Writing Jewish Women's Lives with Natasha Walter: Literary Salon 2

Writing Jewish Women's Lives with Natasha Walter

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Tuesday 21 November, 2pm-3.30pm

The Buttery, Wolfson College and online via Zoom

Free; open to all.

Advance bookings have now closed. To attend in person, please just turn up at Wolfson College. To attend online please email admin.oclw@wolfson.ox.ac.uk for the link.

Part of the Vera Fine-Grodzinski Programme for Writing Jewish Women's Lives

At the core of OCLW's new programme on Writing Jewish Women's Lives, our new series of afternoon literary salons are a chance to discuss books by and about Jewish women. The two sessions in Michaelmas term will be led by author Rebecca Abrams, on the theme 'Into the Darkness, Towards the Light: Jewish women’s lives beyond the Holocaust'.

On 7 November we will dive into a range of literature, with extracts provided in advance to aid discussion.

On 21 November we welcome writer and campaigner Natasha Walter who will be in conversation with Rebecca about her new book Before the Light Fades: A Memoir of Grief and Resistance, which is one of several works that will have been discussed at the first salon. We will also be joined by a bookseller on the 21st, from whom you can buy the book and others relevant to the programme.

You can sign up to one session or both.

Natasha Walter's new book, Before the Light Fades: A Memoir of Grief and Resistance, explores the aftermath of her mother's suicide and traces her family's legacy of political activism in 1960s Britain and 1930s Germany. Through this history, she asks what it takes to stay engaged and hopeful even at times of political and personal despair.

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i)               Before the Light Fades by Natasha Walter (Virago 2023)


British feminist author Natasha Walter combines memoir and family history in her exploration of the life and troubling legacy of her political activist Jewish mother, and the hidden causes of her death from suicide in her early 50s.

 – published August 2023 – NW’s publicist at Virago is Grace Vincent.

Rebecca Abrams

Abrams teaches creative and academic writing at Oxford University, where she is a core tutor on the Masters in Creative Writing and teaches literature and creative writing at Keble College and Wadham College. She is the author of seven works of fiction and non-fiction and a verse play, The Pied Piper of Covid.  Her debut novel, Touching Distance was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize for Literature and won the MJA Open Book Award for Medical Fiction. Her most recent work of non-fiction, The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 objects from the Ashmolean Museum, has been described as ‘a celebration of Jewish life in all its worldly immensity - a tribute to the cosmopolitan ideals of Stefan Zweig.’ She is also the co-editor of Jewish Treasures From Oxford Libraries, currently long-listed for the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize.

Natasha Walter


Walter is also the author of The New Feminism; Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, and A Quiet Life, a novel inspired by the life of Melinda Maclean. She has been Junior Teaching Fellow at the Department for Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University, and Visiting Professor of Women's Rights at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University. She has worked as a journalist and columnist for the Guardian and Observer. She is the founder and was for 15 years the director of the charity Women for Refugee Women, an organisation that supports women seeking asylum in the UK and enables them to tell their own stories and campaign for justice. Walter is currently writing a book about feminism and the climate emergency, to be published in 2025.

This year, OCLW's Co-Director Dr Kate Kennedy will be introducing a new programme, focussed on Writing Jewish Women's Lives. It will be launched on Tuesday 17 October 2023 with a full day Colloquium, ending with the film Across the Land and the Water by Barbara Loftus, the painter and film maker, who has retraced the journey of her family to England.

Following the colloquium, the new programme will host regular 'Literary Salons' during Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity terms, inviting speakers to explore and research Jewish women's voices as part of social and cultural history. In Michaelmas 2023, the salons will take place on 7 and 21 November.

This exciting venture is the first at any academic institution in the UK, and possibly abroad. It is open to all -- academics and the general public alike.