Author of the Month: Hilary Mantel

It’s November, and that means it’s time for a new Author of the Month. This month we are celebrating the late, Hilary Mantel.

Hilary Mantel was an award winning author who won several literary accolades in her lifetime. She was the first female author to win The Booker Prize twice. The Wolf Hall trilogy has sold more than 5 million copies and has been translated into 41 different languages.

Find Mantel’s collection of novels on our catalogue.

Author of the Month: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is our author of the month for September. Born in 1939, this well-loved Canadian novelist, poet and essayist has won two Booker prizes and been shortlisted for three more, making her one of only four authors to have won twice!

She has become associated with the rights of women and girls all over the world. The iconic red dress of the Handmaid’s Tale has become a symbol of protest against attacks on women’s rights.

Margaret Atwood is a great read for those looking for strong female characters, uncomfortably plausible dystopias and razor-sharp wit and satire. Her novels have had enduring popularity and raise questions as relevant now as when they were written.

Find Atwood’s books on our catalogue.

“Being able to read and write did not provide answers to all questions. It led to other questions, and then to others.” – The Testaments

Author of the Month: Marian Keyes

Early Biography  
Marian Keyes is an Irish author born in 1963, who grew up in and around Dublin as part of a large family. Keyes completed degrees in law and business, moving to London in 1986 to take on an administrative role. However, Keyes began to struggle with alcoholism and depression in her twenties, eventually attempting to take her own life in 1995. Keyes underwent rehabilitation for her alcoholism in Dublin and began working on short stories, based in part on her own experiences. Keyes submitted these stories to the publisher Poolberg Press, with the promise of a novel to follow. The novel she submitted, Watermelon (1995), would become a best seller in Ireland and launch her career as an author. While Keyes has struggled with mental health difficulties for most of her adult life, she has described her writing as a ‘rope across the abyss’ which has given her the strength in times of crisis. Keyes has been sober now for over 25 years and lives with her husband Tony in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin. 

Work and Career  
Keyes’ works are darkly comic but insightful novels, often based on her own experiences. They cover sensitive topics such as mental illness, divorce, substance abuse and domestic violence while maintaining a tact and approachability which makes them instant favourites with readers. While Keyes’ books tackle heavy topics, their tone and narrative are optimistic and uplifting with a happy ending for all your favourite characters. Keyes main series is the Walsh Family novels, where we join the Walsh Sisters as they navigate the ups and downs of modern life. Watermelon (1995) is the First book in the series, while her latest work Again, Rachel (2022) is the most recent addition. Despite being associated with the genre, Keyes has been a strong critic of the term ‘chick-lit’ and its ‘belittling’ and ‘demeaning’ connotations. Equally, Keyes is a strong feminist and has drawn attention to differences in the way that male and female written works are represented and awarded.  

Accolades, Awards and Statistics 

Keyes is the British Book Awards Author of the Year 2022, recognised for her ‘expert storytelling, incredible warmth of heart, and significant contributions to the publishing industry over three decades of writing’. She has sold over 33 million books worldwide and her works have been translated into 36 different languages. Keyes has won ‘Popular Fiction Book of the Year’ at the Irish Book Awards in 2009 and 2017 for This Charming man (2008) and The Break (2017) respectively. Keyes has had multiple best-selling books in the UK and Ireland, where her works routinely top bestsellers lists. 

Marian Keyes – Biography 
Penguin – Where to start reading Marian Keyes’ books 
The Guardian – Marian Keyes: rehab was one of the happiest times of my life 
Twitter – Marian Keyes  
BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs Marian Keyes – Author of the Year 
Chatelaine – Keyes on the term chick lit 

Check out our Marian Keyes collection on our catalogue

“Writing about feeling disconnected has enabled me to connect, and that has been the most lovely thing of all.” ~ Marian Keyes

From Winchester to Barchester: Anthony Trollope’s links with Hampshire

Anthony Trollope was one of the most popular authors of the 19th century, and his novels, including the Barchester and Palliser series, continue to attract new fans. This talk will explore Anthony Trollope’s links with Hampshire including family connections with Heckfield and Winchester, and some Hampshire locations that may have inspired places in Barchester.

