In Person Tickets
Getting Event Ticket Data
'An absorbing, intoxicating page-turner about a woman who deserves to be remembered.' Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne and Atalanta
Join us to launch a spellbinding, bold new retelling of the story of Lord Byron and the Shelleys, from the perspective of Claire Clairmont, the incredible woman that history tried to forget...
With Clairmont the formidable writer that is Lesley McDowell is finally back with a new novel, a fresh, feminist take on familiar literary ground and we can't wait to share it with fellow fans of historical fiction.
'Beautifully written, Clairmont tells the sensuous hidden story of an influential historic woman.' Sara Sheridan, author of The Fair Botanists
It's 1816. A massive volcanic eruption has caused the worst storms that Europe has seen in decades, yet Percy and Mary Shelley have chosen to visit the infamous Lord Byron at his villa on Lake Geneva. It wasn't their idea: Mary's eighteen year old step-sister, Claire Clairmont, insisted.
But the reason for Claire's visit is more pressing than a summer escape with the most famous writers in the world. She's pregnant with Byron's child - a child Byron doesn't want, and scarcely believes is his own.
Claire has the world in her grasp. This trip should have given her everything she ever dreamed of. But within days, her life will be in ruins.
History has all but forgotten her story - but she will not be silenced.
'An intimate and enlightening tale of one of Romanticism's forsaken muses - an artfully told story that lingers in the mind far beyond the last page' Susan Stokes-Chapman, author of Pandora
The author: Lesley McDowell’s debut novel The Picnic came out in 2007. In 2010 she published Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers, which was shortlisted for the non-fiction prize in the 2011 Scottish Book Awards. Her second novel Unfashioned Creatures, about Mary Shelley's Scottish childhood friend, was published in 2013. Lesley was a literary critic for The Herald, The Scotsman, The Independent, TLS and others. She has a PhD on the work of James Joyce, and has won three Creative Scotland writers' bursaries. Clairmont is her third novel.
Our excellent chair is Lee Randall, a freelance book festival programmer with more than 30 years experience in book publishing and media.