Maggie O'Farrell: Loves, Labours, Loss

Edinburgh-based Maggie O’Farrell hit a spectacular new career high in 2020 with the publication of Hamnet – winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, a huge bestseller across the world and unquestionably a standout book of that year. Why did O’Farrell’s novel about the death of Shakespeare’s only son strike such a chord with readers? It certainly didn’t do any harm that the story was set in a time of pandemic. But more fundamentally, Hamnet was striking for its compelling and deeply insightful depiction of a mother’s love for her children. Fierce maternal devotion – and the aching sense of loss – forms the heart of this event about the experiences that have shaped her writing and ideas. O’Farrell also discusses the influence of a mild neurological condition on her work. A childhood bout of encephalitis resulted in a number of small but important changes in her mental and bodily performance, including balance issues, inhibited proprioception and stammering. How have these influenced O’Farrell’s writing? O'Farrell joins fellow author Nicola Morgan for a fascinating discussion, filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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