The event also marks the 150th anniversary in 2021 of the publication of Ralph the Heir, much of which is undisguisedly set in northern Hampshire.

This is an online talk using Zoom. Participants will be required to download and use Zoom.

Previous knowledge/experience required: All you need to attend a talk on Zoom is some basic computer skills and experience in using the internet. Don’t worry if you have not used it before as we will send you some basic guidance when you book.

Book your tickets

Join Hampshire Record Office for this fantastic talk on Monday 27 September at 6pm. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked by clicking the ‘Book Now’ image.

Barchester Towers, which was published in 1857, as the sequel to The Warden wryly chronicles the struggle for control of the English diocese of Barchester. It opens with the Bishop of Barchester lying on his death bed; soon a battle begins over who will take over power, with key players including the rather incompetent Dr Proudie, his fiendishly unpleasant wife and his slippery curate, Slope. This is a wonderfully rich novel, in which men and women are too shy to tell each other of their love; misunderstandings abound; and Church of England officials are only too willing to undermine each other in the battle for power.

The only autobiography by a major Victorian novelist, Trollope’s account offers a fascinating insight into his literary life and opinions. After a miserable childhood and misspent youth, Trollope turned his life around at the age of twenty-six. By 1860 the ‘hobbledehoy’ had become both a senior civil servant and a best-selling novelist. He worked for the Post Office for many years and stood unsuccessfully for Parliament. Best-known for the two series of novels grouped loosely around the clerical and political professions, the Barsetshire and Palliser series, in his Autobiography Trollope frankly describes his writing habits. His apparent preoccupation with contracts, deadlines, and earnings, and his account of the remorseless regularity with which he produced his daily quota of words, has divided opinion ever since.

Winchester offers a veritable feast of history, much of it unrecognised by twenty-first century visitors. This history of the Saxon capital of Wessex is told through evocative photographs of its buildings and intricate nooks and crannies. Brought to life with intriguing accounts are: St Catherine’s Hill, the site of a hill fort in 150 BC; the Peninsula Barracks, once a military establishment and now home to a range of museums; Winchester College, built in 1352, and its fourteenth-century gothic chapel; Winchester Cathedral, parts of which date from 1079; the resting place of novelist Jane Austen; the working water mill, still on its original medieval site; and King Arthur’s Round Table. Featuring a map showing points of interest, this is a must-read for locals and visitors alike.

To reserve ‘Heckfield: A Village History’ by Gordon Timmins, click here:

To reserve ‘History of a Hampshire Parish – Heckfield and Mattingley:

What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?…Was ever anything so civil?”

Anthony Trollope

Author of the Month: Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s novels are as diverse as his upbringing. Born in Hampshire in 1948, his childhood was a transient one, spent moving between east Asia, Germany and north Africa, following his father’s military postings. His similarly wide-roaming career has positioned him as one of Britain’s foremost literary voices. 

Whether penning eerie psychodramas or delicately wrought period pieces, what unites McEwan’s novels is an unerring curiosity about people. Whether the book’s key concern is personal or political, it is the intimate interpersonal relationships that provide their emotional core.  

McEwan’s career began with a penchant for the gothic. His first two novels The Cement Garden (1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1981) were released to uneasy admiration, with critic John Krewson describing the former as being “beautiful but disturbing”. Subsequent works went on to stray from this generic darkness and, in doing so, found a wider readership. After the divisive release of The Child In Time (1987), an unusual tale of time travel, cold-war era romance The Innocent (1990) was met with near-unanimous critical praise. 

