Beth Underdown at International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Writer Beth Underdown
Writer Beth Underdown.

Beth Underdown: Love makes as many at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester 16 October 2018 Tickets from £10.00 — Book now

Named by The Observer last year as one of its New Faces of Fiction and counting among her fans The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins – who described her debut novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister, as “vivid and terrifying” – Beth Underdown was the perfect choice to complete a writing residency at Quarry Bank Mill, on the Styal Estate near Wilmslow.

The Witchfinder’s Sister (out with Penguin Random House and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick) tells of the witch-hunts orchestrated by Matthew Hopkins in seventeenth-century Essex; Love Makes As Many, the result of her recent residency in Cheshire, explores women’s rights and the effects of Suffrage, which gave some the ability to vote a century ago, in 1918.

The new commission – being launched as part of this year’s Manchester Literature Festival programme – responds to the Lost Voices of Quarry Bank exhibition, which sheds light on the women who weren’t heard at the time, and who often remain lost to us today because of their age, status or means, and which can be seen at the working mill until 7 October 2018.

Supported by Trust New Art and working with the National Trust archive, Beth has been finding out how, a few brief weeks before the Armistice, the shortage of cotton brought a strange hush to Quarry Bank mill and the women who made their lives there suddenly found their voices – and found that their voices were finally being heard. Taking their stories as a starting point, and the surroundings as inspiration, Beth came up with Love Makes As Many, a limited-edition collection of ghost stories. These are ghost stories about love – and love stories about ghosts – that capture the voices of five women at Quarry Bank, and the echoes they left behind.

At this event in the atmospheric Engine House at the International Antony Burgess Foundation, Beth – who also manages to fit in lecturing in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing – will be reading some of her new stories, and discussing the writing residency at Quarry Bank with poet and short story writer Tania Hershman. As Tania is currently writer-in-residence at Manchester’s Southern Cemetery (the largest municipal cemetery in the United Kingdom and the second largest in Europe), she’s likely no stranger to the odd spooky goings-on, so you can expect some salient questions and perhaps a shiver down the spine now the nights are drawing in…

For more Trust New Art events in National Trust properties, read on. You can also see Beth at Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival later in the month, on Saturday 20 October.

Beth Underdown: Love makes as many at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester 16 October 2018

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