Credit: Nina Hollington

Credit: Nina Hollington

UK and BC rights to Lyndall Gordon’s ELIOT AMONG THE WOMEN, which draws on over 1,000 letters T.S. Eliot wrote to Emily Hale, have been acquired by Virago chair Lennie Goodings, who described it as ‘a literary landmark book’. The deal was concluded by Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann. In the US Norton have acquired rights in a deal arranged by Georges Borchardt. Publication will be in 2022, the centenary of Eliot’s great long poem, THE WASTE LAND. 

Emily Hale and T.S. Eliot

Emily Hale and T.S. Eliot

Lennie Goodings said: ‘ELIOT AMONG THE WOMEN is the book Lyndall Gordon was born to write; it draws on all her intuitive understanding of this mysterious poet. We are thrilled.’ 

ELIOT AMONG THE WOMEN by the pre-eminent T.S. Eliot biographer, Lyndall Gordon, is set to be one of the most important books on this poet, whose life was shaped by four women who became part of his work. Eliot’s first wife Vivienne Haigh Wood, Mary Trevelyan, a companion, and Valerie Fletcher, his second wife, are well known, but there was another woman who came first – Emily Hale.

Over 1,000 letters from T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale

Over 1,000 letters from T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale

T.S. Eliot wrote to Emily Hale from 1930 to 1956 and the 1,131 letters at Princeton comprise the largest single series of the poet’s correspondence. These letters have been sealed to the public for over sixty years, housed in twelve boxes at Princeton University Library. In January 2020 they will have their steel security bands cut and his letters to her will be revealed to researchers for the first time. Lyndall Gordon will be there when they are opened, to fulfil her belief that Eliot’s secret attachment to this Boston-born teacher of drama is central to understanding his most private emotions during the decades when his creativity was at its height. 

As Virago’s press statement adds: 'ELIOT AMONG THE WOMEN, leading with the newly-revealed letters, and including all the women who were close to him, his mother too and also his well-matched first publisher, Virginia Woolf, will be another ground-breaking work from the biographer who has spent over forty years with her subject.' 

A much-celebrated biographer, Lyndall Gordon lives in Oxford. Among other accolades, she has won the Cheltenham Prize and the James Tait Black prize, been long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize, and shortlisted for the Comisso Prize in Italy for Fazi’s edition of her acclaimed Emily Dickinson biography LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS.

Lyndall Gordon’s biographies – of Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Dickinson and Mary Wollstonecraft – have all drawn widespread praise, and many are published in translation. She is also the author of two memoirs SHARED LIVES and DIVIDED LIVES. Her most recent book, OUTSIDERS, draws on the lives and striking works of Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Emily Brontë and Virginia Woolf and will soon be published in the US by Johns Hopkins University Press. All her books have been published in the UK by Virago.

Praise for Lyndall Gordon

‘Literary bloodhound and superbly eloquent chronicler.’ – Booklist

‘Gordon, a...superb literary biographer who has previously turned her level yet lyrical gaze to Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Brontë, Mary Wollstonecraft and others.’ – Seattle Times

A biographer with soul, she reaches into the hearts of those she brings alive for us. She makes the meaning of their lives sing and sweat as she invites us into their experiences, their longings, their struggles and their disappointments.’ – Susie Orbach, The Observer

‘Lyndall Gordon must be one of the most accomplished literary biographers of this generation…outstanding and stimulating.’ – British Book News

Visit Lyndall Gordon’s website.


OUTSIDERS final cover Little Brown.jpg

OUTSIDERS, Lyndall Gordon’s visionary interlinked biography of five female writers and the experiences that shaped them, is available in paperback from Virago. Described as a ‘thought-provoking group biography’ in The New Statesmen by Erica Wagner and as a book written with ‘passionate intelligence’ by Tessa Hadley in The Guardian, OUTSIDERS was included in New Statesman, Books Live and The Irish Times Books of the Year lists in 2017.

OUTSIDERS tells the stories of five novelists – Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf – and their famous novels. We have long known their individual greatness but in linking their creativity to their lives as outsiders, this group biography throws new light on the genius they share. At that time a woman's reputation was her security and each of these five lost it. But as writers, they made the identities of ‘outsider’, ‘outlaw’, ‘outcast’, their own, taking advantage of their separation from the dominant order to write their brilliant books. What they have in common also is the way they inform one another, and us, across the generations.  Lyndall Gordon names each of these five as prodigy, visionary, outlaw, orator and explorer and shows how they came, they saw and left us changed.

