Between the Covers 9/03/2013
Your guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Saturday 09 March 2013
Once again, Mslexia – the magazine for women who write – has come up with some fascinating research based on its reader polls. In one survey, published in the forthcoming issue, 54 per cent of respondents said that taking anti-depressants had affected their writing, with the majority of those reporting a negative effect. In a different survey, 38 per cent of women "thought their writing skills fluctuated according to their menstrual cycle", with most of those claiming that they were "most creative, organised and productive in the middle two weeks". These are self-reporting groups, based on women's own experiences, and not formal experiments, of course, but the results are interesting. According to Mslexia's editor, Debbie Taylor, many women writers fear that creativity will drop off when they reach the menopause, but there was no evidence for this. In March's Mslexia, the psychologist Faridah Newman analyses the complex relationship between mental health, medication, and creativity, and both surveys are reported in full. Not all writers agree with their findings, however. The novelist Kathy Lette told The IoS: "What affects my writing, much more than my hormones, is whether or not my husband has helped me with the housework. If he hasn't, then the men in my book tend to find their testicles used as maracas."
There's a good example of joined-up thinking at the British Council, which announced its 2013 arts programme last week. Not only is its literature department joining with the magazine Granta to support the latter's fourth, 10-yearly selection of "Best of Young British Novelists" in April; its design department has also commissioned a bookcase from the UK-based design studio Raw-Edges to showcase Granta's 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013 lists. This year's novelists to watch will be announced on Radio 4's Front Row programme on 15 April, and a book containing a new story by each of the writers, Granta 123, will be published by Granta on 16 April (£12.99).
Also on the British Council's programme of events are the upcoming anniversaries of Dylan Thomas and Benjamin Britten, who was himself a fan of the Council, it turns out. Britten named the Lady Billows character in his chamber opera Albert Herring after their man in Switzerland, with whom he had corresponded about a possible tour of his Rape of Lucretia. Lionel Billows recalled, in a report in August 1947: "One of the numerous private jokes in Albert Herring intended for his [Britten's] friends to enjoy quietly among the general laughter was his taking from me, his host in Switzerland, my good name and giving it to the central female character, an elderly, benevolent local tyrant who gives a large cash prize for virtue. I haven't seen the opera yet, but the first act was played through for the first time on my piano, with the unexpected result that my neighbours, who live in the flat underneath, gave notice to the landlord the next day .…" He later wrote: "We could never get Ben to say what he had in mind in choosing the name, whether he saw June [Billows's first wife] as a masterful harridan, or whether I was somehow seen in some sort of aspect of the character …." Their correspondence is printed in volume three of Britten's collected letters, Letters from a Life.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 2 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
- 5 This crazy skiing video will leave you feeling queasy
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Downton Abbey season 5 episode 6 - review: Thomas and Lady Edith show sad signs of the times
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally