the May, 2012 newsletter.

30 May 2012
Well, we are ready for the Jubilee weekend – the Union Jack in the window (on the ironing board and plus iron) and the window boxes planted with red, white and blue petunias. We are all hoping that Sunday will be as glorious as this Canaletto – River Thames with St Paul’s Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day c. 1747-8.:

Then on Tuesday we are having a neighbours’ tea party – cucumber sandwiches and cake out of Emma Bridgewater cake tins.

When we were in Los Angeles we saw the posters for the new film called Hemingway and Gellhorn and we had a little giggle because of course we ¬– and every Persephone reader ¬ ¬– can’t wait to see the film: Martha Gellhorn was not only a journalist but an incredible novelist, A Stricken Field (1940) being probably her best novel, and Hemingway was, well, Hemingway. The reason for the giggle is that it’s hard to imagine the two words Gellhorn and Hemingway having even remotely mass appeal. No matter, the film is obviously memorable, here is a review, scroll down for the trailer; the sooner the film opens in the UK the better, we can’t wait.
Talking of incredible women – English Heritage has just put up four new blue plaque – and all to women: Constance Spry, Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys and Elisabeth Welch.

And this English Heritage page makes it plain that they are working on putting up a plaque to Martha Gellhorn, as well as other hitherto unsung women. Talking of which, a Berthe Morisot exhibition has just finished in Paris. She was a spectacular artist. The Financial Times wrote about her here .‘The only woman to exhibit in the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1874, such was her standing that Degas declared: “We think Berthe Morisot’s name and talent are too important for us do without.” Yet Morisot was no Amazon….She suffered for her art, and her art suffered as a result. The oeuvre itself, top-heavy with images of women and children – in living-rooms, blossom-bursting gardens and sunlit, shady parks – testifies to an artist devoted to the domestic, intimate and private…It was Morisot’s fate to be born in an epoch that would have frowned on any woman painter who dared to venture, à la Monet and Caillebotte, into the public realm. (That women were only permitted to enrol in L’École des Beaux-Arts two years after her death, and that her death certificate recorded her as having “no profession” reveals much about the challenges she faced.)’

Another pioneering woman: the novelist Elizabeth Taylor. There will be a conference about her life and work in Cambridge on Saturday July 7th. Here are the abstracts of the papers that will be delivered. Anglia Ruskin has a tradition of hosting very good conferences about ‘neglected women writers’.
Most Persephone readers will be familiar with David Gentleman’s work, in part because he drew the shop for us in 2001 and his drawing is on our website here..He is a superb artist and now his new book London You’re Beautiful is bringing him new admirers. Here is a fascinating video about David and about the book.Tavistock Square is below. Congratulations too to his daughter Amelia Gentleman for winning the Orwell Prize for Journalism last week.

The Independent on Sunday ran an article abut Rachel Ferguson in which it called Alas, Poor Lady her most interesting book. And in 1976 Noel Streatfeild was on Desert Island Discs – you can listen to this here. And do look out for details of an exhibition by the brilliant Anne-Catherine Phillips .
Finally, last weekend Persephone Books was at the Steyning Literary Festival. There is a most beautiful walk from Steyning and the First World War poet Philip Johnson wrote this about it:
I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.
But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch
When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which.
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.

So we assault in half an hour, and – it’s a silly thing – 

I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.
rNicola Beauman
59 Lambs Conduit Street
30 May 2012 I

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