May 13, 2017

Litfest 2017: Saturday - Ric’s perspective (Part 1)

Describing herself as a feminist and journalist who had no desire to write a book, Anita Anand told us how her book, 'Sophia, Warrior Princess', was born of an embarrassment that she did not know the story of Sophia Duleep, the daughter of Duleep Singh, a Punjabi prince invited to England by Queen Victoria.  As it turned out, nobody else had really told Sophia's story and Anita's retelling of this socialite-cum-sufragette 'warrior princess' has made waves both in the UK and in India.

Anita described the back story of Sophia's family in India as being Game Of Thrones-esque, and I won't try to recount it here - you'll have to read the book to get all the details.  Sophia Duleep herself was, apparently, the first woman in Britain to ride a bicycle and enjoyed a kind of celebrity socialite status.  Yet she was inspired by the social injustice she saw in India and joined the sufragette movement in England.  Towards the end of her talk, Anita described the amazing scenes when this socialite sufragette bravely used her celebrity status to stop a fellow protester being beaten during the Black Friday riots.

My favourite line of Anita's was her description of Sophia as "a grenade of a woman."

A short while later I was at the Library for Richard Beard's Public Edit - the idea was that all writers attending were invited to submit a piece of work.  Richard then chose two at random and presented a critique from the stage, with the idea being that any in-depth edit of a writer's work is useful to other writers.

It was interesting to hear him explain how he developed this approach after observing classical musicians being taught in a similar way.  By concentrating on just a couple of texts, the editor is able to highlight specific examples in the text and this allows him to better demonstrate universal principles to the students.

I was lucky enough to have my piece chosen for edit, and it was really valuable to hear Richard's opinion.  It gave me some things to think about as regards my own work, and he was correct - certain elements he highlighted could be applied to any piece of work.