Apologies for cribbing the contents of this post but my right hand is in a splint and typing is tricky.
We have just enjoyed the Small Wonder Festival at Charleston, so-called because it is dedicated to short prose and fiction.
This year, the sixth recipient of the only award to recognise long-standing creativity and achievement in the short story genre, the Charleston-Bede Award, is Dame Antonia Byatt. AS Byatt is internationally renowned for her novels, including Possession and The Children’s Book, as well as her short story collections: Sugar & Other Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, The Little Black Book of Stories and The Matisse Stories. Her many awards include the Booker Prize and the Erasmus Prize and her writing is translated into thirty languages. She is also a distinguished critic and essayist. The event was chaired by Alison MacLeod, Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester, short story writer and novelist who delivered an appreciation of AS Byatt’s work.
AS Byatt was only able to give a short acceptance for her award but it was a treat to listen to Alison MacLeod whose talk was comprehnsive and lively. Alison, a Professor of Modern Literature, taught me on the short story module of my MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University.
The 100th anniversary of the birth of Muriel Spark has triggered renewed interest in her work.
Best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark was a prolific writer of short stories, novellas, poetry, essays and biographies. The literary editor and critic Alan Taylor was Spark’s confidant and travel companion in her later years. His affectionate but searching memoir Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark received wide acclaim. He was in conversation with Nicolette Jones, writer, critic and broadcaster. Discussing his unique insights into Muriel’s colourful life, acerbic personality and astringent writing, including her short stories, Alan Taylor was a delight to listen to.
I intended to list all her works here but there are so many of them, I can only recommend one of the many websites about Muriel and her work. They also have photos of her.
My favourite novel of hers is Memento Mori, mainly, I should say because of the excellent BBC film of that story. The only novel I have of hers on my bookshelves at home is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Her other works are, appropriately enough, in Italy.
With acknowledgements to the 2018 Charleston Small Wonder brochure and website.