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On the 14th January this year Words &
Women were invited to the launch of Guinevere Glasfurd’s debut novel The Words In My Hand. Guin has been a
long time supporter of Words & Women and has managed our Twitter feed for
the past couple of years, so we were delighted to accept the invitation and
travelled over to Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge on a freezing, dark night. The
weather was so biting that we were concerned that Guin wouldn’t get much of an audience
but happily the bookshop was packed, many people keen to meet the author whose
book had just been selected as Times Book of the Month.
The Words in my Handis the reimagined true story
of Helena, a 17th century Dutch maid, desperate to educate herself and use her
mind, in an era where women were kept firmly in their place.
Helena works for an English bookseller who rents out a room to
the mysterious ‘Monsieur’. On his arrival, ‘Monsieur’ turns out to be René
Descartes. For all his learning, it is Helena he seeks out as she reveals the
surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him. Descartes and Helena form an
unlikely bond which turns from teaching into an affair.
(c) Saskia Glasfurd-Brown
Weaving together the story of Descartes' quest for reason with
Helena's struggle for literacy, The Words in my Handfollows Helena's journey
across the Dutch Republic as she tries to keep their young daughter secret.
Helena and Descartes’ worlds overlap yet remain sharply divided; the only way
of being together is living unseen. However, they soon face a terrible tragedy,
and ultimately have to decide if their love is possible at all.
The Words in my Handtells Helena’s story – a woman
who yearned for knowledge, who wanted to write so much that she made her own
ink from beetroot and used her body for paper.
Dr Erik-Jan Bos (c) Saskia Glasfurd-Brown
The launch began with a short speech from Lisa Highton,
Guin’s publisher at Two Roads Books which is an imprint of John Murray Press.
Dr Erik-Jan Bos, who was the academic advisor on the book, then talked movingly
about Descartes and his relationship with Helena. Guin followed with a reading from her novel, and the evening
ended on thanks for the many people who have given her advice and support during
Words And Women will review The Words in my Hand on this blog at a later date, but in the meantime we wish
to congratulate Guin and wish her every success with the book.
Guin Glasfurd's short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, the
Scotsman and in a collection from The National Galleries of Scotland. The Words In My Hand, her first novel, was written
with the support of a grant from Arts Council England. She also works
collaboratively with artists in the UK and South Africa and her work has been
funded under the Artists' International Development Fund, (Arts Council England
and the British Council). She can be found online at guinevereglasfurd.com and
@guingb. She lives on the edge of the Fens, near Cambridge. Rights to the novel
have sold in Germany (Ullstein Buchverlage), France (Livre de Poche),
Netherlands (Luitingh-Sijthoff Amsterdam) and Spain (Siruela).
Reddis in her second year of a PhD in creative and critical writing at the
University of East Anglia. She has recently completed a draft of her first
novel, Vore, a darkly comic dystopia, and is currently halfway through a
second, Bodeg, which is set on a fictional island in the Arctic Circle.Her short story The Second First Time will feature in Words And Women: Three.
Sarah Ridgard is a graduate of the University
of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing. She won a place on the Escalator
Literature programme run by the Writers Centre Norwich in 2009, and three years
later went on to publish her debut novel, Seldom Seen, with Random House. The novel was
longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 for new fiction, the New
Angle Prize for Literature and shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best
First Novel Award. Sarah lives in Norwich and is currently working on
her second novel. Her story Thin Walls will appear in Words And Women: Three
Claudine Toutoungi trained as an actress at LAMDA and has
worked as a BBC radio drama producer and teacher. In 2014 her play Slipping premiered at The Stephen Joseph
Theatre, Scarborough. Her radio adaptation, starring Andrew Scott and Charlotte
Riley, was nominated for three awards at the 2015 BBC Audio Drama Awards. Other
theatre and radio credits include: Deliverers
(BBC R4), Home Front (BBC R4), Bit Part (Stephen Joseph Theatre
Scarborough), Outside In (Junction,
Cambridge) and Life Skills (Shared
Experience at the Hampstead Theatre). She was a UK Arvon/Jerwood Foundation
mentee, working with Colin Teevan. Her poetry features in the 2015 anthology
New Poetries VI, (Carcanet), has appeared in a wide range of publications
and in 2015 was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize.Her story Room Servicewill be included in Words And Women: Three.
Louise Tree is a writer and scholar. Her work explores the ways in which we
imagine the past and how stories can speak to one another. Her literary
passions are fairy tales, Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf.Current writing projects include a monograph
on history writing in the reign of Anne, and a novel about war and memory. She
has a PhD in History of Ideas and has interests in women’s writing and the
writing of history in the eighteenth century. She teaches History as an
Associate Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and has taught English
Literature, Philosophy and History for many years. Her short story The Colours of Snowwill feature in Words And Women: Three
Nicola Milleris a columnist
and features writer for a paid-for weekly newspaper called The Bury Free Press
and is based in West Suffolk. She usually writes about landscape, books, and
food and also enjoys long form memoir. She has her own website, The Millers Tale. Her short story I’m Not Christianewill feature in Words And Women: Three.
graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA and also completed a creative/critical
PhD on documentary theatre. She has written a number of plays which have
been produced in Norwich and Cambridge, and also published over twenty books of
language-learner literature, three of which won the Extensive Reading Award.
