Michelle Lovric 

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Updated the first week of each month.



October news


The Mourning Emporium, sequel to The Undrowned Child, will be published on October 28th.  A new section of this website, all about the background to the book, will be launched on October 13th.



Some bookshop windows in the UK will make special displays for the publication of The Mourning Emporium, as pictured at left. The displays include various elements from the story: an old photo of Venice enveloped in snow, pirate money, a black bat, paper memorials to Queen Victoria, Mourning Liquorice, a skeleton and a signpost for Tristesse & Ganorus’ Mansion Dolorous, the mourning emporium of the book’s title.

There’s a new page in the children’s section of this site, where you can hear the actress Lucy Scott reading from the audio version of The Undrowned Child.

There’s a new review of The Undrowned Child on the influential Cornflower literary blog.



Diary dates

Mary Hoffman and Michelle Lovric will be talking about ways to write about Venice and Italy in fiction at the Ilkley Festival on October 10th.


City-pick Venice evening. (See below, re new writing). It’s cold, it’s winter, it’s dreary. You’d rather be at the Venice Carnival, dreaming in a gondola or just sitting in a very special Venetian café ... Join Oxygen Publishers and Fictional Cities’ Jeff Cotton for a celebration of all things Venetian, with readings, discussions, samplings and competitions on Wednesday November 10th, 7.45 – 9.30pm, at Brentwood Library, New Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4BP. Tickets are free but ring 01277 264290 as places are limited.


Michelle Lovric has been invited to take part in a series of events with authors who write about Italy.



The series, curated by Maxim Jakubowski, will feature eight leading English-speaking writers in conversation, discussing why they so often write about Italy, Italians and Italian culture.

The warm love affair between British and American writers and Italian literature and culture is a treasured relationship that goes back several centuries, and this will prove an invaluable occasion to examine its contemporary relevance and examples, as writers like Sarah Dunant, Iain Pears, Michelle Lovric, Lindsey Davis, David Hewson, Donna Leon, Tobias Jones and Maxim Jakubowski will appear in conversation with critic Barry Forshaw, author Lauren Henderson and Maxim Jakubowski to discuss their appreciation of all things Italian.

Expect revelations, surprises and intimate confessions!

September 27th SARAH DUNANT with Maxim Jakubowski
October 111th IAIN PEARS with Barry Forshaw
November 15th MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI with Barry Forshaw
December 6th MICHELLE LOVRIC with Maxim Jakubowski
January 17th LINDSEY DAVIS with Lauren Henderson
February 21st DAVID HEWSON with Barry Forshaw
DONNA LEON with Maxim Jakubowski (specific date in April to be advised)
May 9th  TOBIAS JONES with Lauren Henderson

All talks begin at 7pm. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.


Contact: Anna Mondavio Tel. 020 7396 4409 anna.mondavio@esteri.it

Italian Cultural Institute 39, Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX



New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about why The Mourning Emporium has such a medicinal flavour at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, September 18th.

(Wikio has recently rated ABBA as the sixth-most influential literary blog in the UK.)

Her next ABBA blog will be on October 18th.


Michelle Lovric has contributed three pieces on modern-day life in a floating city to Oxygen Books’ new title in their acclaimed City-Pick series. City-Pick Venice, edited by Heather Reyes, is published on November 4th. It has a foreword by Jeff Cotton from www.fictionalcities.com


October books


Leila Rasheed, The World Turned Upside Down.

This book was commissioned by the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival in late 2009/ early 2010. Their idea was to publish a special novel as part of the festival, on the theme of ‘Hidden Stratford’, also the subject of a photographic exhibition. The cover was designed by Alex Pritchard, a local art student aged 16, as part of a competition run by the festival.

Copies are available from Annie Ashworth at the festival website: www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk


Linda Strachan, Spider

Emma Donoghue, Room

Blake Morrison, The Last Weekend

Simonetta Agnello Hornby, The Almond Picker

Joanne Harris, Blueeyedboy

Horatio Brown, Life in the Lagoons, 1904 edition

Montague Summers, The Geography of Witchcraft, 1927

E. P. Evans, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, 1906

Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution





September news

Here’s the first review for The Mourning Emporium. It’s by Jill Murphy on the Bookbag website.

