Lavinia Greenlaw - Author

About the Author

Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London where she has lived for most of her life. She studied seventeenth-century art at the Courtauld Institute, and was awarded a NESTA fellowship to pursue her interest in vision, travel and perception. Her poetry includes Minsk, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes. She has also published novels and works of non-fiction which include The Importance of Music to Girls and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland. She has won a number of prizes and held residencies at the Science Museum and the Royal Society of Medicine. Her work for BBC radio includes programmes about the Arctic, the Baltic, Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop.

Featured books by Lavinia Greenlaw

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/03/2014

Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2014. When Chaucer composed Troilus and Criseyde he gave us, some say, his finest poem, and with it one of the most captivating love stories ever written. A Double Sorrow, Lavinia Greenlaw's new work, takes its title from the opening line of that poem in a fresh telling of this most tortured of love affairs. Set against the Siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father has defected to the Greeks and has persuaded them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. In an attempt to save her, Troilus suggests that Criseyde flees the besieged city with him, but she knows that she will be universally condemned and looks instead to a temporary measure: pretending to submit to the exchange, while promising Troilus that she will return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks she soon realises the impossibility of her promise to Troilus, and in despair succumbs to another. Lavinia Greenlaw's pinpoint retelling of this heart-wrenching tale is neither a translation nor strictly a 'version' of Chaucer's work, but instead creates something new: a sequence of glimpses from the medieval poem that refine the psychological drama of the classical story through a process of detonation or amplification of image and phrase into original poems. In a series of skillfully crafted seven-line vignettes, the author creates a zoetrope that serves to illuminate the intensity with which these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read -contemporary and timeless - that builds into an unforgettable telling of this most heartbreaking of love stories.

Other books by Lavinia Greenlaw

In the City of Love's Sleep

In the City of Love's Sleep

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/09/2018

Iris, a museum conservator in her late forties, is separating from her husband while bringing up two daughters in a house that's falling down. Raif is a stalled academic, as uncertain of the past as he is the future, whose girlfriend is about to move in. They meet by chance, nothing important is said, yet Iris turns away and starts to run. She is running from what this encounter has woken in her. In the City of Love's Sleep is a contemporary fable about what it means to fall in love in middle age. It charts the steps two people take towards one another and what it means to have taken those steps before.

A Double Sorrow A Version of Troilus and Criseyde

A Double Sorrow A Version of Troilus and Criseyde

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/07/2018

The captivating love story of ill-fated Troilus and Criseyde, first popularized by Chaucer's poem in the 1380s, is one of the most enduring stories of the English language. In A Double Sorrow, award-winning poet Lavinia Greenlaw breathes fresh life into the medieval tale through a series of seven-line stanzas, which mimic the form of Chaucer's original poem. Set during the siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of the Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father defects to the Greeks and persuades them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. Troilus suggests that Criseyde flee with him, but she knows she will be universally condemned and instead pretends to submit to the exchange while promising Troilus that she will find a way to return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks, she soon realizes the impossibility of her promise to Troilus and in despair succumbs to another. In this series of skillfully crafted poetic vignettes, Greenlaw illuminates each small but irrevocable step as these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read, contemporary and timeless.

The Importance of Music to Girls

The Importance of Music to Girls

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/03/2017

If I had not kissed anyone, or danced with anyone, or had a reason to cry, the music made me feel as if I had gone through all that anyway . . . the music attracted and repelled, organised and disturbed and then let us into the night, clusters of emotion ready to dissolve into sleep. In The Importance of Music to Girls, Lavinia Greenlaw tells the story of the adventures that music leads us into: getting drunk, falling in love, dying of boredom, cutting our hair, terrifying our parents, wanting to change the world. This is a vivid memoir unlike any other, recalling the furious passion of being young, female, and coming alive through music.

Questions of Travel William Morris in Iceland

Questions of Travel William Morris in Iceland

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/02/2017

Morris's intimate journals, written for a friend, unconsciously explore questions of travel, noting his reaction to the idea of leaving or arriving, to hurry and delay, what it means to dread a place you've never been to or to encounter the actuality of a long-held vision. Poet Lavinia Greenlaw draws out these questions as she follows in the footprints of Morris's prose, responding to its surfaces and undercurrents, extending its horizons. The result is a new and composite work, which brilliantly explores our conflicted reasons for not staying at home.

Night Photograph

Night Photograph

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2016

Galileo's wife, a young woman dying of radium poisoning, the first dog in space, a strangely obsessed concert pianist, an early beneficiary of plastic surgery, and a Russian boy whose adventures are sadly limited by the immature powers of the child who has conjured him up are just some of the figures encompassed by Lavinia Greenlaw's imagination. The poet's level gaze as she contemplates the more bizarre aspects of science and of human behaviour lends further distinction to this, her first collection.

