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Monmouth and Aberystwyth Groups: Writing the Writing Life

11 March @ 14:00 - 15:00 GMT

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Join the Monmouth and Aberystwyth Groups on Friday 11 March from 2pm and hear from Fiona Sampson in conversation with Matthew Jarvis on being Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s biographer. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s life is a fascinating story of writerly self-invention against the odds. To contemporaries she was an international literary celebrity and a highly effective public advocate of progressive social and political causes. Yet the last century has seen her reputation traduced as an ineffectual neurasthenic by numerous theatre, film and TV iterations of Rudolf Besier’s 1931 fiction, The Barretts of Wimpole Street. This process itself offers insights into how literary reputations are made, and unmade. Moreover, Barrett Browning’s 1856 masterpiece, Aurora Leigh, whose protagonist is herself an emerging poet, is the first bildungsroman – the story of how a self develops – written by and about a woman. For all these reasons, her life and work pose peculiar challenges to a biographer, who must stretch the traditional form to accommodate her.

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, published in thirty-eight languages, who has received a number of national and international awards. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Wordsworth Trust, she’s received an MBE for Services to Literature and is Emeritus Professor, University of Roehampton. Her work includes writing about place including Limestone Country (2017), a Guardian Book of the Year; her internationally acclaimed biographies are In Search of Mary Shelley (2018), finalist for the Biographers’ Club first biography prize, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2021), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Washington Post and Prospect Book of the Year 2021, longlisted for the 2022 PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

All members welcome from the surrounding area!

Local group online meet-ups are free to attend. To join us, click the Going button below and enter your details in the RSVP form. We’ll send you an email with a link to join us on Zoom.

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11 March
14:00 - 15:00 GMT
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Francesca Howell