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Past Events

Events in 2017

On December 7th Lamb’s Conduit Street had its annual Christmas Fair. Mulled wine and mince pies were served free of charge throughout the day and until 8 p.m in the shop.The books were at the usual price of £13 or three for £33 but gift wrapping was free

At a Lunch on December 6th the writer Claire Tomalin gave an informal talk called A Bloomsbury Life: this was about her own forays in Bloomsbury (Great Turnstile and Grays Inn Rd) described in her recent A Life of My Own and those of some of the subjects of her books (Mary Wollstonecraft in Store Street, Katherine Mansfield in Grays Inn Rd, Dickens in Doughty Street etc). 

On November 25th and 26th we were at the Christmas Fair at Great Dixter nr. Rye. A selection of our books were for sale.

On November 21st we showed American Friends (1991); set in the Swiss Alps and Oxford in the early 1860s, it is about Michael Palin’s great-grandfather, an Oxford don, and his romantic encounter with a young American woman. The film was introduced by its writer and star Michael Palin and by its director Tristram Powell. A glass of wine and cheese straws was served. 

On October 10th at 6 pm Philippe Sands QC, author of the prize-winning East-West Street, gave a talk about anti-semitism in fiction with reference to Earth and High Heaven. Wine and cheese straws were served.

There was a Lunch on October 4th to celebrate the publication in paperback of Angela Thirlwell’s Rosalind: A Biography of Shakespeare’s Immortal Heroine: ‘a model of popular Shakespearean scholarship: engagingly accessible and contagiously enthusiastic.’ Angela will talk about the book and the actress Michelle Terry will read some of Rosalind's speeches: they are curiously 21srt century.

By kind permission of the Leifer family, there was a Tea on September 27th in the Downshire Hill house in Hampstead lived in for sixty years by Amber Reeves, author of A Lady and Her Husband.

The famous 1974 Fassbinder film of Effi Briest  (PB. 122) was shown in the shop on September 14th. 

On 12th July in the shop we showed the rare and unforgettable 1924 silent film of Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home-Maker, PB. No. 7.

On July 6th  there was a reading with actors of the new play The Long Bones by the actress and writer Juliet Aykroyd. It is about the last days of the poet Alun Lewis on leave in India and with the army in Burma in 1944. 

On June 29th at a Lunch Dr Charlie Lee-Potter, author of the Afterword to Effi Briest, was ‘in conversation’ with Nicola Beauman about the nineteenth century ‘adultery’ novel.

On June 14th at 11 a.m. Dr Clara Jones, who used to work in the shop and now teaches at King’s College, London, led a walk retracing the route, from Dean’s Yard in Westminster to Bond Street, taken 'on a Wednesday in mid June 1923' by Mrs Dalloway in Virginia Woolf’s novel. Lunch was served afterwards at Lamb’s Conduit Street.

On June 8th we had a trip to the Towner in Eastbourne where the new exhibition: Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, contained work by Tirzah Garwood. We  assembled at 12.30 for a light lunch, went to the exhibition and then had a cup of tea at the Towner café.

On May 18th  there was a Possibly Persephone? event when people suggested books for publication; focusing this time on WOC and LGBT novels. Wine and cheese straws were served.

On March 3rd we had a trip to Great Bardfield where Eric Ravilious and Tirzah Garwood lived. We met for lunch at The Vine, then walked round Great Bardfield and re-assembled for a cup of tea at the excellent local bookshop Between the Lines which stocks Persephone books.

On February 9th at a Lunch Dr Nikki Frater gave an illustrated talk about Rex Whistler, the subject both of her PhD and an excellent website curated by her.

On January 24th  we screened the 1946 film of They Knew Mr Knight.

Events in 2016

Our Christmas Open Day, when mulled wine and mince pies were served and all books were gift-wrapped free of charge, was on December 1st; the shops in the street were also open late for the Lamb’s Conduit Street Christmas Party.

Anne Ullmann was ‘in conversation’ with Nicola about her mother Tirzah Garwood and her father Eric Ravilious at a Lunch in the shop on  November 29th

 We screened the 2012 film, (in French with subtitles) of Madame Solario on November 23rd

There was a lunch on November 16th at which Harriet Evans, who wrote the wonderful preface to Because of the Lockwoods, was ‘in conversation’ with Lydia Fellgett about our most beloved author Dorothy Whipple.

 York’s Big City Read kindly celebrated our books at a literary supper’ on November 10th: Nicola Beauman talked at the Rowntree Park Reading Café about Persephone’s WW1 novels. 

On October 22nd and 23rd as part of the Bloomsbury Festival there was a free cream tea in the shop and Lydia gave a short talk about our books. 

On October 4th Jonathan Smithauthor of Persephone Book No. 107 Wilfred and Eileen, introduced and discussed the ITV film based on his book about Churchill.

On September 13th Anne Sebba spoke at a Lunch about her new book Les Parisiennes and Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar, author of Persephone Book No. 115, Maman, What are we Called Now?

The 1953 film of Little Boy Lost (PB No. 28) starring Bing Crosby was shown on July 19th with a cream tea being served beforehand and madeira served afterwards.

On July 6th at a Lunch Samantha Ellis talked about Amber Reeves and A Lady and Her Husband, PB No.116, for which she wrote  the Preface.

On June 16th we were invited to Prendergast School, Adelaide Avenue, Brockley, SE4 1LE to see the murals painted in 1933–6 by Evelyn Dunbar (joint author of Gardeners’ Choice, PB No.114). Afterwards we had tea at the Hilly Fields Café.

