Artist Ben Rivers had a film cycle titled Ghost strata and other stories showing at Jeu de Paume (1 Pl. de la Concorde, 75008 Paris) between 14-26 November 2023. In conjunction with certain screenings, Rivers invited writers to respond to films. Marina responded to The Minotaur, screened on Saturday 25 November alongside another one of his films, The Smoke. Marina’s text will be published in a book with the pieces by other writers, which we shall share as soon as it is available.
25 November, The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger, ‘Filmmakers without Borders: The Call of Ecstasy’, 4.05-5pm (Study Day 12-5pm)
To tie in with our autumn exhibition and related publication The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger, join us for a day of fresh perspectives on Powell and Pressburger’s cinema, shining a spotlight not only on them, but also on their circle of talented collaborators. Hear from both leading researchers and contemporary creatives, including writer Marina Warner and production designer Sarah Greenwood, as we explore the vast range of practitioners who have found themselves haunted by Powell and Pressburger’s stories and images.
20 November, 3pm, ‘Life Writing, Memory and Fiction: A Conversation with Marina Warner and Sally Bayley’, University of Palermo
Stories in Transit workshop, Palermo 17-19 November – more details coming soon!
11 November, ‘In Conversation with Marina Warner (In Person)’, Yorkshire Festival of Storytelling, 7-8pm, Skipton Town Hall, High Street Skipton BD23 1AH, Book to attend in-person (£8/10) or to watch online here
Join Dame Marina Warner and Settle Stories director Sita Brand who share a passion for storytelling, fairy tales, myths, contemporary retelling and translations. They will explore how stories come from the past but speak to the present while considering Marina’s work that explores the interactions of imagination and reality in art and the effects that have on societies.
Marina’s imaginative re-visioning expands on ethical and political issues and facts to create a dialogue between them that is often dangerously dismissed, overlooked and misunderstood.
10 November, ‘A Living Almanac: Imagining, Orientating, Belonging (In Person)’, Yorkshire Festival of Storytelling, 3-5pm, The Joinery, Settle Stories, Market Place, Settle,North Yorkshire BD24 9ED, Book to participate here!
‘It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.’
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
An almanac is one of the oldest surviving forms of printed books. It’s a compilation or collocation of stuff, a kind of calendar, with knowledge and stories attached to every day. These narratives of the past have historically been factual, fantastical and fanciful while also building on experiences of the past to anticipate visions of the future to equip the reader with means to meet adversity – and forestall it. An almanac’s temporality is attached to now and the future.
In this workshop, you will work together to draft a new way of thinking and describing time, by creating your own almanac. “We have it in our power to begin the world over again”: this is what Tom Paine declared at another great turning point in history. Are we in a comparable moment now? Can we find a way to learn from shared experiences of danger, isolation, widespread precarity, rising hostilities, and other grave problems? Can we seize the moment to imagine different ways of living and flourishing, of working together and building a world in which freedom, justice, equality and creativity can flourish – can it breathe?
A Living Almanac, an expression of cooperative creativity in different media will record participants’ experience. You will be invited to bring anecdotes, proverbs, old wives’ tales, special commemorations, poems, songs, photographs, drawings, and other material to inspire the Living Almanac. You will also be reaching beyond what has occurred to what might happen and what could be brought about – fostered or prevented.
8 November – Prof Marina Warner in conversation with Dr Karolina Watroba (All Souls) about her book Inventory of A Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir (2021)
26 October, from 3.30pm, ‘The Nature of Mathematics: Is Mathematics a Story?’: An afternoon and evening to celebrate and showcase over 30 years of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, ICMS, Bayes Centre, Edinburgh (and online). More information here.