The image shows the book cover of The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
The image shows the book cover of The Child in Time by Ian McEwan


It was his 1998 novel, Amsterdam, that marked a true popular breakthrough. The tale of love and death won him the Booker Prize, with critics praising its “sardonic and wise examination of the morals and culture of our time.” 

A popular candidate for adaptation, McEwan’s works have frequently been seen on screen. Joe Wright’s 2007 film Atonement, adapted from McEwan’s 2001 novel of the same name brings to life a confusion of sexuality, war and guilt, replicating the author’s ability to vividly capture a moment frozen in time and imbue it with sizzling heat.  

More recently, Man-Booker prize shortlisted On Chesil Beach (2007) was adapted into a 2017 film starring Saoirse Ronan. Once again McEwan’s meditations on desire in a repressive society of the past are proven to have a continuing contemporary appeal. This reliable appetite to see McEwan’s work reinvented speaks to his continued appeal to diverse audiences.  

With the ability to wheedle his way to the emotional heart of any story, regardless of how convoluted, McEwan brings his readers into an unfamiliar situation only to find relatable humanity. 

The image shows the book cover of On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The image shows the book cover of Atonement by Ian McEwan

These titles are also available to loan through our eBooks app, BorrowBox.

Written by Flora Pick

Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and moved to Britain at the age of five. His fiction has earned him many honours around the world, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Booker Prize. His novels have been translated into over fifty languages and The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go and The White Countess have been made into acclaimed films.

Ishiguro was awarded a knighthood in 2018 for Services to Literature, he also holds the decorations of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from Japan.

His novel An Artist of the Floating world was nominated for the Book Prize in 1986 and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award that same year.  In 1989 he won the Booker Prize for The Remains of the Day which later became an Oscar nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

His most recent novel Klara and the Sun explores the relationships between AI and humans as well as the enduring question of what it is to love. The Evening Standard says  “With its hushed intensity of emotion, this fable about robot love and loneliness confirms Ishiguro as a master prose stylist.”

Ishiguro doesn’t limit himself by genre or writing style, it is the unassuming, thoughtful prose which defines his work and draws the reader in with its intelligence and humanity. 

Books by Kazuo Ishiguro are also available to loan as eBooks, aAudio on the BorrowBox app.

Caryl Phillips

Caryl Phillips, born in St Kitts and brought up in Leeds, has written for television, radio, theatre, and cinema and is the author of three works of non-fiction and eight novels, including Crossing the River which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and an Honorary Fellow of Queens College, Oxford University, among his literary prizes and awards Phillips has won the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Fellowship, and Britain’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His novel A Distant Shore won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 Pen/Beyond the Margins Prize.

Much of his writing – both fiction and non-fiction – has focused on the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade and its consequences for the African Diaspora. The Final Passage (1985), his first novel – which won the Malcolm X Prize for Literature, is the story of a young woman who leaves her home in the Caribbean to start a new life with her husband and baby in 1950s London. His second novel, A State of Independence (1986), is set in the Caribbean and explores the islands’ growing dependency on America. Higher Ground (1989) consists of three narratives linking the lives of a West African slave, a member of the Black Panther movement and a Polish immigrant living in post-war Britain.

Cambridge (1991), his fourth novel, centres on the experiences of a young Englishwoman visiting her father’s plantation in the Caribbean and won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Crossing the River (1993) which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) and was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize, follows the separate stories of two brothers and a sister from slavery to a dislocated emancipation. The Nature of Blood (1997) draws parallels between the persecution of Jews in Europe and the black victims of slavery. His most recent novels are In the Falling Snow (2009), The Lost Child (2011), and A View of the Empire at Sunset (2018).

Caryl Phillips’ non-fiction includes a travel narrative, The European Tribe (1987), winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, and The Atlantic Sound (2000), an account of a journey he made to three hubs of the Atlantic slave trade: Liverpool, Elmina on the west coast of Ghana, and Charleston in the American South. In Colour Me English (2011), Phillips explores the notion of identity, how is constructed, thrust upon us, how we can change it.

