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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.
'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 ...
Winner of the 2019 Somerset Maugham Award 'A great galloping joy of a book - funny, lyrical, fast paced, heart-warming - a delicious celebration of love and life' Rebecca Stott, author of In the Days of Rain In 1857, Elizabeth Gaskell set sail for Rome, a city that would prove to be a place of inspiration and love: she would make enduring friendships, and meet a man - Charles Norton - who would become the love of her life. In 2013, Nell Stevens is writing about Mrs Gaskell in Rome, and falling drastically in love with a man who lives in another city altogether. 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, and for Nell, Mrs Gaskell becomes more than a figure from the past. Here is a confidante, a friend, a woman who - living outside the conventions of her time - might have some wisdom to offer Nell. 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.
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.
'Perfect' Lena Dunham 'This year's literary sensation' Evening Standard How far would you travel to become a writer? 8000 miles from home 1085 calories a day 3 months to write the novel that would make her name At least that was the plan. But when Nell Stevens travelled to Bleaker Island in the Falklands (official population: two) she didn't count on the isolation getting to her . . . Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a book about loneliness and creativity. It is about discovering who you are when there's no one else around. And it's about what to do when a plan doesn't work: ultimately Nell may have failed to write a novel, but she succeeded in becoming a writer.
A girl, a laptop, and a waddle of penguins. In this witty and genre-defying memoir, a young writer can travel anywhere she wants to finally finish her noveland ends up on a frozen island at the bottom of the world. Twenty-seven-year-old Nell Stevens was determined to write a novel, but life kept getting in the way. Then came a game-changing opportunity: she won a fellowship that would let her live, all expenses paid, anywhere in the world to research and write a book. Would she choose a glittering metropolis, a romantic village, an exotic paradise? Not exactly. Nell picked Bleaker Island, a snowy, windswept pile of rock in the Falklands. There, in a guesthouse where she would be the only guest, she could finally rid herself of distractions and write. Before the spring thaw, surely she'd have a novel. And indeed, other than sheep, penguins, paranoia, and the weather, there aren't many distractions on Bleaker. Nell gets to work on a charming Dickensian fiction she calls Bleaker Houseonly to discover that total isolation and 1,085 calories a day are far from ideal conditions for literary production. With deft humor, the memoir traces Nell's island days and slowly reveals details of the life and people she has left behind in pursuit of her writing. They pop up in her novel, too, and in other fictional pieces that dot the book. It seems that there is nowhere Nell can runan island or the pages of her notebookto escape the big questions of love, art and ambition. Terrifically smart, full of wry writing advice, and with a clever puzzle of a structure, Bleaker House marks the arrival of a fresh new voice in creative nonfiction.