An extract:

It's as rousing and vivid a book as its predecessor - on the surface is a mix of swashbuckling and humour, but underlying the action is some truly awesome research and a vocabulary-busting turn of phrase. Once again, the supporting cast adds sparkle after sparkle. I was most glad to reacquaint myself with Venice's curry-loving, salty-tongued mermaids and I shared their disgust in their London counterparts - languid, fussy, uptight melusines they are, addled on Victorian London's various quackeries …Turtledove, a kindhearted, orphan-saving, talking bulldog, was my other favourite. He's as memorable as any Narnian creation. There are ghosts, talking animals, pirates, orphans, heroes and villains in world "between the linings", but there's also a vivid and utterly accurate historical picture of London and Venice at the time. There's pace and tension, and there's a genuine and robust sense of humour underlying it.

And Sue Chambers, of the Harrods in-store bookshop, posted this on the Waterstones website:

This is the sequel to The Undrowned Child a book that I sell in Waterstones in Harrods by the dozen - I received the proof of this second book a few days ago and felt that EVERYONE should be aware of this addition to the Teodora & Renzo's adventures...it seems that Tiepolo is moving again...in more ways than one...
I was laughing out loud on the tube this morning...and I am gripped once again by Michelle Lovric's depiction of Venice & evil and am waiting impatiently for my lunch break to return to Venice, Teo, Renzo...mermaids, cats and the rest...
Everyone who has been to Venice, should and must read The Undrowned Child and then preorder this sequel..... Those that haven't been should visit and take The Undrowned Child with them...


And there’s a new review of The Book of Human Skin on Suite 101.

An extract:

It would be possible to go on and on about this book, as it has many layers, including social, cultural, religious and familial aspects throughout its 476 pages. It is breathtaking, uncomfortable, and exceptionally unique in the contemporary canon of literature.

Caroline Ash has reviewed The Book of Human Skin alongside the SKIN exhibition at the Wellcome Trust in London, in SCIENCE, August13th issue.

Here’s an extract:  

The exhibition [Skin, at the Wellcome Collection until 26 September 2010] comprehensively illustrates Lovric’s book. Skin is the main character in her comic, gothic horror story: a black’n’white, good’n’evil story. The distinctive skins of the five voices of the book are constantly on display, even depicted by different typefaces on the paper skins of the book. As his own erupts in crops of maggoty pimples, the garrulous Minguillo Fasan pursues an obsessive desire to torment his beautiful and pusillanimous sister, Marcella, almost, but not quite, to the point of death. In balancing the evil characters, the other crazed lunatic, Sor Loreta, is determined to toy with her own life and masochistically destroys her skin in her madly competitive desire to appear holier than thou. And then there is the all-too-necessary resectioning of skin that the sympathetic young surgeon Dr Santo Aldobrandini has to practise, not to mention the bruises, wounds, diseases and other evidence of grotesque abuse witnessed by the noble servant Gianni delle Boccole. Nevertheless, the appalling Minguillo Fasan apparently has some redeeming characteristics: his love of his Venetian palazzo and of his books. As the story peels apart, this passion for books is revealed to be yet another grotesque compulsion, but one that rather satisfyingly supplies his nemesis. The author artfully implies this is not a nice book, and as she pulls us in, horrified and intrigued, we, the readers, become complicit in Fasan’s crimes. Indeed, it’s a truly nasty book …The exhibition and Lovric’s novel each make it plain that skin is the principal component of our identity, both hiding and betraying our inner selves.

 For information on the Skin exhibition  at the Wellcome, see here.


 An audio edition of The Undrowned Child, read by Lucy Scott, will be released this month by Oakhill Publishing. The package includes more than 12 hours of drama and adventure over 10 cds.




And here is the jacket design of the Polish edition of The Undrowned Child, published this month by Jaguar.


