Vital Discussions: Deborah Levy and Merve Emre

Vital Discussions On Demand is a series of conversations created by the Royal Society for Literature.

Join Deborah Levy and Merve Emre as they discuss what Virginia Woolf means to them and the enduring influence of her work on their own writing.This event is presented in partnership with LitHub.

This wide-ranging conversation will feature an exploration of Woolf’s strength and fragility, how reading writers of the past shapes the authors of today, and what we still have to learn from Woolf and her work.

You can discover upcoming events from the RSL on their website here. You can also become a member of the RSL, offering the benefits and joys of a literary festival and book club, rolled into one, all year round. Purchase an RSL Digital Events Pass to access all RSL events for just £25 for a year.

Speakers

Bessie Smith: Jackie Kay in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

Watch again now.

The British Library and Faber Social present a celebration of Bessie Smith, pioneering blues singer and one of the biggest stars of the 1920s and 30s.

As a young black girl growing up in Glasgow, writer and poet Jackie Kay found in Bessie someone with whom she could identify and who she could idolise. Kay talks to award winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo about her new book on Bessie's life, which mixes enthralling biography with fiction, poetry and prose.

Plus a selection of Bessie Smith’s songs performed by special guest singer Nona Hendryx, most famously of the group Labelle.

Bessie’s life was as tempestuous as it was extraordinary. Born in Tennessee in 1894 and orphaned by the age of nine, Smith sang on street corners before becoming a big name in travelling shows alongside the likes of Ma Rainey. In 1923 she made her first recording for a new start-up called Columbia Records. It sold 780,000 copies.

Smith’s life was notoriously difficult: she drank pints of ‘bathtub gin’, got into violent fist fights, spent huge sums of money and had passionate love affairs with men and women. She once single-handedly fought off a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

Her gorgeous and powerful voice, unapologetic songs and bold personality have been an inspiration to many ever since.

<b>Purchase your copy of Jackie Kay's <i>Bessie Smith</i> <a href="https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/webshop/product/bessie-smith-jackie-kay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a></b>

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