The Testaments out now


Unspeakable: An Evening with Harriet Shawcross & Lucy Scholes

Thursday 11th April 18:30 at London - Hatchards - Piccadilly

As a teenager, Harriet Shawcross stopped speaking at school for almost a year, retreating into herself and communicating only when absolutely necessary. As an adult, she became fascinated by the limits of language and in UNSPEAKABLE she asks what makes us silent.

From the inexpressible trauma of trench warfare and the aftermath of natural disaster to the taboo of coming out, Shawcross explores how and why words fail us. From the mountains of Nepal to New York’s theatre district, she travels the world meeting people who constantly wrestle with language. She studies the work of George Oppen, a poet who couldn’t write a line for twenty-five years, interviews Eve Ensler whose play The Vagina Monologues gave voice to the truths of female sexuality, and meets the founders of The Samaritans who have been listening silently to those in need since the 1950s.

A beguiling mix of memoir, history, literary criticism and investigative journalism, UNSPEAKABLE is a moving and unprecedented study of the power of silence. Harriet Shawcross is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist and was shortlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize. UNSPEAKABLE is her first book, and Hatchards are delighted to be hosting her to discuss its booming theme and message. Our chair for the evening is Lucy Scholes, who writes for the Financial Times, the Observer, BBC Culture and the New York Times Book Review, amongst others. She also runs the phenomenal Bitch Lit feminist book group with our London friends, Waterstones Gower Street.


“Explores what makes us silent, from the aftermath of natural disaster to the taboo of coming out. A heady mix of memoir, history, literary criticism and journalism” Sunday Post

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