 Diary dates

Mary Hoffman and Michelle Lovric will be talking about ways to fictionalize Venice and Italy at the Ilkley Festival on October 10th.

Michelle Lovric will be interviewed by Maxim Jakubowski on living and writing Venice at the Italian Cultural Institute on December 6th.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog on Madonnas and cats

on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, August 13th.

 Her next ABBA blog will be on September 18th.


Venice news


An enterprising Venetian dentist has launched the idea of dental holidays in la Serenissima. Studio Barchitta will not only check your teeth but help you find accommodation and sort out your travel.

email info@studiobarchitta.com

Tel 00 39 338 972 9761


 September book recommendations

An unusual new guide to Venice is published this month: Secret Venice by Thomas Jonglez and Paola Zoffoli. There’s more information about the book on this website.

 Mary Hoffman, Troubadour

David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Andrea Levy, The Long Song

Louise Doughty, Whatever You Love

The Book of Human Skin in
the window of the Mondadori
Bookshop in Venice


August news

There’s a long review for The Book of Human Skin here

Other new reviews here

And here


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog on Five Forms of Howler on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, July 9th



Reminder - Edinburgh Festival

Bookings are now open for the August 21st event in which Michelle Lovric and Katie Hickman, author of The Pindar Diamond, will be in conversation about the art of writing about Venice

Saturday  August 21st 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The festival website is here.


On August 6th, Better Bankside will be holding a book swap event in the Union Street Urban Orchard. Simply bring along a book you've already read and pick up a new one absolutely free. These include signed copies of novels by local author Michelle Lovric: The Book of Human Skin, The Undrowned Child and The Remedy, which is partly set in Bankside.

The orchard is open all summer long and is the perfect place to while away your lunch hour with a good book.

12.00noon - 2.00pm

  • Union Street Urban Orchard
100 Union Street

For more information contact 0207 928 3998


August books

Peter Walker, The Courier's Tale

Emily Barr, The Perfect Lie

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna



July 2010

The Book of Human Skin has just been published in Canada by Penguin.

Read the first review here.




Wellcome Collection | June 10th–September 26th 2010


Michelle Lovric will present an event about her novel, The Book of Human Skin, at the Wellcome Collection on Saturday July 3rd at 2.30pm.

She will also lead a personal guided tour of the exhibition on Wednesday July 28th at 2pm.

Admission to both events is free, but it is advisable to pre-book an e-ticket for the July 3rd lecture here

Signed copies of The Book of Human Skin are now available at the Blackwell bookshop at the Wellcome Collection.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about conversation in life and books, on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, June 5th.

Her next blog for ABBA will be July 9th.

Venice news

On June 15th, exactly seven hundred years after the conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo, a group of Venetians and foreigners gathered in Campo Sant’Agostin to mark the anniversary. A toast was made to the failure of Baiamonte’s plot to assassinate the Doge and set up a dictatorship in Venice. The weather was historically correct: unseasonable rain and wind – just like on the night Baiamonte was defeated. A descendant of Baiamonte’s intended victim, Doge Pietro Gradenigo, flew in from America for the occasion. Derrick Gradney is pictured here at a Baiamonte dinner at the Hotel Monaco, alongside Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini, who organised the two conferences about the conspiracy in Venice this Spring, and who is the guiding spirit behind Venezia Civiltà Anfibia (see News for February 2010)

Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini has written the script for a dramatized account of the conspiracy, which will take place in Venice on July 4th at the Telecom Futures Centre in Campo San Salvador at 9pm.


Edinburgh Festival

Bookings are now open for the August 21st event in which Michelle Lovric and Katie Hickman, author of The Pindar Diamond, will be in conversation about the art of writing about Venice

Saturday  August 21st 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The festival website is here.


July books

Laurie Graham’s eagerly awaited new novel, At Sea, is published by Quercus this month. Read more about it here.