The Nature of Mathematics: Is Mathematics a Story? was a conversation is with Jeremy Butterfield, Graeme Segal, and Marina Warner. During the 2022 Marshall Lecture in Cambridge, economist Ariel Rubinstein asserted that `economics is a story’ in rather strong terms. One possible interpretation is that influential theorems of economics, for example, those arising in social choice theory or game theory, may not often yield quantitively precise explanations or predictions of economic phenomena, but do provide deep insight into the workings of people and society in the same manner as great literature. This conversation will interrogate the nature of mathematics and its relationship to the world of experience and measurement from a perspective informed by Rubinstein’s claim.
This event took place at ICMS, Bayes Centre and online with most of the audience joining online. Space at ICMS was limited because of an invited audience of special guests. You can register participation using this form.
After the event there was a concert premiering a piece by ICMS music fellow Julian Longchamp, performed by the Apostrophe Ensemble at the Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh. More information available through this Eventbrite link.
12 October, ‘Viral Spiral: Multiple Shape-shifting, from Ovid to Covid’, CCA Goldsmiths Lecture (Postponed from 19 January) – information here
Marina Warner will explore stories of multiple transformations in and out of different bodies, and reflect on their significance in relation to today’s concerns with fluid identities and interspecies contact and contagion. A group of metamorphoses in myths and legends features gods and in between creatures, who are not quite divine and not quite mortal either, who can change their shape multiple times. For example, Mestra, the daughter of Erisychthon, is given this gift by the gods when her father sells her, and she is able to elude the clients he panders her to.
This lecture was originally scheduled for 19 January 2023: if you had registered then (in person or online), your booking is still valid, and you do not need to register again; if you are unable to attend, or wish to change mode of attendance, it would help if you emailed us at CCL@gold.ac.uk – thank you.
If you are interested in this lecture may also be interested in the Centre for Comparative Literature‘s series Sing in me, Muse: The Classical, the Critical, and the Creative, a series of talks, workshops, readings, discussions on the social, political and cultural relevance of the classics to our times.
21 September, ‘Temporale’ – Event celebrating Marina Warner’s book Temporale, #39 in the Cahiers Series, 6.30pm, 6, rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris
The Center for Writers and Translators celebrated their most recent publication with Sylph Editions by Marina, Temporale, the 39th issue of the Cahiers series. Temporale addresses ‘What happened to time during the Coronavirus pandemic?’, as Marina recounts how strangely her days and weeks passed, in this highly personal account of a response to lockdown. She finds it takes her back to her Catholic convent schooling when the rhythm, stories, and pictures of the liturgical year helped puncture the day- by- day monotony of existence. She wonders if old ways of time-keeping may give clues as to how time passing can be made significant. Her text is partnered by photographs, largely taken during Covid lockdown, by Dimitris Kleanthis.
26 August, 5-6.30pm, “How does self-censorship work for a writer?”, with Réka Borda, Bianca Bellová, Ferenc Czinki and Marina Warner, European Alliance of Academies Conference, Homerton College, Cambridge
The European Alliance of Academies held a conference On Freedom of Artistic Expression in Literature in the 21st Century on 26-27 August 2023 at Homerton College, Cambridge. Marina took part in the first event of the conference, a public discussion alongside Réka Borda, Bianca Bellová and Ferenc Czinki, answering the question “How does self-censorship work for a writer?”. At a time of rising tension between the freedom of the artist and coun- ter voices across Britain and Europe, this panel discussed the extent to which writers are limited in their creative expression. What responsibilities writers must consider while being aware that freedom of expression is becoming an increasingly politicised activity at a time of increasing extremism. The discussion was moderated by Daljit Nagra.
To find out more about this session and discover the rest of the weekend programme, go to the European Alliance website here and read more extensive notes on contributors here. There is now also more of a write-up of the whole conference, available to look through here. Marina’s contribution, which she read out on the day, has been edited and uploaded online by the European Alliance and can be read here.
