Sunday, January 16, 2022

Stacey Halls: “My study looks like my brain exploded in it”

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The author of the bestseller “Mrs England” talks about her respect for Professor Sarah Gilbert – and her affinity for Neville Longbottom

Charles Dickens’ sombre house. With all the evidence I get mailed and the books piling up in the library, it feels like a real treat. But I’ve wanted to read it for so long and this time of year seems perfect.

I am at home in my study. My desk is in front of my pretty green cloth board, on which all my visual cues are collected: photocopies, photographs, postcards and even pages torn from books (sorry). I have three framed typography templates from the early 20th century and lots of shelves within reach, filled with more pictures. One of my favorites is a blackboard my father-in-law bought me that says, “Nothing happened on this page, September 5, 1782.” It is entirely appropriate for the level of productivity going on here.

Probably Philip Pullman who is the greatest living storyteller in my opinion. It makes sense that as a teacher he has honed his skills in telling stories to children at the end of each day of school: you have that quality by the fireplace.

My study looks like my brain exploded in it. There’s no space on any surface, but I know where everything is. I have two lamps because I hate overhead lights, and there is a transparent blind over the window so that I am not distracted from the outside.

Physically, Lucius Malfoy. Otherwise Neville Longbottom.

After the two years we’ve had, it must be Professor Sarah Gilbert who developed the Covid-19 vaccine. I read that during her PhD, she gave serious thought to incorporating science. I am fascinated by the choices we make at these fork in the road.

Mrs. England by Stacey Halls is available now, published by Manilla Press, for £ 8.99

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