Helen Dunmore Visits The Literary Society
Helen Dunmore is a prize-winning poet, short story writer, children’s writer and novelist whose acclaimed historical fiction we have been discussing in Lit Soc - The Siege and The Betrayal both follow the same family in Leningrad through two turbulent periods, including the siege of the city in 1941.
She began by sharing her thoughts on the importance of historical fiction and considering her personal approach to it. She discussed the importance of various forms of research but also of identifying the point where the imagination should take over. This was illuminated by her reading, especially of the factual source which opens The Siege and grounds much of the fiction that follows. She talked about the daunting task of telling the stories of real tragedies and honouring the truth, topics which were followed up in questions from students.
Discussion ranged from the origins of particularly resonant individual images in the novels to the controversies surrounding the preservation of concentration camps as museums. Hearing her thoughtful insights was thoroughly enjoyable, and she was kind enough to talk to some of her younger fans about the Ingo series too. We are sure that we speak for everyone in Lit Soc in saying what an interesting speaker she was, and we look forward to more such visits next year.
Imogen Hamilton-Jones and Mollie Wintle, Year 12