On June 12th the shop was open as part of the Lamb’s Conduit Street's Celebration of the Queen’s Birthday.

On June 10th Nicola Beauman gave a teatime talk about Dorothy Whipple at the second Derby Book Festival.

The first event of the early summer was a Lunch on May 18th when Ann Thwaite (who wrote the Preface to The Godwits Fly) and the poet Fleur Adcock, a New Zealander by birth who lives in England, were ‘in conversation’ about Robin Hyde.

On March 10th there was a Cream Tea at Hancox TN33 ONX, the subject of HancoxA House and a Family by Charlotte Moore, who showed us around the house and talked about her novels, including Milicent’s Book about her ancestor.

On February 28th Leonard Woolf ’s The Wise Virgins, Persephone Book No. 43, was discussed by Anne Sebba, Lyndall Gordon and Nicola Beauman at a Jewish Book Week event at King’s Place London N1 9AG.

On February 24th Persephone gave a talk at the Blewbury WI OX11 9QB about Barbara Euphan Todd, author of Miss Ranskill Comes Home,Persephone Book No. 46, who lived in the village.

On February 2nd  Susan Stein returned to the UK to give a repeat performance of her extraordinary one-woman show about Etty Hillesum cf. ettyplay.org

The 1964 film of The Pumpkin Eater, which is based on the book by Penelope Mortimer, author of Persephone Book No. 77 Daddy’s Gone A’ Hunting, was shown on January 21st; a cream tea was served. 

Events in 2015

The annual Persephone Open Day (when books are gift-wrapped free of charge, mince pies and mulled wine are served) was on December 9th.Jane Brocket and Claerwen James were present, knitting and making origami stars respectively. 

On December 3rd Christopher Campbell- Howes, author of the Afterword to Gardeners’ Choice by Charles Mahoney and Evelyn Dunbar, talked in the shop at a Tea about his ancestor Evelyn Dunbar and the book; and about the exhibition at the Pallant which runs until February 14th.

We were at the Selvedge Christmas Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall on December 3rd and 4th

On December 1st and 2nd Sylvia Jessua-Amar talked at two packed events in the shop about her mother Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar.

On November 28th and 29th we were at glorious Great Dixter selling our books.

On November 24th Jocelyn Fiennes talked about her book about English Surnames and told us about the names of some of our authors eg. Whipple and Playfair.

On November 17th we showed the film of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day; we started with the filmed interview with Winifred Watson’s son Keith Pickering, who was present and then talked to us about his mother. 

On September 22nd the owners of Roppelegh’s near Haslemere, Mollie Panter- Downes’s former home, kindly invited us to a Lunch to celebrate the publication of London War Notes. The actress Susan Wooldridge read four of the pieces and, as is traditional, we walked through the garden to visit Mollie’s writing hut.

On July 9th at the shop we showed the excellent and difficult-to-get-hold-of film of Into the Whirlwind starring Emily Watson.

On July 1st, at Byfords Café in Holt, Norfolk we celebrated the publication of Jane Hervey’s Vain Shadow, Persephone Book No. 112. Tea and/or a glass of wine was served at 5, there will be a question-and-answer with Jane Hervey and Celia Robertson, the preface writer, and at 6 o’clock a light supper was served.

On Wednesday June 10th at a Lunch from 12.30–2.30 Anne Harvey, Elizabeth Counsell and Charlotte Harvey performed readings of WW1 poetry called ‘Scars upon My Heart’, based on the book of the same name. Richard Furstenheim linked the poetry, diaries & letters with music of the war years.

On Friday June 5th there was a Persephone event as part of the new Derby Book Festival – it took place at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel from 3-5 when a cream tea was served, there was a talk (‘The First Fifteen Years’) and a selection of our books were for sale.

There is an exhibition of Eric Ravilious watercolours at the Dulwich Picture Gallery until August 31st. To celebrate this the curator, James Russell, gave an illustrated talk on Ravilious’s Life and Works at a Persephone Lunch on Thursday June 4th.

On Friday June 5th there will be a Persephone event as part of the new Derby Book Festival – it will take place at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel from 3-5 when a cream tea will be served, there will be a talk (‘The First Fifteen Years’) and a selection of our books will be for sale. Please note: booking for this event is only by phone at the Festival Box Office on 01332 290606  .

On May 19th the novelist Rachel Billington talked at a Persephone Lunch from in the shop about the Persephone fiction of WW1 (William – an EnglishmanWilfred and EileenThe HappyTree) and her own new novel Glory: A Story of Gallipoli.

The first event of the spring was on May 12th when Nicola Beauman gave a talk at Barnetts Bookshop, Wadhurst, E. Sussex: ‘Persephone Books: The First Fifteen Years’.

On 1th March there was a party at Pushkin House at which the winner of the first Persephone Prize, Eve Lacey, was presented with her prize and read some paragraphs from her prizewinning entry.

On February 12th Harriet Evans spoke eloquently at a lunch celebrating Dorothy Whipple and in particular Because of the Lockwoods for which she wrote the Preface.

Two Persephone girls have now done PhDs on 'our' authors, Clara Jones on Virginia Woolf and Lydia Fellgett on Betty Miller. They talked about their subjects at a Lunch in the shop on February 4th.

On January 14th there was an illustrated talk in the shop about the (nearly) six years of the Persephone Post.

