102. Elizabeth Taylor - The Soul of Kindness


Here Andy and John are joined by two returning guests: Carmen Callil and Rachel Cooke. Carmen is the legendary publisher and writer, who is best known for founding the Virago Press in 1972.  After changing a generation’s taste through her publishing at Virago, and in particular the Virago Modern Classics, which continues to bring back into print hundreds of neglected women writers, Carmen went on to run Chatto & Windus and became a global Editor-at-Large for Random House. In 2006 she published Bad Faith: A History of Family & Fatherland, which Hilary Spurling called ‘a work of phenomenally thorough, generous and humane scholarship’. Appointed DBE in 2017, she was also awarded the Benson medal in the same year, awarded to mark ‘meritorious works in poetry, fiction, history and belles-lettres’. She last joined us in 2018 to discuss Elizabeth Jenkins’ The Tortoise and the Hare.

Rachel is one of the UK’s most celebrated journalists, trained at the Sunday Times, and a regular contributor now at the Observer and the New Statesman, where she is TV critic. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year and her latest book is Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties, published by Virago in 2013. Rachel joined us on the eleventh Backlisted to discuss All the Devils Are Here by David Seabrook. Her advocacy (on Backlisted and elsewhere) helped get the book back into print through Granta, where it is now one of their bestselling backlist titles.

The book that Rachel and Carmen are discussing is The Soul of Kindness, the ninth novel by Elizabeth Taylor, first published by Chatto & Windus in 1964, and reissued by Carmen in 1974 and published as a Virago Modern Classics in 1983.

This episode also includes Andy finding his way into Richard King’s musical odyssey, The Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape, (Faber) and John enjoys diving into the past with Kathleen Jamie’s exquisite Surfacing (Sort Of Books).

Books mentioned:

Elizabeth Taylor - The Soul of Kindness; Angel; A Game of Hide and Seek; In A Summer Season; Complete Short Stories
Richard King - The Lark Ascending
Kathleen Jamie - Surfacing
Rachel Cooke - Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties
Carmen Callil - Bad Faith: A History of Family & Fatherland
Barry Lopez - Arctic Dreams
David Seabrook - All the Devils Are Here
Nicola Beauman - The Other Elizabeth Taylor
Jane Gardam - Old Filth
Shena McKay - The Orchard on Fire
Tessa Hadley - Late in the Day

Other links:

Tickets for the Backlisted Christmas Evening at the London Library
Ralph Vaughan Williams - ‘The Lark Ascending’
The Stan Tracey Quartet -Under Milk Wood: Jazz Suite
John Cameron - Kes Soundtrack
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Robert Wyatt - ‘Happy Land’
Elizabeth Taylor on Mastermind
Tales of the Unexpected - ‘The Flypaper’