She recited poems to me that she'd learned at school before leaving at 14 to help tend to soldiers returning wounded from the First World War, and recounted the Greek myths that, as an autodidact, she'd later immersed herself in.
I write because I found out early that it was very, very good fun: there was licence and liberty in it. I could make something real and true just by thinking it up,
Annette Kobak speaks with Carole Angier about her biography of Isabelle Eberhardt, her memoir of her father and his wartime experiences, and the important role of parallel travels in the structure of her books.
As a travel writer, Horatio Clare’s professional scepticism has been challenged by glimpses of what he calls ‘inexplicable truths’. A man in Mozambique who saw a mermaid, a Congolese witch who vouchsafed him protection from Ebola, a nightjar churring on a hillside in Wales — these, Clare argues, are ‘signs, wonders and mysteries’.
Travelling for biographical research can lead to all kinds of dead ends. But in her latest visit to South Africa, for a book on Doyle and Kipling’s role in the Anglo-Boer war, Sarah LeFanu found fresh inspiration – and a fresh connection with the long-departed dead – in a small, half-forgotten graveyard.