Events in 2014

On December 9th we had our annual Christmas Open Day when our books were available gift-wrapped free of charge, Jane Brocket was selling her books at a reduced price; Cambridge Imprint was selling their papers, and mulled wine and Konditor & Cook mince pies were served all day.

Victor de Waal talked about his mother Elisabeth de Waal, who wrote The Exiles Return, Persephone Book No. 102, on 2nd December which was the day she was born 115 years ago. This was a Teatime event: tea and cake and madeira were served.

On Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th November we were at the Christmas Fair at Great Dixter near Rye. 

On 19th November from 4.30–6.30pm in the shop there was a short talk accompanying the showing of the 1945 film of They Knew Mr Knight. A cup of tea (in our new vintage cups and saucers) and a slice of cake was served beforehand and a glass of wine halfway through.

The first event this winter was the Country Living Fair at the Agricultural Hall in Islington from 12th–16th November. We launched at Country Living in 1999 and this will be the fifth time we have been there. 

On October 15th Lynne Hatwell, aka dovegreyreader, talked at a Persephone Lunch on the theme of mothers and children in Persephone books, covering titles such as SaplingsFamily Roundabout and Princes in the Land.

On Wednesday October 8th there was another event at Carlyle’s House in Chelsea. We met at 5 for a tour of the house, and over a glass of madeira, sitting in Carlyle’s attic, had an informal bookgroup about The Carlyles at Home, Persephone Book no. 32.

On September 24th the NADFAS lecturer and Pevsner biographer Susie Harries gave a Lunchtime Lecture with slides at the shop. Her subject wasl  The Architecture of Bloomsbury. 

The first Curious Arts Festival took place at Pylewell Park from Friday July 18th until Sunday 20th. On Saturday 19th there was a Cream Tea and Talk about the first fifteen years of Persephone Books.

On July 9th we showed the 1981 four-part (2 hour long) television serial of Jonathan Smith’s novel Wilfred and Eileen starring Judi Bowker and Christopher Guard, again at the BFI in Stephen Street.

On June 25th we showed the superb but very rarely-shown 2009 film of Within the Whirlwind at the British Film Institute 21 Stephen Street W1; it stars Emily Watson, who is brilliant and unforgettable. 

On June 16th at Pushkin House, the home of Russian culture in London, 5A Bloomsbury Square WC1, Sir Rodric Braithwaite, who wrote the Persephone Afterword to Into the Whirlwind, and Professor Catherine Merridale, an expert on C20th Russian history, were in conversation about Eugenia Ginzburg. 

On June 4th there was a Persephone Tea in a house on the Green in Rottingdean. This was the setting for The Squire, Persephone book No. 103. The owners of Prospect Cottage and North End House (formerly combined, with Aubrey Cottage, into one house) kindlyshowed us round, and then there wasl a cream tea at Hillside next door.

The first spring event was a Persephone Lunch on May 20th at which Jonathan Smith talked about his novel Wilfred and Eileen, Persephone Book No.107.

On February 12th we showed Without a Trace, the excellent 1983 film of Still Missing, Persephone Book No. 88 at the BFI.

 On January 28th the American actress Susan Stein presented her one-woman play based on the letters and diaries of Etty Hillesum, author of  Persephone Book No. 4, An Interrupted Life. The play, which only uses Etty’s own words, has been touring all over the world and we were very pleased that our shop could be the venue for this inspiring and important piece of theatre.

Events in 2013

On December 12th we had our annual Open Day when Mulled wine and mince pies were served and our books were gift-wrapped free of charge.

On November 28th Anne Sebba, biographer and NADFAS lecturer, gave the Ninth Persephone Lecture, The Pram in the Hall: Enid Bagnold, Writer and Mother at the October Gallery.

 At a Lunch on 14th November Rachel Cooke talked about her book Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the 1950s (‘plucky and ambitious, they left the house, discovered the bliss of work, and ushered in the era of the working woman’). One of the ten women is Patience Grey, co-author of Plats du Jour, Persephone Book No. 70; several other Persephone authors feature, as does Wendy Bray.

On September 12th there was a Tea at Roppelegh’s, the house near Haslemere where Mollie Panter-Downes lived. This celebrated the renovation of the writing hut in the nearby woods where she wrote all the stories in Good Evening, Mrs Craven and Minnie’s Room, Persephone Books Nos 8 and 34.

 On July 27th there was a Persephone outing to the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne where we viewed the exhibition of Lyons Lithographs.

 Maurice Wren, the Chief Executive of the Refugee Council (which is the recipient of the royalties for Persephone Book No. 102, Elisabeth de Waal’s The Exiles Return, spoke at a lunch on June 20th about the work of the Council and about The Exiles Return.

 On June 12th at the BFI we showed the film of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding starring Felicity Jones.

 On June 5th Wendy Bray, who in 1953 designed the endpaper we have used for Patience by John Coates,  was in conversation with Rachel Cooke  at a lunch to celebrate the launch of the Museums and Galleries notebook with her designs which we sell in the shop.

 On May 22nd there was a Tea with Diana Athill, author of Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, who read one of her newly discovered short stories.

 On March 12th, 75 years to the day since the Anschluss, Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, talked about his grandmother Elisabeth de Waal’s book The Exiles Return, Persephone Book No. 102.

 On March 7th Anne Harvey gathered together a group of actors to read the play of Patience by John Coates first performed in 1953.