Phillips is a writer who often appears most at home when he is away, journeying between places. Accordingly, he has remarked that he wishes to be ‘buried’ in the Atlantic, at the crossroads between Britain, Africa and the Caribbean.

Books by Caryl Phillips are available to reserve by clicking the book titles below or to loan as eBooks, eAudio on the BorrowBox app.

Jan Morris

The greatest distance travelled by Jan Morris, was not across the Earth’s surface but from being newspaper reporter James Morris to the female voyager and historian Jan Morris. The Guardian

James’ Morris post-war career as a journalist, writing for The Times and the Manchester Guardian, was balanced with time spent researching and writing travel books, with his unique voice as a travel writer first emerging in the publication of Venice in 1960.

Morris’ approach to travel writing hooked readers. His written voice always sounded certain, but his personal life was overshadowed by the knowledge that the male body of James was an error, and his true identity was female. With the support of his wife Elizabeth, he had reassignment surgery in 1972 and returned from clinic in Casablanca as Jan.

Morris had been denied surgery in the UK because the couple refused to divorce, and wrote in Conundrum (1974), which told most of the story, that the marriage had no right to work, “yet it worked like a dream, living testimony … of love in its purest sense over everything else”.

Morris’s exploration of sexual identities enhanced her trilogy on the social history of the British empire, Pax Britannica (1968), Heaven’s Command (1973) and Farewell the Trumpets (1978). Sometimes she made whimsical choices of subject, and of genre, especially the fantasy-fiction travelogue Last Letters From Hav (1985). Morris acknowledged the indulgence, adding that “the whole oeuvre of travel is one enormous ego-biography”, but the criticisms hurt.

She vowed several times to type no more but could not give up the daily practice of writing, which produced the inspired Fifty Years of Europe (1997), Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001), In My Mind’s Eye (2018), which was serialised on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and her final book Thinking Again which was published in 2020.

Upon her death, the lives of Jan and Elizabeth, with whom she had lived for many years as ‘sisters-in-law’ were marked with a memorial stone inscribed in English and Welsh which read: ‘Here are two friends… At the end of one life’

Books by Jan Morris are also available to loan as eBooks, aAudio on the BorrowBox app.

John le Carré

David John Moore Cornwell, better known as John le Carré, was the author of acclaimed espionage novels including Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People. During a brief career in the secret services his third novel, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1963), became an international best-seller and he left MI6 to become a full-time author. Many of his books have been adapted for film and television, including The Constant Gardner, which starred Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes.  

Although he began as an espionage writer, his works transcended the genre and he won widespread international acclaim as a humanitarian, as well as a literary heavyweight. In 2020 he won the Swedish Olof Palme Prize for “extraordinary contribution to the necessary fight for freedom, democracy and social justice.” and donated the $100,000 prize to Médecins Sans Frontières 

John le Carré’s last novel, Agent Running in the Field, was written ‘in a fever’ after the Referendum of 2016 and reflects on a generation of young men and women horrified by the current state of the country but with no movement to which they can attach themselves. Published to worldwide acclaim in October 2019 his last novel was as prescient about our contemporary divided world as his early novels had been about the Cold War. Le Carré died of pneumonia in 2020 at the age of 89.  

There are moments which are made up of too much stuff for them to be lived at the time they occur

John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Alec Leamas is tired. It’s the 1960s, he’s been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. Now Control wants to bring him in at last – but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, it may prove the worst thing he could ever have done. 

Tinkter, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

A mole, implanted by Moscow Centre, has infiltrated the highest ranks of the British Intelligence Service, almost destroying it in the process. And so former spymaster George Smiley has been brought out of retirement in order to hunt down the traitor at the very heart of the Circus – even though it may be one of those closest to him. 