Lyndall has attended a number of festivals and literary events to discuss these inspirational women, including the Bath Festival and Cambridge Literary Festival. Lyndall will be giving the Annual Burnt Norton Lecture at The T. S. Eliot International Summer School in July, discussing the prestigious writer and the women in his life. Rights to OUTSIDERS have recently been acquired by Larrad in Spain and Shanghai Literature & Art Publishing House in China.

Lyndall Gordon's biographies have always shown the indelible connection between life and art: an intuitive, exciting and revealing approach that has been highly praised and much read and enjoyed Like all Lyndall’s books OUTSIDERS will continue to delight and inspire readers for a long time to come.

Praise for OUTSIDERS:

‘Fascinating… The strength of spirit of these outsiders shines from the pages and through the ages as Gordon takes us deep inside their minds, hearts, and books.’ — Anita Sethi, The Observer

‘As the role of women undergoes yet another convulsion, it’s good to read, in Lyndall Gordon’s OUTSIDERS, of the robust intelligence of five women who made a powerful contribution. The work and lives of Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf are well known. Gordon’s thesis sets out just how original and brave they were – and at what cost. We owe them much.’ — Joan Bakewell, New Statesman, Books of the Year 2017

‘I love how Lyndall Gordon thinks and I love the clarity and reach of her writing, combining imaginative audacity with scholarly scruple. Her OUTSIDERS, a collection of portraits of George Eliot, Emily Brontë, Virginia Woolf, Olive Schreiner and Mary Shelley, builds into a lucid meditation on how certain writers become lighthouses for each other.’ — Joseph O’Connor, Irish Times Books of the Year 2017

‘Visionary, beautiful’ — Karina Szczurek, Books Live, The best books of 2017 

‘A lively and enterprising group biography’ — Catherine Taylor, Financial Times

Lyndall Gordon’s OUTSIDERS out from Virago today

OUTSIDERS final cover Little Brown.jpg

Lyndall Gordon’s brilliant new interlinking biography OUTSIDERS: FIVE WOMEN WRITERS WHO CHANGED THE WORLD is published in the UK by Virago in hardback and as an audiobook today, with the trade paperback out in South Africa and Australia soon too.

OUTSIDERS explores the moments of darkness that fuelled the creative genius of five literary women: Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf, all of whom stepped outside the bounds of propriety, challenging social norms and enduring scorn and rejection as a result. OUTSIDERS has already received positive reviews with Claire Lowdon commenting in The Times, that ‘the overlap and interplay between the generations is richly evoked’ and Tessa Hadley praising Lyndall in The Guardian as a ‘natural storyteller… with passionate intelligence.’

At Manchester Literature Festival on 16 October, Lyndall was in conversation with Libby Tempest at The Portico Library about her latest biography. Attending the event, Emma Yates Bradley of Northern Soul said ‘There was something restorative about listening to Gordon talk about these wonderful, smart, capable, literary women – these outsiders.’

Lyndall will be attending several literary festivals over the coming months to discuss the inter-connected biography and the women who shaped it. These include the Oxford Literature Festival on 24 March and Bath Festival on 12 and 13 May 2018. She will also be in South Africa in November this year.

Early next year, 3 February 2018, Lyndall will be focusing on one of these literary greats in her talk VIRGINIA WOOLF: ‘MADNESS’, WAR AND TRAUMA at Bethlem Museum of the Mind. To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, Lyndall will also be reading from OUTSIDERS at the National Theatre. OUTSIDERS release coincides with a number of important centenaries for its subjects. Virago Podcast will be recording an episode with Lyndall, centring on Mary Shelley and the creation of FRANKENSTEIN.

Lyndall has written several acclaimed biographies, documenting the lives of notable female literary figures like Charlotte Brontë, Mary Wollstonecraft and Emily Dickinson, and related fascinating accounts from her own life in the memoirs DIVIDED LIVES and SHARED LIVES, all published by Virago. She has been longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Comisso Prize in Italy for her Emily Dickinson biography, LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS, which has recently been republished by Fazi in a new edition. Spanish publisher Gatopardo recently acquired rights for her biography of Virginia Woolf, A WRITER’S LIFE. Her work has been sold in translation in Italy, Germany, Turkey, China and Spain.

Visit Lyndall’s website.

