News archive 2009
Booker prize winning novelist at King’s18 Dec 2009, PR 274/09
The Centre for Life-writing Research hosted a discussion about autobiography and fiction between two of Britain’s most distinguished novelists, Hilary Mantel and Fay Weldon, last night on the Strand Campus.
Hilary Mantel has recently won the 2009 Booker Prize for her novel Wolf Hall and is the author of a poetic and strange autobiography, Giving Up the Ghost (2003). Fay Weldon has followed her 2002 autobiography Auto Da Fay with a series of brilliantly misleading autobiographical novels.
The two came together as part of the high-profile series of Dissecting the Self discussions, which are taking place in the appropriate setting of the newly-refurbished Anatomy Theatre. The conversation was chaired by The Observer's Associate editor Robert McCrum, who is also the author of his own memoir, My Year Off (1998).
The discussion kicked off with Hilary Mantel reading an extract from Giving Up the Ghost, and Fay Weldon reading from her recent autobiographical novel, Chalcot Crescent (2009). Robert McCrum then asked the speakers a range of questions addressing the relationship between autobiography and fiction including the ways in which memoir relates to posterity, how their sense of self is influenced by the supernatural and what role psychoanalysis plays in their work.
'Bringing together academic life-writers with autobiographers’
Afterwards, drinks and mince pies were served in the Anatomy Museum, once home to the displayed results of medical dissections. Visitors and students had a chance to talk to the speakers, who were also signing books, Dr Lara Feigel, Lecturer in English, who is organising the discussions, comments: 'The series as a whole is really exciting for King's students, who have a chance to meet some of the writers they are studying. It’s also a great way to bring together academic life-writers with autobiographers.’
Susie Christensen, an MA student at the College, was particularly pleased to meet Hilary Mantel, who she has studied as part of the Literature and Medicine Illness Narratives MA course. Susie says: ‘Having studied 'Giving up the Ghost' as part of my MA it was fantastic to hear Mantel speak about it in person. Her thoughtful comments greatly illuminated my study of the book’.
This is the second in the Dissecting the Self series, and speakers next term include Michael Bracewell, Michael Frayn, Andrew Kotting, Michael Kopelman and Stephen Romer. For more information see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/hrc/life/dissecting/
[Image by Marcel Feigel]
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
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