80. Elizabeth Jenkins - The Tortoise and the Hare

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Joining Andy and John in this episode is Carmen Callil, the legendary publisher and writer, who is best know for founding the Virago Press in 1972. Once described by the Guardian as ‘part-Lebanese, part-Irish and wholly Australian’, Carmen settled in London in 1964 advertising herself in The Times as ‘Australian, B.A. wants job in book publishing’. 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’. The book under discussion is one of her favourite novels, The Tortoise & the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins, first published by Gollancz in 1954 and triumphantly reissued by Virago Modern Classics in 1983.

Also in this episode we explore the new audio version of one our favourite writer’s best novels - The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson, famously published in a box containing 27 randomly ordered sections in 1969.

And last but very much not least: this episode also features our very first canine guest - Effie, Carmen’s extremely well-behaved border terrier.

Books mentioned:

B.S. Johnson - The Unfortunates; Christy Malry’s Own Double Entry
Jonathan Coe - Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson
Elizabeth Jenkins - The Tortoise & the Hare; The View from Downshire Hill; Harriet; Doctor Gully; Jane Austen
Carmen Callil - Bad Faith: A History of Family & Fatherland
Antonia White - A Frost in May
May Sinclair - The Life & Death of Harriet Frean
Storm Jameson - Journey from the North
Rosamond Lehmann - The Weather in the Streets
Elizabeth Taylor - Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
Anita Brookner - A Start in Life

Other links:

The Second Shelf bookshop
Foyles Bookshop- South Bank Centre
The Unfortunates on Alexa
Elizabeth Jenkins - Obituary in the Daily Telegraph ( Sep 2010)