Language & Literature
This event costs £38 and lasts half a day.
Dr Anna Keay, Director of the Landmark Trust
Setting the scene: introduction
John Mullan, professor of English at University College
One of the most influential British novelists of the second half of the 20th century, John Fowles helped to create literary fiction and to find a huge readership for it. Formally daring and playful, he is our first post-modernist novelist. Books like The Collector, The Magus – in the BBC’s Big Read list of the nation’s 100 favourite novels – and The French Lieutenant’s Woman quickly became best-sellers and, later, films. Our afternoon is chaired by John Mullan, who says that Fowles showed that: ‘A highly literary novel could also be a potential bestseller . . . he offered readers literary pleasure as well as the voltage they expected from contemporary fiction.’
The French Lieutenant’s Woman’s Legacy
Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway
Fowles’s most famous novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, had an enormous effect, both because of its innovative style and because of the way it ‘re-imagined’ the Victorians. It kick-started the trend for ‘re-telling’ Victorian life from controversial angles, both in fiction – Sarah Waters, Michael Faber – and in popular history – Kate Summerscale. Robert Eaglestone explores Fowles’s literary legacy and recalls: ‘I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman much too young – but it had a huge impact on me.’
The Journals of John Fowles
Charles Drazin, of Queen Mary College and editor of John Fowles’s journals
The nearly two million words in John Fowles’s journals were at the very heart of his identity as a writer, serving as an engine room for his creativity and inspiration. They were his longest, most sustained literary activity, preceding and outlasting his career as a novelist. Described as a literary landmark and one of the most extraordinary journals of our time, this work was edited by Charles Drazin, who will recall what it was like to work with Fowles at Lyme Regis and discuss the insight that the journals offer into his life and work.
What influences shaped and inspired John Fowles?
John Sutherland, Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of English Literature at University College London, author, columnist and critic
‘Literary life and work are inseparable and mutually illuminating,’ says John Sutherland in his book, Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives. Here he debates the value of understanding the influences thast inspired John Fowles’s writing career from significant authors like Camus, Fournier and Hardy to his childhood upbringing, with particular reference to Daniel Martin, the most autobiographical of his novels.
5.00 – 5.45pm
Continuing the conversation: discussion with the panel and audience
The Landmark Trust is raising funds to restore John Fowles’s former house in Lyme Regis, Dorset, and make it available to all.
For a leaflet with more details of this event click here.