 On February 14th Polly Loxton talked at a Lunch about her mother Barbara Loxton, an intrepid freelance war correspondent who was in Europe for a year from ’44-45.

 On January 24th there was a Persephone Lunch to celebrate the adaptation of The Making of a Marchioness into a film called The Making of a Lady starring Lydia Wilson. Anne Harvey gathered together a group of actors.

Events in 2012

On December 12th we had our annual Christmas Open Day when our books were available gift-wrapped free of charge, Jane Brocket was selling her books at a reduced price; mulled wine and Konditor & Cook mince pies were served all day.

On November 29th there was a party at the October Gallery 24 Old Gloucester Street. This free event (for 100 guests) was to thank Persephone readers for their support over thirteen years.

On  November 27th there was a Persephone event at the Emma Bridgewater factory at Stoke-on-Trent: we were shown over the factory, had lunch in the café and saw the Design Studio where the limited edition of the Persephone jug and bowl originated.

On  November 22nd Nicola Beauman, Publisher Persephone Books, gave the Eighth Persephone Lecture ‘From William to Patience: What is a Persephone Book?’ at Swedenborg Hall.

In celebration of our 100th book: from November 3rd-10th a (rented) 1957 Morris Traveller, packed with Persephone books, visited 25 bookgroups and bookshops. The route began at Much Wenlock and continued via Clungunford, Church Stretton, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Bishop’s Castle, Ludlow, Hereford, Bristol, Bradford on Avon, Bath, Stow-on-the-Wold and points inbetween.

On 25th September Dr Zarrina Kurtz, an expert on child mental health, talked at a Lunch. Her subject was DoreenSaplings and Miss Ranskill: How did Wartime Experience affect Children?

A Persephone outing to Bognor Regis where RC Sherriff’s The Fortnight in September is set took place on 20th September. The group met for lunch at a café in Bognor, had the walk (about an hour and a half) and then had tea.

On 5th July we showed the film of They Knew Mr Knight, Persephone Book No. 19, at the BFI, 21 Stephen Street, W1.

On 26th June the historian Christina Hardyment talked at a Lunch onWriting Britain: Wastelands to Wonderland, an exhibition at the British Library which runs until 5th September, for which she has written the accompanying book.

On 13th June Professor Jenny Hartley talked at a Lunch about Dickens in Doughty Street to celebrate his bicentenary and her newly published Selected Letters of Charles Dickens.

On 30th May the biographer Lyndall Gordon talked at a Lunch about A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf, for which she wrote the Preface.

The first event of the Spring was Tapas from 6-8 on 17th May when Rachel Cooke of theObserver talked about Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins, for which she wrote the Afterword.

On March 21st at Tapas from 6–8 Ann Thwaite and Gretchen Gerzina, both authors of biographies of Frances Hodgson Burnett, talked about the different biographical methods they used to explore her life and work.

On March 8th at Tapas from 6-8 Anne Harvey and Simon Brett  gave a performance of Harry and Virginia about Virginia Graham (who wrote Consider the Years) and her father Harry Graham.

There was another showing of the unexpectedly good film of Little Boy Lost (1953) on February 23rd  at the British Film Institute.

Diana Athill  talked about Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, Persephone book No.92, at a Persephone Tea on February 9th.

Events in 2011

On December 13th Charles Lock, Professor of English Literature at the University of Copenhagen, who has written the Greenbanks Afterword, gave a talk at a Lunch called ‘Dorothy Whipple: Why are her novels so unputdownable?’

On December 6th Sarah Dunant, broadcaster and bestselling author of The Birth of Venus(1490s Florence), In the Company of the Courtesan (1530s Venice) and Sacred Hearts (1570s Ferrara) gave the Seventh Persephone Lecture at Conway Hall in Red Lion Square WC1.Her illustrated talk was called Putting the Her into History: The Truth about Renaissance Women.

On November 23rd, at Tapas from 6–8Anthony Quinn was in conversation about Constance Maud’s No Surrender, Persephone Book No. 94, and his own novel about the suffragettes, Half of the Human Race (which we sell in the shop).

The first event this autumn was in a new format: Tapas (and wine) from 6–8. On November 8th Gill Clarke talked about the painter Evelyn Dunbar, whose biography she wrote in 2006; this celebrated the exhibition at Sim Fine Art of some newly discovered work by Dunbar (who featured on the Post in April).

On October 5th Maureen Lipman talked at a lunch about her acting and her writing and about Miss Ranskill Comes Home and The Expendable Man.

On September 22nd Debbie Kerslake of Cruse talked at a lunch about The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens.

On September 12th Michelene Wandor talked about adapting books, and in particular Every Eye and The Making of a Marchioness, for radio.

Diana Athill read from her short story collection Midsummer Night in the Workhouse and answered questions about her life and work at a Persephone Tea on July 6th. This event was to celebrate the audiobook of six stories read by her, now available from our website as a download. 

There was  a showing of the film of They Knew Mr Knight on June 30th  at the BFI  at 21 Stephen Street W1.

On June 16th there was an Afternoon of Walks in Bath.led by Caroline Kay, who runs the Bath Preservation Trust, and Adam Fergusson, author of The Sack of Bath.

On June 7th there was a Tea at Roppelegh’s, the house near Haslemere where Mollie Panter-Downes lived for fifty years. Lucy Scott, who is recording Good Evening, Mrs Craven as a Persephone Audiobook, read a story, a cream tea was served – thanks to the current owners of the house! – and we walked through the woods to Mollie’s writing hut.

