Nell Stevens has a First in English and Creative Writing from Warwick, after which she went on to study Arabic and Comparative Literature at Harvard, and to receive a Marcia Trimble Fellowship and the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award for her MFA in Fiction at Boston University. She is currently researching a Ph.D. in Victorian literature at King's College London. She was a finalist in the 2011 Elle magazine Writing Talent Contest, and a runner-up in both the 2014 Mslexia Memoir Competition and the 2015 Mslexia Short Story Prize.
A ravishing riff on the real-life relationship between writer George Sand and composer Frédéric Chopin, Nell Stevens’ Briefly, A Delicious Life glows with Mediterranean heat, avant-garde verve, and a yearning that burns. Set in 1838, and narrated by Blanca, the ghost of a witty, whip-smart fourteen-year-old girl who died in a Mallorca monastery in 1473, this character-driven charmer is suffused in beauty, and casts a captivating spell. Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children have travelled to a monastery in Mallorca to convalesce and create. Sand is a striking woman in man’s clothes, whose arrival incites a stir on the island as it stirs Blanca’s heart and desires. As the unconventional couple struggle with the villagers’ judgements, and to find creative satisfaction, Blanca recounts her story, her experiences of falling for the beauty of women. And now she’s in love with Sand, who doesn’t know she exists, and cannot reciprocate. This wildly inventive scenario plays out ingeniously — though outlandish, through Blanca’s age-old wisdom and youthful spirit, and through the visual, sensual language, it feels real. We see and sense flurries of birds and leaves. We feel the prickle and heat of flesh and the sun. What a moving, magical, hauntingly memorable story.
'My favourite debut of 2017 ...as funny as it is poignant' Lena Dunham When Nell Stevens was given the opportunity to spend three months in a location of her choice in order to write her novel, she was determined to rid herself of all distractions. So Nell decided to travel to Bleaker Island (official population: two) in the Falklands where she would write 2,500 words a day. But Bleaker House is not that novel. Instead this is a book about a young woman realising that the way to writing fiction doesn't necessarily lie in total solitude and a clear plan. Nor does it lie in a daily ration of 1085 calories, no means of contacting the outside world and a slow descent towards something that feels worryingly like madness ...
In 1857, after two years of writing The Life of Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell fled England for Rome on the eve of publication. The project had become so fraught with criticism, with different truths and different lies, that Mrs Gaskell couldn't stand it any more. She threw her book out into the world and disappeared to Italy with her two eldest daughters. In Rome she found excitement, inspiration, and love: a group of artists and writers who would become lifelong friends, and a man - Charles Norton - who would become the love of Mrs Gaskell's life, though they would never be together. In 2013, Nell Stevens is embarking on her Ph.D. - about the community of artists and writers living in Rome in the mid-nineteenth century - and falling drastically in love with a man who lives in another city. As Nell chases her heart around the world, and as Mrs Gaskell forms the greatest connection of her life, these two women, though centuries apart, are drawn together. Mrs Gaskell and Me is about unrequited love and the romance of friendship, it is about forming a way of life outside the conventions of your time, and it offers Nell the opportunity - even as her own relationship falls apart - to give Mrs Gaskell the ending she deserved.