Helen Walmsley Johnson’s brave and unflinching memoir on coercive control, LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO, is published today by Macmillan in hardback and ebook. Helen’s frank account of life in an abusive relationship is a valuable read that opens up an important conversation about what coercive control is, and the fight to overcome it.

For more than two years, BBC Radio 4’s The Archers ran a disturbing storyline centred on Helen Tichener’s abuse at the hands of her husband Rob. Not the kind of abuse that leaves a bruise, but the sort of coercive control that breaks your spirit and makes it almost impossible to walk away. As she listened to the unfolding story, Helen Walmsley-Johnson was forced to confront her own agonising past.

Helen’s first husband controlled her life, from the people she saw to what was in her bank account. He alienated her from friends and family and even from their three daughters. Eventually, he threw her out and she painfully began to rebuild her life. Then, divorced and in her early forties, she met Franc. Kind, charming, considerate Franc. For ten years she would be in his thrall, even when he too was telling her what to wear, what to eat, even what to think.

LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO is Helen’s candid and utterly gripping memoir of how she was trapped by a smiling abuser, not once but twice. It is a vital guide to recognising, understanding and surviving this sinister form of abuse and its often terrible legacy. It is also an inspirational account of how one woman found the courage to walk away.

You can read extracts from LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO in both YOU magazine, and The Times Magazine. Yesterday, Helen appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire show, talking openly about the abuse she endured in her past relationships. She will be attending the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World festival tomorrow, joining a panel to discuss the how shame is used to control women. In June, she will be speaking at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

Helen Walmsley-Johnson was the author of the Guardian’s popular ‘The Vintage Years’ column, on older women and style. She worked for the Daily Telegraph, before joining the Guardian as Alan Rusbridger’s PA for seven years. Her book about middle-age, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, was published to great acclaim in 2015. She lives in Rutland.

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‘A brave and gripping book…Her book, part-memoir, part self-help unpicks exactly what happened to her, demonstrating just how blithely easy it is to succumb to this form of domestic abuse, but critically it’s also about how to recognise it, survive it, and rebuild your life in the aftermath.’ — The Bookseller

‘Walmsley-Johnson has succeeded in her fundamental aim: to offer a valuable map of coercive abuse. She has also written a warming, subtle and realistic narrative of recovery.’ — Terri Apter, The Times Literary Supplement


‘THE INVISIBLE WOMAN always speaks to me, and for me. It's about saying up yours to the cult of youth, but also about seeing the life of the 50 + as hilariously funny (not unlike the life of the 15-year-old, when you come to think about it).’ — Professor Mary Beard

‘THE INVISIBLE WOMAN remains a warm, companionable book with a tart aftertaste. Above all – and this is perhaps not quite its intention – it is a reminder to all of us, man, woman, young or getting on a bit, that, no matter how solid our lives seem, we are all of us one bad decision or single piece of rotten luck away from losing everything. And for that we should be both grateful and prepared.’ — Kathryn Hughes, Guardian

‘I imagined this book as a witty riposte to ageing, and in some ways it is. But it’s much more than that. It’s full of serious insights. The author, approaching 60 at the time of writing, tells us about ageing and about how it seems to have changed in her lifetime. She makes the point that, years ago, retirement was “a reward” but now it “could be seen as the punishment”. She is excellent, too, on midlife crises, the death of parents, memory, and how to deal with the passing of time.' — Evening Standard


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An enchanting memoir on childhood reading, BOOKWORM by Lucy Mangan, is published in hardback and ebook today by Square Peg. Lucy revisits childhood favourites in this immersive read, reflecting on what these stories meant as a young reader, and how these meanings have changed over time. Jacqueline Wilson has praised BOOKWORM as ‘passionate, witty, informed, and gloriously opinionated'. 

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia, Kirrin Island, and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With CHARLOTTE’S WEB she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In BOOKWORM, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. Bringing the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – Lucy brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

Lucy Mangan is a journalist and a writer for the Guardian. She has written for most major women’s magazines, including Grazia, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, and has a weekly column in Stylist magazine. She was named Columnist of the Year at PPA Awards in 2013. Her works include MY FAMILY AND OTHER DISASTERS, HOPSCOTCH AND HANDBAGS: The Essential Guide to Being a Girl, and THE RELUCTANT BRIDE. A commemoration of 50 years of Roald Dahl's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, INSIDE CHARLIE'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY was published by Puffin UK/US in 2014.