We revived Possibly Persephone? on  May 25th: readers came to the shop to tell us about a title which they thought should be reprinted as a Persephone book.

The writer Adam Fergusson  talked at a Lunch on May 12th about his book The Sack of Bath

On May 7th  Persephone Books and Dr Merryn Williams were at the Chipping Camden Festival.

On Thursday April 7th  Diana Athill talked at a Lunch about her collection of short stories Midsummer Night in the Workhouse.

On March 8th the very rare film of Little Boy Lost was shown at the BFI, 21 Stephen Street. 

On January 26th Dr Merryn Williams, biographer of Mrs Oliphant, spoke at a Lunch about her Preface to The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow.

Events in 2010

On December 14th and 15th there was Open House  at the shop. Ancient Industries was  there (they sell traditional household goods, finding useful objects in Europe, the US and UK which have been in production for many years but are now curiously difficult to buy. Their goods are both classic and modern, rather like Persephone Books in fact, hence the synergy). And Jane Brocket of yarnstorm was also there – with homemade cakes, her stitching, and copies of her quilting book for sale.

The Sixth Persephone Lecture was given by David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain and Family Britain, at the Art Workers Guild on 24th November. The previous lecturers were Salley Vickers, Hermione Lee, Penelope Lively, Elaine Showalter and Bee Wilson. (The Fortnightly Letter for 30th November features the lecture.))

On October 18th Sam West spoke eloquently and passionately at a Lunch in the shop celebrating a hundred years to the day since EM Forster’s Howards End was published.

On September 23rd there was a showing of the film of Still MissingWithout a Trace, starring Kate Nelligan, for which Beth Gutcheon wrote the script. This was at the British FiIm Institute 21 Stephen Street W1 at 2.30, with tea and a discussion afterwards. 

On July 13th Hilary Spurling talked at a Lunch about her new biography of Pearl Buck, someone who could so easily be a Persephone author… 

On July 7th there was a very rare showing of the 1928 silent film of The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy and Basil Dean.

On June 18th there was both a Lunch and a Tea in Edinburgh, in honour of DE Stevenson and Miss Buncle’s Book. They were at Annabelle’s 27 Sciennes Road.  Fiona Bevan, who works in the LCS shop, talked about her great-grandmother. (This event was prompted by the visit to Britain of a group of DES fans.)

 On June 17th Beth Gutcheon, who wrote Still Missing as well as several other very successful novels, was over from New York to talk at a Lunch about Still Missing.

On May 20th Vanessa Hannam, whose most recent book is Rose in Winter, talked about writing historical fiction, and was in conversation with the bestselling contemporary novelist Elizabeth Buchan about the way they both write.

On March 11th we showed two films at the BFI: a film by Hilda Bernstein’s daughter Toni Strasburg called ‘Memories of Dreams’ about Hilda Bernstein’s life; and a Channel 4 dramatised documentary about Tilli Wolf- Monckeburg, author of On the Other Side: Letters to my Children from Germany.

On February 24th Juliet Gardiner, who has written the Preface to To Bed with Grand Music, talked at a Lunch. 

On January 21st Jane Brocket, who wrote the Preface to High Wages, talked at a Lunch.

Events in 2009

The four speakers to date at the annual Persephone Lecture have been Salley Vickers, Hermione Lee, Penelope Lively and Elaine Showalter. The fifth Lecture, on 1 December, was From Mrs Rundell to Mrs Beeton by Bee Wilson; again it was at the Artworkers Guild in Queen Square WC1.

The first Persephone event of the autumn was  a Lunch on 12 November when Janet Morgan, who has written the preface to A New System of Domestic Cookery by Mrs Rundelll,  talked about the book and in particular its publishing history. l

On 8 October a dramatisation of Lettice Delmer, Persephone book No.36, was  read by a group of actors assembled by Anne Harvey.

On 15 September we showed the film of Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont at the BFI. This was made in 2005 but has not been on general release in this country.

On  2 July  Rachel Billington talked at a Lunch about her aunt (by marriage) Christine Longford and the latter’s novel Making Conversation, Persephone Book No.83. She also talked about her own most recent novel Lies and Loyalties

It is our Tenth Birthday this year – the first books were published in March 1999 – but, like the Queen, we celebrated our birthday in June. During the course of the day (June 18th) around 150 people came to the shop in Lamb’s Conduit Street and had coffee (and homemade scones), lunch (Tutti’s salads), tea (cakes with grey icing) and canapés, as well as prosecco and a very special birthday offer on the books.

On 10 June Jenny Hartley talked about her book Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women. Claire Tomalin wrote about it in the Guardian: ‘Vivid, intelligent and enthralling, Jenny Hartley’s brilliant book is about Dickens setting up in Shepherd’s Bush a house in which girls from the streets, the prisons and the workhouses might be changed through kindness and discipline, and so prepared for new lives in the colonies.’

On 20 May we showed the film of They Were Sisters at the British Film Institute.

On 12 March the writer John O’Connell was in discussion with Nicola Beauman at a Lunch on ‘Women’s Fiction: Interior or Inferior?’ (The subject was prompted by his comment about our books in Time Out, when interior became inferior because of a typo. And yet at first we were not quite sure it was a typo…)

On 19 February there was a Lunch to celebrate Miss Buncle’s Book at which scenes from a play based on the book were read by, among others, Anne Harvey and DE Stevenson’s daugher and granddaughter.

