Revivalism: Penelope Fitzgerald, with Susannah Clapp and Hermione Lee

The Penelope Fitzgerald who wrote The BookshopOffshore and The Blue Flower is far too celebrated – as the greatest novelist of her time, according to Julian Barnes, and many others – to be in need of a revival. But as Hermione Lee, her biographer, writes in the introduction to the LRB’s new selection of Fitzgerald’s writing for the paper, ‘though she started publishing biography and fiction late in life … she was an old hand as a literary journalist.’ It is this Fitzgerald, ‘a reviewer, a writer of introductions, a literary judge, and a speaker on panels and at literary festivals’, who is the subject of this special event to mark the publication of the LRB’s latest Selections volume.

Lee was in conversation with Susannah Clapp, who worked on many of her LRB pieces, and has described her as an ideal contributor who needed no ‘handling’: ‘She wrote to length, she wrote to time, she wrote without fuss, she wrote a lot’ – on subjects ranging from Alain-Fournier to Adrian Mole, Stevie Smith to Wild Swans – ‘always with a steady brilliance.’