Edmund de Waal in conversation with Penelope Lively

Filed under: Non-fiction

Edmund de Waal in conversation with Penelope Lively, chaired by Peter Parker

Until Edmund de Waal inherited his great uncle Iggie’s collection of 264 netsuke, he had no idea what an extraordinary story they had to tell. In The Hare with Amber Eyes, winner of this year’s Costa Biography Award, the world-renowned ceramic artist traces the history of the Ephrussi family, the original owners of this collection of miniature carvings and once the largest grain exporters in the world, from staggering wealth in the 1870s to near extinction in the Second World War. Penelope Lively, in A House Unlocked (2001), tells the story of an Edwardian country house, Golsoncott in Somerset, and discovers that its contents – needlework samplers, picnic rugs, a grand piano and even potted-meat jars – not only become ‘signifiers of a century’, but also bear witness to its ‘public traumas’. She discusses with Edmund de Waal the attractions of combining memoir and social history, and the fascination of what she calls ‘the silent eloquence of the physical world’.

We are grateful to Sir Ralph Kohn of The Kohn Foundation for sponsoring this event.

Recorded on Monday 16 May 2011.

Related RSL Fellows

Dame Penelope Lively 1985
Peter Parker 1997