On 11 February there was a showing at the BFI of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in aid of CRUSE.

On 21 January there was a repeat showing at the BFI of The Pumpkin Eater with a script by Harold Pinter, based on the novel by Penelope Mortimer.

Events in 2008

On Thursday 4 December from 3.30-5.30 there was a Tea (cucumber sandwiches, cake and meringues) at Annabel’s, 27 Sciennes Road, Edinburgh 9. The last (hugely sucessful) tea we held there was to celebrate House-Bound, this one celebrated Miss Buncle’s Book, whose author, DE Stevenson, lived not far away at Moffat.  The crime writer Aline Templeton, who suggested that we reprint the book and wrote the Preface, gave a short talk; DE Stevenson’s daughter, son and two of her grandchildren were present at the Tea.

On Tuesday 2 December Tim Dowling of the Guardian talked at a Lunch about ‘The Provincial Lady to Notting Hill Man: The Columnist’s Life.’ Tim is married to Sophie de Brant, who runs the new Persephone Bookshop (at 109 Kensington Church Street); she was also at the lunch.

On Tuesday 25 November there was another showing at the BFI 21 Stephen Street W1 of the 1924 film of The Home-Maker (this time Kevin Brownlow kindly lent his better-quality copy).

The Fourth Persephone Lecture was on Tuesday November 18th, again at the Art Workers Guild in Queen Square at 6.30. Professor Elaine Showalter talked about  ‘The Home-maker and the Home-Wrecker: Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Susan Glaspell, and 20th Century American Women Writers’.  Her new book about American women writers will be published in 2009.

The first Persephone event this autumn was a Lunch on Wednesday 12 November in the Lamb’s Conduit Street shop: Polly Toynbee of the Guardian talked about Round about a Pound a Week by Maud Pember Reeves, for which she has written the Preface.

On Thursday July 3rd Professor Marion Shaw spoke at a Lunch in the shop about Winifred Holtby, who lived round the corner from our Lamb’s Conduit Street shop and wrote The Crowded Street.

OnWednesday June 18th  there was a Cream Tea at Adamczewski’s Fine Houseware shop in Lewes which has ‘traditional, stylish utillity essentials’ (Country Living) and stocks our books. It was a fun way of celebrating the shop and Persephone and an opportunity to spend time in Lewes.

On Thursday June 12th we held a screening of the rarely-seen film of Penelope Mortimer’s The Pumpkin Eater  (the screenplay is by Harold Pinter) at the British Film Institute on Stephen Street. Valerie Grove introduced the film, lunch was served beforehand and tea and cake afterwards.

On Wednesday June 4th there was a Cream Tea at Roppelegh’s, Mollie Panter-Downes’s former house near Haslemere, by kind permission of the Persephone reader who now lives there.  This was to celebrate the publication of Good Evening, Mrs Craven as a Persephone Classic.  Anne Harvey read a story; and we walked through the woods to Mollie’s writing hut.

On Thursday May 15th Valerie Grove spoke at a Lunch in the shop about Penelope Mortimer, as well of course about John Mortimer, who is the subject of her recent book.

On Saturday May 3rd there was a Cream Tea in Georgetown, Washington DC: a long-standing Persephone reader kindly lent her house for a celebration of the new Classic edition of Good Evening, Mrs Craven.

On Wednesday March 26th Christina Hardyment talked at a Lunch about her newly-reissued book Dream Babies: Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford; she drew upon old favourites such as The Home-Maker and Hostages to Fortune.

On Thursday February 28th our lunchtime speaker focused on some of our WWII books. Juliet Gardiner, who has written extensively about the period and was historical advisor on the film of Atonement, talked about the film (in which a Persephone book can be seen right at the end) and about titles such as Few Eggs and No Oranges, Saplings and A House in the Country.

On Thursday January 24th 2008 there was another showing of the 1924 silent film of The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher at the British Film Institute 21 Stephen Street W1. Lunch was served at 1pm, the film was shown at 2 and lasted for about 75 minutes and then tea was served. This was a unique and extraordinary film which was made available to us through the kindness of Kevin Brownlow.

Events in 2007

In December Jane Brocket, author of The Gentle Art of Domesticity, talked at a Lunch about the domestic arts (knitting, crocheting, baking, quilting, a great deal of reading) as practised by her. Jane’s Persephone cup-cakes were served.

On November 15th we celebrated On the Other Side by Mathilde (‘Tilli’) Wolff- Mönckeberg; Jessica Atkinson talked about her great-grandmother’s life and Chris Beauman, who wrote the Afterword, set the book in its wartime context.

On November 20th Penelope Lively gave  the Third Persephone Lecture on ‘House and Home in Fiction’  at the Art Workers Guild 6 Queen Square WC1.

On Thursday October 4th there was a showing at the British Film Institute 21
Stephen Street W1 of two WW2 films, Went the Day Well? (1942) and Diary for Timothy (1946). There was a talk beforehand setting the films in the context of wartime Persephone books such as Few Eggs and No Oranges, Saplings, A House in the Country and Miss Ranskill Comes Home.

On Thursday September 20th the potter and tile-maker Annabel Munn, who makes the beautiful Persephone mugs, sugar bowls and vases that are sold exclusively in our shop in Lamb’s Conduit Street, gave a talk about her work at a Lunch in the shop. Annabel demonstrated how she makes these by showing us how she rolls out
the clay and decorates it.

