Venue: The Bowling Green.

Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including the Booker Prize-shortlisted Daughters of the House, and 2013’s Ignorance, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She has also published a memoir, poetry and short stories. Half-English and half-French, Michèle Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

Michèle Roberts’ new novel, The Walworth Beauty is a sensuous, evocative exploration of the lives of women in Victorian London.

It tells the story of Madeleine who, in 2011, loses her job and decides to move to Apricot Place, a quiet Walworth cul-de-sac where she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life.

Meanwhile, in 1851, Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. As he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house.

As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past and present, the two eras brush against each other. Rendered in immediate, intoxicating prose, The Walworth Beauty is a haunting tale of desire and exploitation, isolation and loss, and the faltering search for human connection.