Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley’s new collection of stories, After the Funeral, was published in July.

Flight of Snakes: Emily Holmes Coleman

Tessa Hadley, 7 September 2023

I’vefound out something disturbing about Emily Holmes Coleman, which is that she wrote – and in biro – in other people’s books. She turned up once at the house of a friend, the novelist Mary Wesley, travelling with just two carrier bags of her things. Wesley mentioned that she had been reading Simone Weil, and the next morning found Coleman ‘sitting in bed...

It’s​ an uncanny thing, to revisit a book you liked in your youth. Even when the book is still as good as you thought it was, it isn’t the same book, because you’re not the same reader – you come at every sentence from a different angle, with new information and different tastes. The book doesn’t change, but you change and times change. I have a distinct memory...

A Parlour in Purley: Life as a Wife

Tessa Hadley, 17 June 2021

We could hardly expect George Meredith to be thankful for his humiliation at the hands of his too-lively first wife, who was insufficiently devoted to his greatness. But it’s possible now to see that Mary Ellen’s betrayal was the necessary irritant, the grit, that brought out his best work. He couldn’t leave her story alone – in novel after novel he returned to portraits of women dissatisfied with their lumbering males, who are always one step behind and too much in love with themselves to see anyone else clearly.

Every​ so often literary history convulses, then settles down into a different shape. New tastes and new politics cast a lurid light on the judgments of forty, fifty, sixty years ago: some established names take a tumble and some forgotten names rise, mostly after the deaths of the authors concerned. New-old writers are good for publishers, but this literary resurrection is genuinely, too,...

When​ Jean Stafford published Boston Adventure in 1944, at the age of 29, Life magazine called her ‘the most brilliant of new fiction writers’. The novel sold an impressive 380,000 copies and she went on to publish two more, The Mountain Lion (1947) and The Catherine Wheel (1952). Throughout the 1950s, her short stories were a fixture in the New Yorker. She published nothing...

No Shortage of Cousins: Bowenology

David Trotter, 12 August 2021

The pleasures as much as the perils of adaptation led Elizabeth Bowen to suppose that the fundamental condition of human experience is a feeling of ‘amorphousness’ which prompts the ‘obsessive wish...

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Faithful in the Dusk: Tessa Hadley

Adam Mars-Jones, 15 August 2019

The autumnal title​ of Tessa Hadley’s new novel, almost in the resigned mode of Barbara Pym, is both truthful and deceptive. Relationships of love and friendship with deep roots in the...

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