In July, we held a Tea in Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire to celebrate Marghanita Laski and in particular her novel The Village. By kind permission of the owners of the house where she lived during the war, and which is the setting for the novel, we were able to see inside the house, walk round the lovely garden, have tea in the adjacent barn, and listen to a talk by Nicola Beauman and Juliet Gardiner about the book and its author. The owner of the house also gave a short talk and many enjoyed a tour round the village by a local historian.

At the end of June the writer Ali Smith, who has recently been writing about Katherine Mansfield, gave a talk about The Montana Stories and the Journal at a Lunch in the shop.

In June we celebrated Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Shuttle with a Tea at Great Maytham Hall near Rolvenden in Kent, where she was inspired to write the book. Nicola Beauman, and Anna Sebba who wrote the preface to The Shuttle, gave talks and everyone had a chance to walk round the garden which featured in The Shuttle, The Secret Garden and The Making of a Marchioness.

Also in June we held a Tea at Helmsley Walled Gardens in Helmsley, North Yorkshire where after a lovely cream tea, we were able to stroll round the beautiful C18th walled garden and admire the 52 types of Yorkshire apples, 34 Victorian vines and over 250 varieties of clematis.

In May we celebrated the publication of Winifred Peck’s House-Bound with a Tea at Annabelle’s in Edinburgh.

In April Virginia McKenna, Anne Harvey and Patricia Brake gave a performance of ‘Secret Gardens’: a Celebration of Women Gardeners, a programme devised partly to celebrate Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart.

Also in April there was a Persephone Tea in New York City.

In March, Frances Bernstein spoke at a Persephone Lunch to commemorate her mother, Hilda Bernstein.

In January the film of They Were Sisters was shown at the British Film Institute.

Events in 2006

In December Pamela Norris talked about ‘Mr Knightley, Mr Rochester and Miss Pettigrew’s Joe: Women Writers and the Romantic Hero.’

In December and November, Persephone Teas took place at the All Saints Centre, Weston near Bath and at West Stoke Village Hall near Chichester respectively.

In November the film of They Knew Mr Knight was shown at the British Film Institute.

Also in November Hermione Lee, author of Virginia Woolf, gave the second Annual Persephone Lecture at the Art Workers Guild called ‘Edith Wharton: Work in Progress’.

In October Eleanor Bron talked about ‘Reading’.

Also in October Penelope Lively and Nicola were at the Cheltenham Literary Festival where they each spoke about their favourite Persephone books and answered questions from the audience.

In September Anne Sebba talked about ‘American Heiress weds English Aristocrat: Henry James, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Shuttle and Jennie Churchill’.

Also in September Emily went to Ottakar’s Bookshop in Godalming, Surrey to talk about our books.

In March there was a celebration of Joanna Cannan’s Princes in the Land in Oxford, where it is set.

In April the film adaptation of The Blank Wall, ‘The Reckless Moment’, was shown at The British Film Institute.

Events in 2005

In November Christina Hardyment talked about How To Run Your Home Without Help, for which she has written the Preface.

In October Salley Vickers gave a Persephone Lecture at the Art Workers Guild called ‘Miss Ranskill, Miss Garnet and Miss Pettigrew‘.

In September we held the third Persephone Readers Weekend at Newnham College, Cambridge. The speakers were Julia Briggs, Amanda Craig, Elizabeth Crawford, Sue Gee, Val Hennessy, Eva Ibbotson, Jessica Mann and Jan Marsh.

In June we held the first Possibly Persephone? event at the shop. Readers were invited to bring a book which they particularly recommend as a potential Persephone book.

Also in June, by kind permission of the owners, there was a Persephone Lunch at Roppelegh’s, the beautiful C16th house near Haslemere where Mollie Panter-Downes lived and worked. We were shown over the house, and walked to the writing hut in the woods where Mollie did all her work.

In May we showed the film of They Were Sisters, sixty years to the day since its premiere in 1945. There was also a Persephone Book Group to discuss Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson, Persephone Book No. 58.

In April Benjamin Whitrow and Anne Harvey read from Trudy Bliss’s editions of the letters of Thomas Carlyle and Jane Carlyle to celebrate Thea Holme’s The Carlyles at Home, Persephone Book No. 32.

In February we held a Persephone Book Group at which we discussed Dorothy Whipple’s They Were Sisters; the author of the new Persephone Preface, Celia Brayfield, spoke.

Events in 2004

In December we held a lunch to celebrate the publication of Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary. There were four speakers: Ruby Ferguson’s step-granddaughter Sarah; Philip Glassborow, who told us about the book; Alison Haymonds, who researched an article about Ruby Ferguson and provided the biographical detail; and the novelist and short-story writer Candia McWilliam who has written the new Persephone Preface.

In November Juliet Gardiner talked about The Village, for which she wrote the Preface.

In October there was a lunch in celebration of Hilda Bernstein’s The World that was Ours. The speakers were Chris Beauman, Francie Jowell, Anne Sebba and Frances Bernstein.

In July the Persephone Book Group discussed Bricks and Mortar.

In June Gretchen Gerzina, who wrote the afterword for The Making of a Marchioness and has written a new biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett, gave a talk about her.

At the May Lunch Cary Bazalgette talked about her mother Margaret Bonham: her work and life, and in particular the short stories collected in The Casino.

In April we showed the 1924 silent film of Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home-Maker at the British Film Institute in Stephen Street W1. This extraordinary piece of film history, never previously shown in the UK, was obtained by Kevin Brownlow, to whom very many thanks.