26 August 2023, ‘Archive on 4: The Holy Blood’, BBC R4; listen back here
Two decades ago Da Vinci Code mania gripped the world. But the story behind the theory that Jesus Christ had a secret bloodline is more surprising than any thriller. Step aside Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon – BBC Paris Correspondent Hugh Schofield heads to the South of France to uncover a forgotten milestone of broadcasting which helped set the template for the modern conspiracy theory. The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem was a 1972 episode of the BBC history series Chronicle. It sets out the unusual local mystery of Rennes-le-Château – and the charismatic parish priest who somehow funded a major church renovation. What treasure had he uncovered? Written by and featuring the actor-turned writer Henry Lincoln, the programme was a phenomenon. The idea that the church was decorated with symbols and clues hinting at the origin of the unexplained wealth gripped viewers and led to two follow-up programmes.
But Lincoln’s research for the programmes became the keystone of the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – popularising theories of Christ’s marriage which went stratospheric with the 2003 release of The Da Vinci Code. Intrepid Hugh reveals the forgotten global impact of the Chronicle series – speaking to The Damned drummer Rat Scabies who had a surprising ringside seat for much of the drama, and to Dame Marina Warner who was the star of a thrilling encounter with the three authors whose book was about to become a global best-seller. We hear how this forgotten series popularised a spurious new approach to historical research and facts – one that reverberates through conspiracy theories today.
25 July, ‘Travelling Tales: Kalīlah wa-Dimnah and the Animal Fable’ for Public Domain
Influencing numerous later animal tales told around the world, the 8th-century Arabic fables of Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ’s Kalīlah wa-Dimnah also inspired a rich visual tradition of illustration: jackals on trial, airborne turtles, and unlikely alliances between species. Marina Warner follows these stories as they wander and change across time and place, celebrating their sharp political observation and stimulating mix of humour, earnesty, and melancholy.
13 July, An Evening of Discovery and Illumination, Pigott Theatre (The Knowledge Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB), 7- 8.30pm. More information here!
Marina is the chair of the British Library Collections Trust, which held this celebratory event to showcases a variety of precious items, from writers’ archives to single manuscripts, rare books and even rarer personal letters, that have been acquired by the British Library over the last five years.
These exciting and often surprising items are introduced and explored by a panel of invited writers, scholars, musicians and Library curators. Each acquisition has been made possible largely through bequests to the British Library Collections Trust, which exists to promote the Library’s work across all the collection areas.
Chaired by Ferdinand Mount who in 2018 oversaw the transformation of the Friends of the British Library into the British Library Collections Trust, Doors and Bar open at 18:00.
10 July, Dandelions by Thea Lenarduzzi in conversation with Dame Marina Warner, Italian Institute, London (39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX), 6.30pm, more information available here
Thea Lenarduzzi belongs in two worlds and two languages, and in her unusual, wide-ranging and beautiful memoir Dandelions, she meditates on the divisions and the gifts of her doubled identity. The flower that gives her her title is an emblem of diaspora, as over four generations her family has commuted between Friuli and England (Manchester, Sheffield) in search of work, mainly in the past as terrazzieri. Dandelions is distinguished by the richness, tenderness, and sensitivity of the portraits it gives, especially of the author’s beloved Nonna, the cornerstone of the book and a fountainhead of stories, know-how, folklore, and history – though some of the latter is confused and perplexing.
Thea Lenarduzzi was in conversation with Marina Warner, who has written about her own Italian antecedents, (The Lost Father, Inventory of a Life Mislaid). They discussed many themes that Dandelions explores: migration, belonging, belief, the unswept corners of history, the intense vivid pleasures of daily existence, and the questions posed by writing memoirs, especially about the living.
19th June, ‘Out of This World: Dancing into Fairylands’, Frederick Ashton Lecture, The Wallace Collection/online, 7pm-8pm – more information here
Marina gave the Frederick Ashton Lecture this year, which took place at the Wallace Collection.
The Frederick Ashton Lecture Series was inaugurated by the Frederick Ashton Foundation in 2019 to both honour the memory of the choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton and advance public understanding and debate about the arts. Ashton’s understanding of the human condition, his knowledge of historic style and the influences of artists with whom he collaborated, fed his genius. He was inspired when creating his ballets not just by music and movement but by a range of interests, including the visual arts, architecture, design, literature and poetry, and thus the subject matter of each biannual lecture is selected from the arts in their widest sense.
