Tracy Chevalier was catapulted to fame with the publication of her second novel in 1999. Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired by Vermeer’s portrait of the same name, sold five million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson. Chevalier has a particular way of approaching visual art. Easily overcome by ‘gallery fatigue’, she makes a quick tour of an exhibition, before returning to spend time with the one or two paintings – very often portraits – that have struck her most forcibly. Then she allows her imagination to work on them until stories begin to emerge. In a conversation illustrated by slides, Chevalier speaks to writer, journalist and broadcaster Nicolette Jones, shares some of her favourite paintings and reflects on the tales they tell.

We are grateful to the National Portrait Gallery, our partner for this event.