In March Ysenda Maxtone Graham, author of the biography of her grandmother Jan Struther, talked about her and Mrs Miniver – whose ‘three new library books lay virginally on the fender-stool, their bright paper wrappers unsullied by subscriber’s hand.’

In Februrary Valerie Grove, who writes for The Times, talked about ‘Reading and Writing’.

The January lunch gave Dorothy Whipple fans a chance to see the film of They Were Sisters, the fourth title by her we plan to publish (in 2005).

Events in 2003

In December we held a Persephone Book Group and discussed Miss Ranskill comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd.

In November Kay Dunbar talked about The Pleasures and Pains of running Literary Festivals.

In July we had a private viewing of Max Ophuls’s The Reckless Moment (the first film to have been made of The Blank Wall) at the British Film Institute.

In June Nicola Beauman gave a talk called ‘How do we find our books?’

May saw a lunch to celebrate Persephone’s new translation of the German novel Manja by Anna Gmeyner. Eva Ibbotson, the writer’s daughter, talked about her mother’s life.

In April we revisited 24 Cheyne Row (Carlyle’s house in Chelsea) for an evening tour, madeira and seedcake and a talk by Jan Marsh in Thomas Carlyle’s attic study.

In March we celebrated the publication of our third Dorothy Whipple novel, The Priory, with a discussion between the three Dorothy Whipple preface writers Nina Bawden, Terence Handley Macmath and David Conville.

In February we showed the film of They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple.

The January lunch, called ‘The Turn of the Tide’, marked sixty years since El Alamein and the publication of the Beveridge Report: Chris Beauman talked about how A House in the Country, written in 1942-3, anticipates post-war moral and social changes in Britain.

Events in 2002

In November Anne Harvey talked about Elizabeth Anna Hart, the author of our Christmas book The Runaway, and the actress Patricia Brake read from it.

In September we had the first Persephone event not in our office: by kind permission of the Custodian it was at Carlyle’s House in Chelsea. Kathryn Hughes, who is working on a major new biography of Mrs Beeton, talked about The Carlyles at Home and Jane and Thomas Carlyle’s life in the house.

In May Charlie Lee-Potter of BBC Radio 4 talked about her favourite Persephone books, and was very interesting about the merits or otherwise of reprinting a writer’s early works after their death and without their consent.

In April Maureen Lipman read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day on BBC Radio 4 and at the Persephone Lunch on 23 April she talked about that and her other favourite Persephone books.

In March Angela Huth talked about Persephone books, WWII and her own Land Girls.

In February Pamela Norris talked about Romantic Love (the subject of her next book) and Fidelity.

In January Tracy Chevalier nobly filled in for Susan Hill, who was unwell. She began by mentioning that she had just read The Home-Maker and enjoyed it enormously, and expressed the hope that in years to come her Girl with a Pearl Earring might also be a Persephone book (we would like that too!) She observed that The Victorian Chaise-longue is a horror story, or psychological science fiction, that explores the two big issues, sex and death. Whereas Girl is a historical novel, and she had tried to steep herself and her readers in the period in which it is set, Marghanita Laski steps in to a particular period and makes you want to get out as quickly as possible.

Events in 2001

At our Christmas lunch we showed the 1943 film of They Knew Mr Knight.

In November Ann Thwaite, who has written a biography of Frances Hodgson Burnett, talked about the author with special reference to The Making of a Marchioness.

In October we had a Persephone lunch at which Jacqueline Wilson, who wrote the preface, talked about The Children who lived in a Barn. She said that it is a ‘crossover’ book (read by both children and adults) but is unusual in not being fantasy, and that it ‘was heavily influential on me in many ways that I had not realised.’ She suggested that the book still has such power because the children are left on their own – them against the world – and that the barn represents every child’s fantasy of the den.

In October there was a Lunch celebrating Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day with a dramatised reading by the actress Patricia Brake and a talk by Henrietta Twycross-Martin who rediscovered the book for us.

At the Persephone Lunch on 3 July the distinguished biographer Lyndall Gordon talked about Katherine Mansfield.

The first two Persephone Teas were extremely memorable. Paul Binding and Penelope Hands spoke for a few minutes with wit and insight about, respectively, Fidelity and Someone at a Distance, before initiating an excellent discussion about each book.

Events in 2000

In November Nicola Beauman spoke about E.M. Delafield. This event was repeated on 6 December.

In September the discussion was about Noel Streatfeild’s Saplings and her nephew Rowley Atterbury spoke.

In October Anne Harvey and Simon Brett discussed Harry and Virginia, about Harry and Virginia Graham, to celebrate the publication of the latter’s poems Consider the Years 1938-46.

In June Janet Floyd, cultural historian and co-editor of Domestic Space, talked about Good Things in England.

In May Elizabeth Berridge talked about Tell It to a Stranger, her stories of the 1940s.

At the February lunch Juliet Lacey read from Judith Viorst’s poems It’s Hard to be Hip over Thirty, and Other Tragedies of Married Life and Maggie Boepple, who has lived in New York since the mid ’60s and was the first New York City woman lobbyist, talked about the realities and unrealities of New York life at the time the poems were being written.

In January Jenny Hartley spoke about Few Eggs and No Oranges and Second World War literature by women.

Events in 1999

In November Penelope Lively talked about her own work and The Victorian Chaise-longue.

At our first lunch in the summer of 1999 Nina Bawden spoke about Someone at a Distance.

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