Visit Lucy’s Guardian page

Follow Lucy on Twitter

Praise for BOOKWORM:

‘Throughout BOOKWORM [Mangan] artfully evokes that peculiar magic of reading as a child…Deliciously unrepentant, Mangan’s BOOKWORM makes a timely case not just for how vital reading is, but also for rereading books as a child, and how reading remains consoling, fortifying and, sometimes, magical.’ — Helen Davies, The Times

‘A wonderful romp through the pages of childhood, illuminated by wisdom, humour and enthusiasm.’ — Bernard Cornwell

‘Absolutely gorgeous. I felt like this was written just for me, and I think everyone will feel this way.’ — Jenny Colgan

'Beautiful and moving... It will kickstart a cascade of nostalgia for countless people' — Marian Keyes

‘Mangan is writing to and for her fellow book junkies, the ones who can’t leave the house without a book (or three) in their bag, for whom even the thought of doing so brings them out in a cold sweat. BOOKWORM invites us to relive and re-evaluate our own childhood reading, and has the good manners to entertain us along the way.’ — Claire Hennessy, Headstuff

‘What a treat! If you remember reading any of these for the first time, or just identify as a bookworm in general this book is such a delight…I can’t think of a better tribute to the power of reading…an ideal gift for any bookworm you know.’ — Bee Reader




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Today sees the launch at Cape Town’s Book Lounge of Sisonke Msimang’s frank, fierce and insightful ALWAYS ANOTHER COUNTRY: A Memoir of Exile and Home, a book born from the author’s extraordinary global upbringing. Insightful, angry, hopeful, ALWAYS ANOTHER COUNTRY introduces a bold new voice on feminism, race, politics and Africa. Jonathan Ball Publishers won a fierce bidding war for Southern African rights and Sisonke’s debut has already won high-level pre-publication praise:

‘Brutally and uncompromisingly honest, Sisonke’s beautifully crafted storytelling enriches the already extraordinary pool of young African women writers of our time. Sisonke, a child of the Struggle, revisits the metamorphosis of the value system embraced by the liberation movements and emerges as a powerful free spirit, nurtured by its resilient core values.’ – Graça Machel

‘Sisonke Msimang kindles a new fire in our store of memoir, a fire that will warm and singe and sear for a long, long while.’ – Njabulo S. Ndebele, author The Cry of Winnie Mandela

 ‘A brave and intimate journey. Msimang delivers a deep call for fierce courage in the face of hypocrisy and compassion when faced with our shared humanity.’ – Yewande Omotoso, author of The Woman Next Door

As Jonathan Ball Publisher Ester Levinrad said on winning the hotly contested multi-publisher auction for Southern African rights to Sisonke’s story:  ‘Once in a while you are fortunate enough to work with a writer who crystallises what makes publishing in South Africa so exciting, telling a personal story that could only have a local genesis, yet with a potential which defies borders. That is Sisonke’s story, to me – her writing helps me to make sense not only of the country but the world in which we live.’

From her peripatetic childhood in a family of political exiles – from Zambia to Kenya to Canada and beyond – Sisonke tracks formative moments in her personal and political life, including the euphoria at return to the new South Africa, the disillusionment at new political elites, and the ugly face of racism and xenophobia. But while well-known political figures appear in these pages, ALWAYS ANOTHER COUNTRY is also an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang’s international childhood prepared her to be a global citizen and an eloquent warrior for social justice, while her experience as a journalist and incisive political analyst makes her vision wider than the personal – but she also has a fiction writer’s gift for vivid characterisation and dialogue, and a voice that is warm, honest and wise. ALWAYS ANOTHER COUNTRY is moving and relevant, sometimes as much generous manifesto as memoir, following the journey of a girl becoming a woman, a feminist, a campaigner, a mother and a writer.

Sisonke Msimang lives in Perth, Australia, where she is Programme Director for the Centre for Stories, a social enterprise organisation, but she travels regularly to the US, South Africa and internationally. The child of prominent political exiles during South Africa’s apartheid era, she was born in Swaziland and raised in Zambia, Kenya and Canada, before going to the US as an undergraduate. Her family returned to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of liberation movements in the early 1990s.

She has a BA from Macalester College, Minnesota, a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Cape Town, is a Yale World Fellow, an Aspen New Voices Fellow, and was Ruth First Fellow at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She regularly contributes to publications like The Guardian, The Daily Maverick, The Conversation, the Huffington Post and The New York Times. Sisonke contributed a chapter to THE TIES THAT BIND:  FRIENDSHIP AND RACE IN SOUTH AFRICA (University of Toronto Press). She recently gave an extremely popular TED Talk and narrated a story at The Moth event in New York.


Read and see more by Sisonke Msimang:

In Association with the Aspen New Voices Fellowship

Follow Sisonke on Twitter


Pan Macmillan acquires memoir of coercive abuse by Helen Walmsley-Johnson, acclaimed Guardian commentator and author of The Invisible Woman

‘Not all abusive relationships can be measured in broken bones and bruises. Not all abusive relationships are visible to the untrained eye.’ - Helen Walmsley-Johnson

For more than a year, the unfolding story of Helen Titchener has gripped the residents of Ambridge and, via Radio 4’s long-running drama The Archers, the nation.  Now, found not guilty, freed from prison and with her children at last restored to her, Helen is free to get on with her life.   But her abusive husband Rob is still in Ambridge and the story is not yet over.