Praise for Lyndall Gordon:

‘A biographer with soul, she reaches into the hearts of those she brings alive for us. She makes the meaning of their lives sing and sweat as she invites us into their experiences, their longings, their struggles and their disappointments.’ – Susie Orbach, The Observer

‘Gordon is one of the best biographers writing today.’ – Catherine Hollis, Sacramento Book Review

‘A gifted storyteller.’ – Carmela Ciuraru, Miami Herald


Lyndall Gordon has been longlisted for the Warwick Prize for Writing 2015. Gordon’s memoir, DIVIDED LIVES: DREAMS OF A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER, is among five other non-fiction books longlisted. A shortlist will be announced in October, with the winner will be announced in November.

The Warwick Prize for Writing is awarded biannually, and for the first time this year, has been open for direct submissions from publishers. The longlist consists of seven fiction and five non-fiction books along with a collection of poetry. The winner will receive £25,000 and the chance to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick. Chaired by Warwick alumna and author A.L. Kennedy, the judging panel consists of author and academic Robert Macfarlane, actress and director Fiona Shaw, Warwick alumnus and Lonely Planet founder, Tony Wheeler and physician and writer Gavin Francis.

Lyndall's biography of Mary Wollstonecraft, VINDICATION, was also ranked #15 on the New York Times Culture Bestseller list this month.

Gordon was born in 1941 in Cape Town, to a mother whose mysterious illness confined her for years to life indoors. Lyndall was her carer, her ‘secret sharer,’ a child who grew to know life through books, story-telling and her mother's own writings. Written with this renowned biographer’s subtlety and acuity, DIVIDED LIVES is a wonderfully layered memoir about the expectations of love and duty between mother and daughter. Moving and beautiful, DIVIDED LIVES is a poetic memoir about the pain and joy of being a daughter, that is also an intriguing social history and feminist text, rich in literary reference.

Initially published in hardback by Virago in June 2014, the book has received many excellent reviews. Anne Sebbe of The Jewish Chronicle called it a ‘profoundly moving memoir’ and ‘a tender tribute to a mother who taught her to love and cherish books.’


Praise for Lyndall Gordon:

‘Lyndall Gordon is a rare phenomenon: a biographer whose preoccupations and authorial career reveal a flowering towards imaginative truth.’ – Candia McWilliam, Herald

‘We are in the presence of a committed biographer in whom the amalgamation of passion and sympathy finds memorable expression.’ – Adrian Wright, London Magazine

‘Lyndall Gordon must be one of the most accomplished literary biographers of this generation…outstanding and stimulating.’ – British Book News

BFLA Authors at the Franschhoek Literary Festival 2015!

Several Blake Friedmann writers are attending this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival. The festival runs from the 15th to the 17th May. The events take place in village venues within a few minutes' walk of each other, which creates a vibrant ambience in streets buzzing with book-lovers.

The emphasis is on informal discussions and spirited debates between several writers with a chairperson, or one-on-one conversations, and occasional talks. The FLF hosts the shortlist announcements of the annual Sunday Times Literary Awards, for which several Blake Friedmann authors are longlisted.

Karin Brynard, author of WEEPING WATERS (Penguin, 2014), is appearing in two events on Saturday 16th May – ‘Telling Tales or Tub-thumping’ at 1pm and ‘What a Plot I’ve Got’ at 4pm.

Finuala Dowling, author of THE FETCH (Kwela, 2015), features in 5 events throughout all 3 days of the festival, talking about both poetry and prose.

Dorothy Driver, editor of a new edition of Olive Schreiner's FROM MAN TO MAN (to be published by UCT Press/Juta in June) will be appearing in events alongside Lyndall Gordon and Finuala Dowling on the 16th and 17th May.

Lyndall Gordon, author of DIVIDED LIVES (Little, Brown, 2014), is also busy with 5 events across 3 days, including a Life-writing Workshop on Friday 15th May.

Deon Meyer, author of ICARUS (Hodder, 2015; Afrikaans, Human & Rousseau 2015), will be talking about crime writing in 4 events across all 3 days of the festival.

S.A. Partridge, author of SHARP EDGES (Human & Rousseau, 2013), is asking ‘Who Likes what Teens Read?’ at an event on Friday 15th May.

Henrietta Rose-Innes, author of GREEN LION (Umuzi, 2015), appears on Friday 15th May at 2.30 at ‘Prizing African Writing’, and Saturday 16th May at 1pm at ‘Hello World, Africa Here’.

Ivan Vladislavić, author of 101 DETECTIVES (Umuzi, 2015) is taking part in 4 events across the three days of the festival.

You can find out more information about our authors and their events here.

Agent and Director Isobel Dixon will also be taking part in some poetry events at the festival.