She lives in Norwich and teaches creative writing at UEA where she also
produces FLY, the Festival of Literature for Young people. Her memoir A Canary In Kabulwill
appear in Words And Women: Three
Patricia Mullin was shortlisted for
an Arts Council East Escalator Award in 2009. Her 2005 novel Gene Genie was republished as an e–book
in 2012. Two short stories,
The Sitting and The Siren, were published in Words
And Women: One and Words And Women: Two respectively. Her novel Casting Shadows was commended in the
Yeovil International Literary prize 2014, judged by Elisabeth Buchan. In 2015
Patricia was awarded an Arts Council England grant to re-draft Casting Shadows. Her story Foldingwill be included in Words And Women: Three.
her job as a social worker to study storytelling. She won the internationally
acclaimed Moth True Stories Told Live in 2014 and appeared on Radio 4 in 2015
to talk about storytelling. More recently, Glenys has become involved in
volunteering with refugees as the ever increasing humanitarian crisis spreads
through the lands. Glenys will be touring with a performance of refugee stories
throughout 2016. Her work of non-fiction, The End Of The Line, will appear in Words And Women: Three
Julie Kemmyhas been writing
for pleasure since she was about 12 years old, and in more recent years has
been writing character studies, short stories, and the outlines of bigger
ideas. She works full-time so usually it is only on holidays that she
achieves anything. She would describe herself as a great reader and
admirer of other good writers, with a lot to learn. Her short story Colinwill
feature in Words And Women: Three.
Isabelle King is an actress,
writer and producer. She’s the founder of Books Talk Back; literary events
which support and showcase new writing talent. Isabelle's writing has been
short-listed for the Ideas/Writers' Centre Norwich national fiction competition
and she won an arts journalism competition to be the Embedded Writer at the
Family Arts Conference 2015. Isabelle has written a children's book of short
stories and frequently reads them at family events throughout Norfolk. Her storyYou’re In The Movies, Huni will appear
in Words And Women: Three
Kathy Mansfield was runner up in a
competition by Leaf Books in 2006 with The
Steady Bookkeeper which was published as a single short story, set in
Malawi. She does not write about stereotypical ‘African’ tragedies: famine,
war, destitution. She writes about the other Africa: a complex, energetic and
optimistic continent of fifty four very different countries.Her current project is a collection of short
stories set in the context of Zimbabwe and its sometimes violent efforts to
change from a white-owned system of agriculture to one which reflects the larger
population. Her story The Friendswill be included in Words And Women: Three.
C.G. Menon has won a number
of short story awards, including the Asian Writer prize, the Winchester
Festival award and The Short Story prize. Her stories have been broadcast on
radio and are published or forthcoming in journals including The Lonely Crowd
and anthologies such as Siren Press' Fugue
II, the Rubery Book Award short story collection, the Willesden Herald
shortlist and the first Words and Women collection. She lives in Cambridge, and
is currently working on her first novel. Her story Sacramentswill feature in Words And Women: Three.
Margaret Meyeris a writer,
therapeutic counsellor and bibliotherapist. She has worked in schools, museums,
and is currently a reader-in-residence in the prison service. Before training
in psychology she was a fiction editor with Hodder & Stoughton NZ,
publisher for the Museum of London, and director of literature for the British
Council, promoting UK writers around the world.A former journalist, Margaret’s non-fiction has been widely published.
Her latest, an essay on ‘not knowing’, is included in the forthcoming The Wisdom of Not Knowing, published by
Triarchy Press. Margaret’s story Leda’s Swan will appear in Words And
Sharon Eckmanwas Time Out
Travel Writer of the Year in 1995 and her non-fiction has appeared in
broadsheets and travel magazines on topics ranging from hunting in Namibia to
science fiction fans in London. She was longlisted for the Fish Memoir Prize
2015 and shortlisted for the Words and Women 'About' competition in 2014. Her
first novel is currently out with agents and her short story, Dinner for Four,
will be published in Shooter Lit's 'Surreal' edition in January 2016.Her short story Charis will
feature in Words And Women: Three.
Victoria Hattersley lives in Norwich,
works in publishing and has a six year-old daughter. She began writing in 2013
and has had stories published in Unthology
6 by Unthank Books (Norwich) and Before
Passing by Great Weather for MEDIA (New York). In addition to writing short
stories, she is currently working on her first novel, The Lantern Man. Her story Looking For Jim Morrison will appear in Words And Women: Three
Danusia Iwaszkois a playwright who
lives in Bury St Edmunds, and works regularly in the region and throughout the
country. She is Artistic Associate at The Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds,for whom she wrote the musical A Labour of Lovein 2015. Her plays have been produced by Eastern Angles, Theatre
Royal York, Studio 503, Menagerie Cambridge and she was attached writer at The
National Theatre Studio in 2006. She regularly leads writing workshops and runs
her own theatre company The Hal Company. Still
Life, her story which will be included in Words And Women: Three, was inspired by a statue of a woman on
Brixton mainline station.
Sara Keenehas spent most of
her career in show-business PR, first as a film publicist and latterly
as the press representative for a number of actors and directors. She
recently completed the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck College and is writing a novel inspired by her experience of
life at the heels of the famous. She claims it will be entirely fictional. She
is also planning a children’s book about a boy and his very
unusual dog. Sara’s story The Accomplicewill
feature in Words And Women: Three.