A World Where News Travelled Slowly

A World Where News Travelled Slowly

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2016

Lavinia Greenlaw's first collection, Night Photograph, made an immediately favourable impact. Her second collection, A World Where News Travelled Slowly explores more local and personal matters. Its central theme is the unpredictable act of communication, from the mechanical to the miraculous. There are also poems that are concerned with attempts at preservation - plundered relics, the stately home, an iron lung. This volume serves to confirm the gifts Lavinia Greenlaw showed in her first book.

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/01/2015

Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Poetry Award. When Chaucer composed Troilus and Criseyde he gave us, some say, his finest poem, and with it one of the most captivating love stories ever written. A Double Sorrow, Lavinia Greenlaw's new work, takes its title from the opening line of that poem in a fresh telling of this most tortured of love affairs. Set against the Siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father has defected to the Greeks and has persuaded them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. In an attempt to save her, Troilus suggests that Criseyde flees the besieged city with him, but she knows that she will be universally condemned and looks instead to a temporary measure: pretending to submit to the exchange, while promising Troilus that she will return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks she soon realises the impossibility of her promise to Troilus, and in despair succumbs to another. Lavinia Greenlaw's pinpoint retelling of this heart-wrenching tale is neither a translation nor strictly a 'version' of Chaucer's work, but instead creates something new: a sequence of glimpses from the medieval poem that refine the psychological drama of the classical story through a process of detonation or amplification of image and phrase into original poems. In a series of skillfully crafted seven-line vignettes, the author creates a zoetrope that serves to illuminate the intensity with which these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read -contemporary and timeless - that builds into an unforgettable telling of this most heartbreaking of love stories.

1914-Goodbye to All That Writers on the Conflict Between Life and Art

1914-Goodbye to All That Writers on the Conflict Between Life and Art

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw, Ali Smith, Ales Steger, Jeanette Winterson Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2014

A wide-ranging collection of reflective essays, to mark the centenary of the conflict that changed the world. In this collection of essays, ten leading writers from different countries consider the conflicts that have informed their own literary lives. 1914-Goodbye to All That borrows its title from Robert Graves's bitter leave-taking of England in which he writes not only of the First World War but the questions it raised: how to live, how to live with each other, and how to write. Interpreting this title as broadly and ambiguously as Graves intended, these essays mark the War's centenary by reinvigorating these questions. The book includes Elif Shafak on an inheritance of silence in Turkey, Ali Smith on lost voices in Scotland, Xiaolu Guo on the 100,000 Chinese sent to the Front, Daniel Kehlmann on hypnotism in Berlin, Colm Toibin on Lady Gregory losing her son fighting for Britain as she fought for an independent Ireland, Kamila Shamsie on reimagining Karachi, Erwin Mortier on occupied Belgium's legacy of shame, NoViolet Bulawayo on Zimbabwe and clarity, Ales Steger on resisting history in Slovenia, and Jeanette Winterson on what art is for. Contributors include: Ali Smith - Scotland Ales Steger - Slovenia Jeanette Winterson - England Elif Shafak - Turkey NoViolet Bulawayo - Zimbabwe Colm Toibin - Ireland Xiaolu Guo - China Erwin Mortier - Belgium Kamila Shamsie - Pakistan Daniel Kehlmann - Germany 'Tender, compassionate humanity' Peter Conrad, Observer 'A global gathering of essayists here reimagine the war from a variety of vantage points' Guardian 'This superb collection of essays by some of today's leading writers stands out among the many books commissioned to mark the centenary of the First World War.' The Lady Lavinia Greenlaw's poetry includes The Casual Perfect and A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde. Other works include The Importance of Music to Girls and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland. She was the first artist-in-residence at the Science Museum, and received the Ted Hughes Award for her sound work Audio Obscura. Her work for BBC radio includes documentaries about Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, the darkest place in England and Arctic light.

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

A Double Sorrow Troilus and Criseyde

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/03/2014

Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2014. When Chaucer composed Troilus and Criseyde he gave us, some say, his finest poem, and with it one of the most captivating love stories ever written. A Double Sorrow, Lavinia Greenlaw's new work, takes its title from the opening line of that poem in a fresh telling of this most tortured of love affairs. Set against the Siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father has defected to the Greeks and has persuaded them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. In an attempt to save her, Troilus suggests that Criseyde flees the besieged city with him, but she knows that she will be universally condemned and looks instead to a temporary measure: pretending to submit to the exchange, while promising Troilus that she will return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks she soon realises the impossibility of her promise to Troilus, and in despair succumbs to another. Lavinia Greenlaw's pinpoint retelling of this heart-wrenching tale is neither a translation nor strictly a 'version' of Chaucer's work, but instead creates something new: a sequence of glimpses from the medieval poem that refine the psychological drama of the classical story through a process of detonation or amplification of image and phrase into original poems. In a series of skillfully crafted seven-line vignettes, the author creates a zoetrope that serves to illuminate the intensity with which these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read -contemporary and timeless - that builds into an unforgettable telling of this most heartbreaking of love stories.

