Fri, 16 September 2011
Freya Stark was a great woman traveller and explorer of the Middle East before the Second World War. During the war she worked in Intelligence and propaganda for the British in Cairo. After the war she settled into old age as a grand old lady of exploration, and became a national treasure. But many things had been left out of her own accounts of what she had done, and she left of a lot of bad feeling behind her triumphant exploits in the Middle East. Molly Izzard's biography of Freya Stark digs into her past, and shows us a better and not entirely nicer picture of this remarkable British traveller, that also asks what biography is for, and what we want to remember. For rule-breakers and iconoclasts.
Mon, 5 September 2011
Imagine you're a poor and struggling scriptwriter working in an unheated New York brownstone in the 1940s. You long for the English books you can't get in the New York bookstores, and you start to write to a London antiquarian bookshop. A correspondence develops that shapes your understanding of what it's like to live in England after the war. Years later, you put these letters into a book, it becomes a best-seller, and suddenly everyone wants to know about your life, the life you thought was going to be in the theatre, but which ends up being perfect for a modern novel of letters: Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road. For listeners who are always the last to leave a bookshop when it's closing.
Direct download: Helene_Hanff_and_84_Charing_Cross_Road.mp3
Category:memoir -- posted at: 10:57am CET
Mon, 22 August 2011
This podcast takes us into the wards in wartime, stomping about with a bucket for hours and hours, barely conscious that the bombs are falling because it's another night shift in the maternity ward. Monica Dickens was the great-grand-daughter of the much more famous Charles, and worked as a nurse during the Second World War. One Pair of Feet is about her year on duty encased in starched uniforms. She is also one of English literature's funniest memoirists: do listen to this if you want to hear about wet bicycles, lost lemon tarts, ripped stockings and making endless little meals for horrible patients.