Previous lectures, presented in association with the Wallace Collection, have been delivered by Sir Nicholas Hytner on ‘theatre’ and Lord Berkeley of Knighton (the composer and broadcaster Michael Berkeley) on ‘music’. Marina’s lecture focused on ‘literature’ and is titled: ‘Out of This World : Dancing into fairylands’.
14th June, ‘Poetry – Only My Dreams: Celebrating WB Yeats’s Birthday in his Nobel-Prize Centenary Year 1923-2023’, Bedford Park Festival, St Michael and All Angels Church, 8pm, more here
Marina joined London & Local poets, hosted by Chiswick poets Anne-Marie Fyfe and Cahal Dallat. Marina brought with her personal literary choices, for the second half of the poetry of ‘dreams’. Copies of Inventory of a Life Mislaid were on sale at the event through Waterstones Chiswick. The festival begins June 9 and carries on until June 25, with many wonderful events – have a look at the full programme here
25th May, ‘Archives, History and Memory in Memoir Writing’, University of Reading @ The Museum of English Rural Life (Redlands Road Reading, Berkshire RG1 5EX), 5.30-7pm. More information here.
Join Marina as she discusses drawing on archives and the interweaving of history and memory in memoir-writing. She will be talking about her memoir, Inventory of a Life Mislaid, which focuses on her early years and uses memory and imagination as well as writing and objects to recreate the extraordinary world of her childhood and her mother’s marriage into upper class English life. She has recently presented some of her family papers to the University book and publishing collections, relating to her father’s work in establishing a branch of WH Smith’s in Cairo after the Second World War.
A selection of artifacts from the WH Smith archives held in the University of Reading’s Special Collections will be on display and attendees will have the chance to view this from 5.30pm. Refreshments will be available from 5.30pm and the talk will start at 6.00pm. This event is run in partnership with the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing (CBCP) at The University of Reading.
Find out more here!
17th May, Journal Launch Faces de Eva, n.º 48, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego (Av. da República 300, 2750-475 Cascais, Portugal), 6pm. More information here.
Marina has contributed an homage to Paula Rego (a version of which was originally published in The Art Newspaper on 24 June 2022) to the 48th issue of Faces de Eva: Estudos sober a Mulher. The biannual journal is made by a research team that is integrated in the Centro Interdisciplinar de Ciências Sociais da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (CICS.NOVA) (the Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon). The magazine issue is dedicated to Paula Rego, a year on from her death. The launch is taking place at the Paula Rego museum in Cascais, with the curator Catarina Alfaro and writer Anabela Mota Ribeiro. To find out more about the journal, look here.
‘The Pinwill Sisters’, 19 (Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century): Victorian Beauty, Issue 34, 2023
Marina has contributed a piece to the latest issue of 19 celebrates the work of Professor Hilary Fraser who was Geoffrey Tillotson Chair of Nineteenth-Century Studies at Birkbeck, University of London from 2002 to 2020. The issue contains contributions from twenty scholars working across disciplines all of whom take the notion of Victorian beauty as a unifying theme through which to explore and respond to Hilary’s wide-ranging body of work. From the Victorian fascination with the luminous effects of fireflies to the reworking of notions of Victorian beauty in post-war British cinema, the issue traces the idea of Victorian beauty through a variety of different contexts that include the mass production of art objects and the impact of new technologies, women’s roles within the Victorian art world, shifting museum acquisition practices, the development of aesthetic thought and ecological critique, and non-Western concepts of beauty and the Beautiful. Marina’s work focuses on the Pinwill Sisters, tracing their woodcarving designs across Cornwall and Devon, emphasizing their place as part of a wider aesthetic revolution. It is available to read here.