Nina G. Jablonski, Skin, A Natural History

Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

Bronia Kita, The Swansong of Wilbur McCrum

Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington

Elizabeth Edmondson, The Art of Love

Maria McCann, The Wilding

Mary Hoffman, The Falconer’s Knot

Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book

Jonathan Dee, The Privileges

Evie Wyld, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice



June news

Michelle Lovric has been appointed Royal Literary Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art, starting in September this year.  

Tickets may ordered for collection at  the door for Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril lecture (see May news) on June 1st, 7pm, at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Email: info@veniceinperil.org

Details of Michelle Lovric’s personal guided tour of the Wellcome Collection’s Skin exhibition (July 28) have been posted here and her event in the Wellcome Library (July 3) here.


Publishing news

The Book of Human Skin has been named one of Woman & Home’s Top 25 Books For 2010

Latest review of The Book of Human Skin:

‘She is a pitiless writer, who revels in creating a cast of lovable rabbits, then setting a mink loose amongst them and watching it go about its feral business …’ Lucy Inglis, www.georgianlondon.com. For the whole review click here.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has written a review of Flora Tristan’s Peregrinations of a Pariah on the influential Normblog site for May 18th.

Her next post on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure will be June 3rd.


Venice news

Venice's Settemari rowing and cultural organization will hold a 'fresco notturno', a waterbourne event, to mark the 700th anniversary of the conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo, on the evening of June 15th, the feast of San Vio. The boats will make a procession up and down the Grand Canal, stopping at San Vio, where a new church was built in the 14th century to mark the salvation of the city, and at Sant'Agostin, the site of Baiamonte palace, which was razed to the ground after his conspiracy failed. Baiamonte's plans were betrayed to the Doge, and an old lady threw a mortar and pestle at the head of his standard-bearer, throwing his forces into disarray.

A column of infamy, which once stood at Sant'Agostin, is still in storage at the Doges' Palace, but members of the Settemari and the public will deliver mortars to Sant'Agostin, as a symbol of the people's rejection of Baiamonte's bid for tyrannical power.

Katie Hickman’s evocative new Venetian-set novel The Pindar Diamond, is published by Bloomsbury on June 7th.

It's Venice, 1604. When rumours of a spectacularly rare and priceless diamond begin to circulate amongst the gamblers and courtesans of the Venetian demi-monde, the Levant Company merchant, Paul Pindar, becomes convinced that the jewel is somehow linked to the fate of his former love, Celia Lamprey …

Katie Hickman and Michelle Lovric will be collaborating on an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, talking about how to approach writing about Venice. They’ll also be performing together at the Ilkley Festival in October.


June books

Victoria Glendinning, Flight

Katie Hickman, The Pindar Diamond

Annie Proulx, That Old Ace in the Hole

smoked plague letter

portrait of Michelle
by Lily Linke


May 2010


Michelle Lovric was interviewed by Jenni Murray for Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour . They discussed holy anorexia, anthropodermic bibliopegy, the Venetian islands of the mad and disinfected plague mail – all part of the plot of The Book of Human Skin. 


During the interview, Jenni Murray handled this letter sent from plague-ridden Istanbul to Venice in 1789. It has been sprinkled with vinegar and smoked to prevent contamination. It’s now known that plague cannot in fact be transmitted by paper. But dried, powdered smallpox scabs can be used to infect someone even after decades. Click here to hear the interview.



Reviews of The Book of Human Skin


“A witty, exciting, over-the-top page-turner which becomes increasingly addictive…“Quite unlike anything else around – and all the better for that.” John Harding, Daily Mail

“Rich, involving and brilliantly imagined.” Fanny Blake, Woman and Home Magazine

 “If it doesn’t scoop all the prizes, we live in an unjust world. It’s an absolute corker…It’s years since I enjoyed a novel this much – or felt such strong envy of an author for having the breadth and richness of imagination to create such a world.” AN Wilson, Reader’s Digest

“This is, essentially, a love story told by a delightfully riotous collection of characters and voices…Fantastically gripping.” Eithne Farry, Marie Claire

 “Colourful, intoxicating and brutal.”  She Magazine

“A fiendishly gripping plot full of comically sadistic twists and turns.” Tina Jackson, Metro

