Sunday, 10 March 2013

Bath Lit Festival

Yesterday I went to the Independent Bath Literature Festival and had a whale of a time being all literary and feminist and generally just really cool. Pat Barker (babe) is one of my favourite novelists because she pretty much shares my fascination for the First World War and is able to put it into words REALLY WELL. She was meant to be doing a talk about her latest novel, Toby's Room, but it was cancelled (there was sobbing and much general distress when I got the phone call). I'd got my Mother and I tickets for the talk for Mother's Day so that pretty much fell flat. Anyway, the organisers sorted out a replacement in the form of Di Atkinson so we graciously went along to that one instead. And really enjoyed it.

Di Atkinson has written a non-fiction book called Elsie and Mairi Go to War which is all about these two biker chicks who went off to Belgium, right on the Western Front, and nursed injured soldiers throughout the war in the basement of a bombed out building. Brave women, right? Anyway, they won loads of awards and were generally adored by the public. But then they fell off the face of the earth at the end of the war. As women tended to do in those times, sadly. Their story is extraordinary and quite frankly, one of the most impressive examples of the female war effort I've come across (baring in mind that I do know what I'm talking about and I'm not just talking bollocks). Obviously I swiftly left the talk, purchased the book, got it signed by Di, stuttered, glowed red and ran off. You know, as standard. But the point is, I would really recommend this book (even though I've not even read it yet) to anyone who has an interest in women's history and the First World War. They are two women I would definitely invite for tea.

Mum enjoyed it too, by the way.

I thought I'd make the most of being in the literary environment, kidding myself that I'm an intellectual (I do have a masters after all), and go to another talk. Di Atkinson happened to being doing two talks yesterday, the other being The Suffragette and the Jockey (points for anyone who know what that refers to). I'm a bit of a suffrage nerd having spent so long with the WSPU ladies when I wrote my dissertation. I like to think we were close. I went off to the talk and left feeling like I had suddenly gained ALL THE KNOWLEDGE. I actually feel ten times smarter than I did yesterday.

The talk was about Emily Wilding Davison, the suffragette who jumped in front of the king's horse in 1913 and died four days later from her injuries. I personally think she was pretty much off her rocker but Di Atkinson really seemed to almost admire her. Unusually so, as the general consensus is that she was not the sanest suffragette around. Atkinson argues that she intended to commit suicide (again, not the general consensus) and she really did bring a strong case for it. This talk made me fall in love with the women's movement all over again. I was so fed up of suffragettes and suffragists and anti's by the time I'd finished my dissertation and until yesterday I hadn't even considered them. Hopefully now my passion is back, along with new found knowledge, and I can get back to reading about them for simple enjoyment. We'll see, though. Christabel may just piss me off all over again. Her and her amazing cheekbones.

Both talks were brill and I'm really glad I went to them even though I still would have preferred to see Pat B. Next on my radar is the Hay Festival...maybe I'll finally get there this year. 

Obviously I bought the would hardly expect anything else now would you?

And check out this amazing building. I've been to Bath a fair amount but never even noticed it before. If that's not a reason to look up I don't know what is.

I love Bath. It's so Austeny and literary.


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