The Constant Gardener

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Tessa Quayle, a brilliant and beautiful young social activist, has been found brutally murdered by Lake Turkana in Nairobi. The rumours are that she was faithless, careless, but her husband Justin, a reserved, garden-loving British diplomat, refuses to believe them. As he sets out to discover what really happened to Tessa, he unearths a conspiracy more disturbing, and more deadly, than he could ever have imagined.

The Little Drummer Girl

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Charlie, a brilliant and beautiful young actress, is lured into ‘the theatre of the real’ by an Israeli intelligence officer. Forced to play her ultimate role, she is plunged into a deceptive and delicate trap set to ensnare an elusive Palestinian terrorist. 

Agent Running in the Field

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age. 

“It’s the new millennium. People must be allowed to screw up
their lives as they see fit

John le Carré, The Constant Gardene

Head over to the BorrowBox app, or our online catalogue to browse all the amazing books written by John le Carré.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, born to an Igbo family, she grew up in Nsukka, Nigeria with her 5 siblings – with her being 5th youngest.
Both her parents worked at the university, her mother being the first female registrar there, and her childhood home was once the home of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s.

When she was 19 she left Nigeria to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Before arriving in the USA, the colour of her skin had never been an identifying feature her, but as race, as an idea, became something that she had to navigate and learn, she was confronted with what it meant to be black in the USA. A subject that can be found in many of her novels, and is especially prominent and dealt with in her 2013 novel Americanah.

Not surprising, Chinua Achebe was her original and initial inspiration to writing after reading his novel Things Fall Apart, at the age of 10. She has said she was inspired by seeing her own life represented in the pages of his book; something she is now passing on to new readers through her own books.

After initially writing poetry, and having her poetry collection Decisions published in 1997, she wrote the play For Love of Biafra in 1998. Followed by several short stories published in literary journals, and she went on winning various writing competitions. 
Her first novel, published in 2003, was  Purple Hibiscus; which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Soon followed by Half of a Yellow Sun in 2006, which won the Orange Prize, was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. Her maybe best known novel is the powerful story about love, race and identity; her 2013 novel Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. She was voted the Women’s Prize Winner of Winners in November 2020 and her work has been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker and the Financial Times. 

In her 2009 TED Talk, The Danger of A Single Story, she talks about how she found her authentic cultural voice, and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Her talk is one of the 24 most viewed TED Talks of all times. Her second TED Talk in 2012, We Should All Be Feminists, started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014. 

Her most recent physical book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,  contains practical advice and goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the 21st century. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, divides her time between Nigeria, where she regularly teaches writing workshops, and the United States. 

You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus

Available as an eBook and physical book

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved in mysterious ways with the unfolding political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to their aunt’s. Here she discovers love and a life – dangerous and heathen – beyond the confines of her father’s authority.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Available as a physical book

Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, this novel contains three main characters who get swept up in the violence during these turbulent years. It is about Africa, about the end of colonialism, about class and race, and the ways in which love can complicate these things.

The Thing Around Your Neck

Available as an eBook and physical book

The stories in this collection from Orange-Prize winner Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie straddle the cultures of Nigeria and the West. Her characters battle with the responsibilities of modern life, a world in which identity is too often compromised.


Available as an eBook and physical book

From the award-winning author of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, a powerful story of love, race and identity. As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race.

We Should All Be Feminists

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

What does ‘feminism’ mean today? That is the question at the heart of this personal, eloquently-argued essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’.

Dear Ijeawele: a feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions

Available as an eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

Adichie replies by letter to a friend’s request for help on how to bring up her newborn baby girl as a feminist. With its 15 pieces of practical advice, the text goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the 21st century.

The Arrangements: A Work of Fiction

Available as an eAudiobook

From one of our greatest writers, a short story about today’s befuddling political climate, an imaginary account of a day in the life of Melania Trump and a fictional glimpse into the lives of the strange family residing in Trump Tower.

Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Head over to the BorrowBox app, or our online catalogue to browse all the amazing books written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.