“I  cracked open The Book of Human Skin with the same frisson of apprehension and attraction that I remember on first meeting the Brothers Grimm with their cast of mesmerizingly cruel villains, resourceful  heroines, penniless lovers, loyal servants, and the downright mad. You know no good will come of it. The best you can hope for—given a stage set with poison, flaying, torture, and plague—is that luck will intervene somehow and allow good to prevail. But how? I could not stop my fingers from turning the pages of this deliciously horrid tale with its terrors holy and unholy, its pleasures delightful and diabolical, and danger crowding on every side.  But Lovric really saved the greatest surprise for the pages of notes that follow her tale: she is not making this up. Many of what seem like her most extreme and fantastical inventions are – appallingly— derived from the pages of history and our own deeply questionable obsessions, preoccupations, beliefs, and delusions. Disturbing? Certainly.”

Pauline Holdstock, author of Beyond Measure (shortlisted for the 2004 Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize)

And there’s an extended review by Jill Murphy on the Bookbag website




Wellcome Collection | 10 June–26 September 2010


This year, the subject of the Wellcome’s summer exhibition is SKIN.


Events range from lively talks, discussions and activities on topics such as tattoos, the facts behind the hype of popular skin products, to a major symposium on nudity and a performance event on skin’s elasticity by Amsterdam’s the PARS Foundation.

Michelle Lovric will be presenting several events based around her novel, The Book of Human Skin.

For full events details, see the Wellcome Collection’s website



In its very first week of publication, Louise Berridge’s touching, pacy novel, Honour and the Sword (see APRIL news) entered The Sunday Times' Bestseller List for hardback fiction at number 10. Read more about Louise’s success here.

Louise Berridge’s website


Simon Mawer, a member of English Writers in Italy, has been shortlisted for the new and prestigious Water Scott prize for his novel, The Glass Room, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.




The actress Lucy Scott is currently recording an audio edition of The Undrowned Child for release in June by Oakhill Publishing.

Lucy Scott trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. Her theatre credits include ‘The Dice House’ (Arts Theatre), ‘Emma’ (Tricycle), ‘Things we do for love’, ‘Quartermaine’s Terms’ (tours); ‘Time and the Conways’ (Salisbury Playhouse); ‘The Tempest’ (Orange Tree), ‘Mansfield Park’ (Crucible, Chichester and tour); ‘Beau Jest’, ‘ While the Sun Shines’(Birmingham Old Rep);’The Odd Women’ ‘Private Lives’ (Manchester Royal Exchange); ‘The Seagull’, ‘Enemy of the People’ (Theatr Clwyd) Television includes ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (BBC2), ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, ‘Hearts and Bones’, ‘Sunny’s Ears’, ‘Inspector Lynley Mysteries’, ‘Mrs David – a life in recipes’, ‘Rosemary and Thyme’. She also performs, dramaturgs and directs children’s plays for ‘Scene and Heard’ Theatre company.


Michelle Lovric will be taking part in the Southwark Schools Reading Festival with an event at the Dulwich Picture Gallery on Thursday June 17th at 1pm. She will be explaining how her own childhood in Australia came to influence the creation at The Undrowned Child, her Venetian novel for children.


Contact: yolanda@headexec.com

Tel: 07770 347 616 or 01797 364 366

Fax: 0208 659 9191


New writing


Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about the moment she decided to write The Book of Human Skin on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure website, April 3rd


She has posted another ABBA blog on May 3rd, this time about the tragic decapitation of Signor Rioba in Venice on the night before May 1st, with a follow-up on May 4th.



And she’s written the diary entry for the English Writers in Italy website for April. It’s about a washing powder called la Suora, the nun.



Venice news

There’s an interview with Michelle Lovric on the Fictional Cities website, in which she explains what she would do if she were mayor of Venice for a day.

Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website





May books

Nick Green’s wonderfully ingenious novel, The Cat Kin, comes out with Strident on June 2. It’s technically for children, but any lover of cats, obscure martial arts and good writing will thoroughly enjoy this book.