25 April, Temporale excerpt in Book Post‘s most recent mail-out, along with a review
Book Post have featured Marina’s latest publication Temporale in their 25 April Diary, along with a review of the work, giving some background on the Cahiers series:
Temporale reflects on ways to cultivate in modern life the benefits of the marking of time in ancient calendars. The Cahiers series, a veritable who’s who of contemporary literature and art […] Dan Gunn teamed up with designer and Sylph Editions founder Ornan Rotem to create a series of impeccably produced, hand-bound chapbooks of around forty pages, combining art and literature. In 2013 he was joined by scholar and critic Daniel Medin. Find out more about […] the confluence of circumstances that nourished [Dan Gunn’s] eclectic career in this interview—in Music & Literature—with Lydia Davis.
14 April, ‘Temporale’, The New York Review, Excerpt from Marina’s longer piece for The Cahiers Series
This edited excerpt from Marina’s book, Temporale is accompanied by historical images of almanacs and timekeepers, as well as part of Francesco del Cossa’s frescoes that make up the months in Palazzo Schifanoia!
21st April, ‘The Essay’, BBC R3
Marina contributed to a series of ‘The Essay’ for BBC R3, which takes William Shakespeare’s First Folio as a prompt, 400 years after it was published. In the last essay of this series, Marina Warner chooses a speech from Othello – from Act 1, Scene 3 of the play. She tells us why it raises questions about stories and history as well as ideas about heroism, prejudice and fantasy.
As a writer who has often grappled with the truthfulness of stories, myths and fairy tales, Marina reveals she selected the speech because in the passage, Shakespeare is reflecting on the ways imagination makes things real. At this point in the play, Othello is setting out to clear himself after Brabantio, the father of his new wife, Desdemona, has railed against the ‘practices of cunning hell’ which Othello must have used to make her fall in love with him. Marina reflects on the reciprocal projections exchanged between tellers of tales and their audiences and considers how suggestible Othello and Desdemona are.
18th April, ‘John Berger: Stop-Gap Man’, An event to celebrate a special issue of Critical Quarterly (Volume 65, Issue 1)
Marina contributed her piece ‘John Berger’s Knowledge, or Listening in to the Voice of the (Female) Image’ to a special Critical Quarterly issue on John Berger, available to read here! Edited by Leo Robson, other writers in the issue include George Prochnik, Lamorna Ash, Ben Lerner, Rebecca Liu and Jonathan Nunn.
EXPeditions tweeted Marina’s short talk, Part 3/3: Looking at art: a two-way process, over the Easter weekend
All three talks Marina gave a few years ago are available to watch back here!
30th March, 6.30 – 8.00PM, Centre of British Photography (49 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX), ‘Marina Warner in Conversation with Patrizia Di Bello: Jo Spence: Fairy Tales and Photography’, Tickets £6 – more here
Marina spoke with with Patrizia Di Bello on the themes of fairy tales and transformation in Jo Spence’s work, and its resonances in contemporary culture.
Patrizia Di Bello is professor of History and Theory of Photography at Birkbeck, where she looks after the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive. Her book on Women’s Albums and Photography in Victorian England (2007) was inspired by Jo Spence’s writings on the family album. She is the author, with Charlene Heath, of ‘The Work Which is Not One’, in Photography and Collaboration, eds Mathilde Bertrand and Karine Chambefort, due out in 2024.
A note from Marina about Dubravka Ugrešić, on hearing the sad news that she died on 17th March. Read the full obituary written by Marina on The Guardian website here
I am very sad to hear of Dubravka Ugrešić’s death. She was a rare writer, fearless, honest, mischievous, acerbic and endlessly observant. She was a friend and an ally since the first time we met in the Eighties, when Yugoslavia was still her country. Her loss is a profound loss to the world.
To find out more about Dubravka Ugrešić, TANK Magazine have published a short commemoration here. In 2019, Marina interviewed Dubravka for TANK, which was republished and is available here. Marina also wrote a review of Dubravka’s book Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Edinburgh: Canongate, 2009) for LRB (Vol. 31, No.16, 27 August 2009), which is available to read here.