The Casual Perfect

The Casual Perfect

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/03/2013

If Lavinia Greenlaw's Minsk was about home, her new collection tests the proximities of elsewhere, 'the circle round our house', the road between two lives. Its title recalls a phrase of Robert Lowell's to describe Elizabeth Bishop -- one of the book's presiding spirits, with her insistence on the provisional, on the moment in which perception is formed, on landscape as action rather than description. The Casual Perfect continues Lavinia Greenlaw's explorations of light and the borders of vision, which include a journey to the four corners of Britain to observe the solstices and equinoxes, and a cycle about the East Anglian landscape which is nine-tenths sky. Questions of travel hover around many of these poems, or questions which need to be 'travelled fully' rather than answered -- and which involve the overheard and the glimpsed, what is gleaned from traces and external signs. The result is a collection that is under-stated, spare but inclusive, which invites our presence as readers.

William Morris in Iceland: Questions of Travel

William Morris in Iceland: Questions of Travel

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/09/2011

Lavinia Greenlaw's selection from Morris's Icelandic Journal ('the best book of travel written by an English poet', and the least known) is interposed with her own 'questions of travel', which follow the footprints of Morris's prose, responding to its surfaces and undercurrents, extending its horizons. The result is a new and composite work, which brilliantly explores our conflicted reasons for not staying at home.

The Casual Perfect

The Casual Perfect

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/09/2011

If Lavinia Greenlaw's Minsk was about home, her new collection tests the proximities of elsewhere, 'the circle round our house', the road between two lives. Its title recalls a phrase of Robert Lowell's to describe Elizabeth Bishop -- one of the book's presiding spirits, with her insistence on the provisional, on the moment in which perception is formed, on landscape as action rather than description. The Casual Perfect continues Lavinia Greenlaw's explorations of light and the borders of vision, which include a journey to the four corners of Britain to observe the solstices and equinoxes, and a cycle about the East Anglian landscape which is nine-tenths sky. Questions of travel hover around many of these poems, or questions which need to be 'travelled fully' rather than answered -- and which involve the overheard and the glimpsed, what is gleaned from traces and external signs. The result is a collection that is under-stated, spare but inclusive, which invites our presence as readers.

Audio Obscura

Audio Obscura

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/07/2011

Ten Poets: UEA Poetry

Ten Poets: UEA Poetry

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw, George Szirtes, UEA Students Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/11/2010

The Importance of Music to Girls

The Importance of Music to Girls

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/08/2008

The Importance of Music to Girls tells the story of the adventures that music leads us into - getting drunk, falling in love, cutting our hair, wanting to change the world - as well as the darker side of the adolescent years: loneliness, bullying, getting arrested. Lavinia Greenlaw remembers the music that inspired and accompanied her, and compelled her generation. From fancying Donny Osmond, to wanting to be Ian Curtis, this is a razor-sharp memoir, filtered through the medium of music.

Minsk

Minsk

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2004

A POETRY BOOK SOCIETY RECOMMENDATION Minsk, Lavinia Greenlaw's third collection, was shortlisted for the 2003 Whitbread Poetry Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Collection. From London Zoo to an Essex village and the Arctic Circle, Greenlaw explores questions of place - the childhood landscapes we leave behind, those we travel towards, and those like 'Minsk' which we believe to be missing from our lives. Greenlaw's restless, inquisitive tone builds to make Minsk a hypnotic collection from one of the leading poets of her generation.

Chess Girls, The (Afternoon Play)

Chess Girls, The (Afternoon Play)

Author: Lavinia Greenlaw Format: eBook Release Date: 01/01/1970

The emergence of the Polgar sisters in the 1970s and 80s rocked the chess world. In a heavily male dominated game, the three Hungarian girls broke record after record. The youngest, Judit, was talked of as a potential world champion. The Chess Girls is the story of their parents, Laszlo and Klara Polgar, and how they defied the Communist authorities to conduct a remarkable educational experiment. Laszlo Polgar, convinced that any healthy child can be trained to become a genius, set out to prove his theory with his own children. This is a drama-documentary with excerpts from an interview with Laszlo and Klara Polgar recorded for the play. The writer, Lavinia Greenlaw, takes their account and re-creates the lives of the young Polgar family in their tiny Budapest flat. The fictional Laszlo is played by Kerry Shale, and Klara by Sally Orrock. Director: Chris Ledgard.

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