Cat Kin was shortlisted for the Bolton Book Award. It’s also been featured on BBC Radio 4.


What’s it about?


Ben and Tiffany never expected their after-school gym class to be like this. For Mrs Powell teaches pashki, a lost art from an age when cats were worshipped as gods.


But who is their eccentric old teacher? What does she really want with them? And why are they suddenly able to see in the dark?


They are going to need all of their nine lives...



Other May books

Amanda Craig, Love in Idleness

Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin

Ross Raisin, God’s Own Country

Amy Sackville, The Still Point

Flora Tristan, Peregrinations of a Pariah

Rudolf Bell, Holy Anorexia

Samuele Romanin, Storia Documentata di Venezia, 1912 edition

Dennis Romano, The aftermath of the Querini-Tiepolo conspiracy in Venice, Stanford Italian Review, 1987

Dennis Romano, Gender and the Urban Geography of Renaissance Venice

Journal of Social History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Winter, 1989), pp. 339-353

La Congiura delli Querini dalla Ca' Grande di S. Mattio di Rialto, e Bajamonte Tiepolo da Sant'Agostino con alcuni Badoeri fu per diverse cause ordinata,Venezia, 1797

Mrs Oliphant, The Makers of Venice, 1887

Vittorio Lazzarini, Aneddoti della congiura Quirini-Tiepolo, 1895

William Carew Hazlitt, History of the Venetian republic: her rise, her greatness, and her civilization, London, 1860

Francis Cotterell Hodgson, Venice in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: a sketch of Venetian history from the conquest of Constantinople to the accession of Michele Steno A.D. 1204-1400, London, 1910.


April news

Publishing news


The Book of Human Skin is published by Bloomsbury on April 5th and by Penguin Canada on June 8th.

It is reviewed by Jeff Cotton at the Fictional Cities website here.

An extended interview about The Book of Human Skin, will be posted on the literary blog Words Unlimited on April 1st and subsequently archived at Author Interviews.

An amusing spoof article about books bound in human skin.

And for German-speakers, there’s a nice recommendation for The Undrowned Child on YouTube.




This unsigned painting, in the style of John Ruskin, entitled 'The Passing Of Rose La Touche over Oxford' was entered for auction on March 5th by Biddle & Webb in Birmingham.


Michelle Lovric will be presenting a paper,

The Novelist's Baiamonte Tiepolo: 'The Lure of a Column of Infamy

at a conference to mark the 700th anniversary of


Baiamonte Tiepolo: history, images, stories

1310 – 2010  

12 April,17.30pm, at the Aula Magna of the Ateneo Veneto

Participants: Michele Gottardi, Michelle Lovric, Giandomenico Romanelli and Alberto Toso Fei

New writing

Michelle Lovric has written about the Google Book Settlement and production values in books on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on March 5th .

Her next ABBA blog is on April 3rd and she’ll also be doing the April diary entry for the English Writers in Italy website for April. It’s about a washing powder called la Suora.


Venice news

Maurizio Crema, journalist at the Gazzettino, presented his new book at the Italian Bookshop in London on March 24. Sulle ali del leone, a vela da Venezia a Corfù navigando sulle rotte della Serenissima tells the story of his voyage under sail from Venice to Corfu, along coasts that were once part of Venice’s empire, and which still show its influence, both in the physical fabric of the towns, and in the attitudes of the people.

Living art. An unusual idea - a walk-through gallery of 15 paintings by Canaletto, Carlevaris, Guardi and Turner, accompanied by the music of Vivaldi, the sound of water, dogs barking,  gondoliers calling. See a sample here.




Exhibition of paintings by the architect Carlo Giuliani

at the Casinò di Venezia , 25.03.2010 - 25.03.2010



Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website. 