As the story developed, one listener shuddered as what was happening to the fictional Helen brought back painful memories of what she herself had gone through.  Not once, but twice.  When Helen Walmsley-Johnson published a remarkably frank piece about her experiences as a victim of abuse in the New Statesman, she received an overwhelming response.  Since then, Helen has been an active presence in the media as a commentator on coercive abuse.  In her as yet untitled memoir, Helen will describe with typically clear-sighted candour how very easy it is to succumb to this form of domestic abuse, but – more importantly – how to survive it and rebuild your life.

Non-Fiction Editorial Director Georgina Morley said, ‘I am thrilled to be publishing Helen.  We first met on Twitter, where her bracing tweetalong to the Archers omnibus has won her countless friends and fans.  Now, she tells her own story – and the story of so many women who have suffered from abusive partners.  Her book will find a wide readership and will, I have no doubt, help many women find the courage to tell their stories and to seek help.’

Helen Walmsley-Johnson said, ‘I hadn’t been able to give a name to my experiences until I read the Home Office list of typical behaviour in a coercive relationship; I read it because of Helen’s story in The Archers, and it rang a number of bells for me personally. I have to thank the women (and men) who got in touch after I wrote that first piece back in February, for starting me on the path to this book: I will endeavour to be as ‘bracing’ as my Twitter feed in seeing it through to completion under expert eye of George Morley and Pan Macmillan, and am delighted to be able to keep this important conversation going.’

Macmillan acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann and will publish in early 2018.

For further information please contact Sarah Patel in the Pan Macmillan press office on 020 7014 6187 or email sarah.patel@macmillan.com

About Pan Macmillan

Pan Macmillan is the UK general book publishing arm of the Macmillan Group, which operates in over 70 countries.  Its imprints include Macmillan, Mantle, Pan, Picador, Bluebird, Boxtree, Sidgwick & Jackson, Bello, Tor, Macmillan Children's Books, Campbell Books, Macmillan New Writing and Macmillan Digital Audio.


Lyndall Gordon’s DIVIDED LIVES out today

Lyndall Gordon’s richly-layered memoir DIVIDED LIVES: DREAMS OF A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER is published by Virago on 19 June. The award-winning biographer turns her insightful writer’s eye to her own life and her relationship to her mother – an extraordinary and intensely realised tale of loyalty and division; breakdown and recovery; migration and home.

The book has already received excellent reviews, with Susie Orbach in the Observer calling Lyndall ‘a biographer with soul, she reaches into the hearts of those she brings alive for us’.

There are  several chances for readers to catch her around the UK talking about the book in coming months.

On 9 July, Lyndall will be at the Telegraph Way With Words Festival at Dartington Hall. She will be talking about Mothers and Daughters, in the Barn at 5pm. Tickets cost £5 and can be booked online.

On 26 July, she  is reading at the Women Writers’ Salon with Maggie Gee, author of VIRGINIA WOOLF IN MANHATTAN, at the Upper Wimpole Street Literary Salon. The event starts at 7 with readings beginning at 7:30. 

Later this year, Lyndall will be appearing at Ilkley literary festival, among others.

Lyndall 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. 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.

Lyndall Gordon's earlier memoir SHARED LIVES, about her group of young friends growing to womanhood in 1950s Cape Town, is now also available in ebook for the first time.

Visit Lyndall's Website

 Praise for Lyndall Gordon:

'An inspired and unconventional biographer' - Independent on Sunday

 'Gordon is one of the best biographers writing today.' - -  Catherine Hollis, Sacramento Book Review

 'Lyndall Gordon is known for the thoroughness of her research and meticulous attention to detail… a fine researcher's eye… an exceptional and unusual mind.' - -  Janet van Eeden, The Witness


 ‘A wonderful – and at times painful – memoir about the expectations of love and duty between mother and daughter.’ – The Bookseller, Editor’s Picks

 ‘Daughterhood, as Lyndall Gordon demonstrates in her intense and semi-poetic family memoir, is a complex and demanding role. In prose both lyrical and meticulous, Gordon describes a relationship … from which no woman is exempt. A disturbing and often beautiful book that confronts heritage, selfishness, infidelity and obsessive secrecy, and which explores and ultimately celebrates the lifelong emotional seesaw between parent and child.’  – Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard

 ‘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. In preparation, she has learnt the anguish and the heartbeat of another, the other, her mother, Rhoda, whose presence rules the pages of this memoir. …In this fascinating mix between memoir and biography, we see the struggle of a daughter, to keep an attachment with her mother that is both close and yet boundaried, separate and connected, an attachment in which each can live their dreams.’ – Susie Orbach, The Observer