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Telling Histories


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Sara Collins and Will Eaves discuss the complexities of inhabiting other voices and what it means to restore incomplete historical narratives. Chaired by Aida Edemariam.

Edward Said wrote, ‘All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgment and interpretation.’

How do writers take on the limitations of history and knowledge in historical fiction? Who gets to voice our histories? As the RSL celebrates its 200th year, Sara Collins and Frannie Langton discuss the complexities of inhabiting other voices and what it means to restore incomplete historical narratives. In Sara Collins’ Costa First Novel Award-winning The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a Jamaican girl tells her story of love, violence and power in 1826 London. In his Wellcome Prize-winning Murmur, Will Eaves gives voice to Alan Turing’s inner life, exploring the very nature of consciousness. Their discussion is chaired by broadcaster and writer Aida Edemariam, whose first book, The Wife’s Tale, won both an RSL Jerwood Award and the RSL Ondaatje Prize.

We are grateful to the Royal Literary Fund for sponsoring this event.

Recorded on: January 20, 2020
Recorded at: British Library Knowledge Centre
Sponsored by: Royal Literary Fund