23 March, ‘The Lost Father by Marina Warner: a lush family saga by a formidable writer’, a piece by Lucy Scholes, The Booker Prize website and on Literary Hub
Lucy Scholes writes a wonderful and in-depth piece on Marina’s novel The Lost Father (1987), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1988. Scholes finds The Lost Father and the more recently published Inventory of a Life Mislaid as interlinked, related:
I found myself re-reading The Lost Father last summer, enticed back into its intoxicating world thanks to Warner’s recent book, Inventory of a Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir. Although published 34 years apart, the two books are step-siblings of a sort.
The full piece is available to read here!
17 March, TLS, ‘Dish delish’, Temporale feature
In the TLS column by M. C., Marina’s latest book Temporale is mentioned, with a photograph from the publication by Dimitris Kleanthis shown alongside. M.C. writes
We admire the choice of images such as the portal station reclaimed by nature, pictures above, perhaps a little more because they do not exactly illustrate the essay they accompany; rather, they “partner” them. […] And as Kleanthis’s photos are to Temporale, so Temporale is to Warner’s recent memoir Inventory of a Life Mislaid, resuming a life story from a different angel. May post-lockdown literature bring about more such partnerships.
‘Rusalka: The Element of Water’, Rusalka programme, Rusalka, 21 February–7 March 2023, Royal Opera House.
Marina contributed her piece ‘Rusalka: The Element of Water’ to the production of Dvořák’s lyric fairy tale on at London’s Royal Opera House (ends 7 March 2023). Here is a bit more information about the production:
Rusalka, a water spirit, lives with her family in the pure waters of the forest lake. When she falls in love with a Prince, she sacrifices her voice and leaves her home in the hope of finding true love in a new world – a world that does not love her back.
Natalie Abrahami and Ann Yee create a poetic, contemporary new staging of Dvořák’s lyric fairy tale, revealing our uneasy relationship with the natural world and humanity’s attempts to own and tame it. Semyon Bychkov conducts an all-star cast featuring Asmik Grigorian (Jenůfa) in the title role.
Find out more here.
Rusalka was reviewed by Paul Griffiths in the Times Literary Supplement issue no. 6257 (p.15) Griffiths wrote:
This is Rusalka’s tragedy, presented as such in both a startling visual sign of her sacrifice and a supreme performance by Asmik Grigorian […] Rusalka has a history of slipping away […] This version should stick around.
Nothing More Wondrous’, The New York Review of Books, February 23, 2023 Issue – online here
Marina reviewed Medieval Marvels and Fictions in the Latin West and Islamic World by Michelle Karnes for the NYRB.
POSTPONED TO 12 OCTOBER 2023
19 January 2023, 6pm GMT (in person and online),’Viral Spiral: Multiple Shape-shifting from Ovid to Covid’, BCLA, booking available in person (Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre, Goldsmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6AD) and online. Information here.
NB: The lecture has had to be rescheduled to 19 January 2023 due to the UCU national strike at universities on the original date of 24 November 2022. We apologise for any inconvenience. Bookings already made remain valid. (Those who had booked for 24 November 2022 have been contacted by email. If you booked but did not receive an email, please check your spam folder.) Booking is free but required!
11 January, Visiting Writer, Farleigh Dickinson University’s Creative Writing MFA in Wroxton
Marina Warner, ‘JANUARY’S SELECTION, AN ALTERNATIVE LITERARY ECOLOGY’, Essay for Spiracle, January 2023
Read Marina’s short piece for Spiracle here. Explore Spiracle‘s wonderful, thoughtful collection of audio books – they are carefully selected publications of small presses, with attention given to translated works.
It might seem an incongruous comparison, but the current publishing scene makes me think of motorways: while the juggernauts grind by in the main flow of traffic, their verges and the hedgerows on smaller, parallel roads are fostering plants and flowers and wildlife in great diversity.