April books

A.L. Berridge, Honour and the Sword

Paul Dowswell. Auslander

Colm Toibin, Brooklyn

Kashuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes

Disegni inediti dell’Ottocento Veneziano

Giuseppe Tassini, Edifici di Venezia distrutti o volti ad uso diverso

Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club

F.C. Hodgson, Venice in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, 1910

Mrs Oliphant, The Makers of Venice, 1887

Giuseppe Fort, Storia Veneziana del ‘300

Don F. Martinez de la Rosa, La Congiura di Bajamonte Tiepolo in Venezia

  March 2010


Advance reviews for The Book of Human Skin to be published by Bloomsbury on 5 April:

This book is fabulous - funny, horrific, subversive - in short a wholly addictive read.  I don't think I have enjoyed anything as much since Perfume.

Joanne Harris

The Book of Human Skin is Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel for adults, I am eager to read her backlist on the strength of it … the storytelling is superb … The Book of Human Skin feels epic in scope and has rich historical detail, while the narrative is cleverly handled with multiple viewpoints. Really a fantastic read, which does get under the skin.

Emma Giacon, Book content manager, Amazon


Forthcoming book: A.L. Berridge, Honour and the Sword

When Michelle Lovric was assigned this book for a structural edit by The Writers’ Workshop, she immediately recognised that it was something very special. So did literary agent Victoria Hobbs of A.M. Heath. So did Penguin. The first book in the Honour and the Sword series will be published on 15 April.


Michelle Lovric will be presenting a paper,

The Novelist's Baiamonte Tiepolo: The Lure of a Column of Infamy

at a conference to mark the 700th anniversary of the foiled conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo:


Baiamonte Tiepolo: history, images, stories

1310 – 2010  
11 March, 17.30pm, at the sala del Consiglio, Ca' Corner

Participants: Giuseppe Gullino, Gherardo Ortalli, Amalia Basso

and Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini

12 April, 17.30pm, at the Aula Magna of the Ateneo Veneto

Participants: Michele Gottardi, Michelle Lovric, Giandomenico Romanelli and Alberto Toso Fei

At left, detail of a painting of Bajamonte Tiepolo’s Column of Infamy,
by Kaitlin Zorah

Michelle Lovric’s website has been selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has written about the campaign to resurrect the Column on Infamy on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure Her next ABBA blog is on 4 March.



Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website.


Venice news

The San Pantalon Players pantomime Cinderella (see January News) raised more than 3500 euros for Care & Share Italia’s projects in Andhra Pradesh, India.  


March books

Lauren St John, The White Giraffe

Marcus Sedgwick, The Kiss of Death

Susan Price, The Wolf-Sisters

Liz Jensen, The Rapture


  February 2010


Michelle Lovric will deliver this year's
Venice in Peril Summer Lecture
with an introduction by John Julius Norwich

The Royal Geographical Society, 7pm, Tuesday 1 June 2010

 On the eve of its 700th anniversary, Michelle Lovric evokes one of the most dramatic dawns in Venetian history and traces its physical
aftermath in the city.

The Night Venice Nearly Died
The Conspiracy of Bajamonte Tiepolo 1310–2010

It’s midnight on 14 June, 1310, the eve of the Feast of San Vito. The conspirators are gathered at Marco Querini’s palazzo at Rialto. Around the table are Marco and Piero Querini, Marco’s son-in-law Bajamonte Tiepolo and many others. They’re planning to kill Doge Pietro Gradenigo and take over the city. If all goes according to plan, Venice will be theirs just before dawn. The men decide on three separate strikes at the heart of the city. Routes are planned. Strategies are agreed. They embrace, and hurry to their assignations. Unbeknownst to them, there’s a betrayer in their midst …

At left, an artist’s interpretation of Bajamonte Tiepolo’s Column of Infamy,
Kaitlin Zorah McDonough

£20 (£15 for Venice in Peril members)
Please call the office on +44 (0)20 7736 6891 or email info@veniceinperil.org

By post: please send a cheque made payable to ‘Venice in Peril’ to Venice in Peril, Hurlingham Studios, Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PA, enclosing a note to specify ‘Summer Lecture June 1st 2010’.  
See Venice in Peril website

Publishing news

The paperback of The Undrowned Child will be out in February 2010.

And the German edition of The Undrowned Child, with the title Melodie der Meerjungfrauen has just been published.

The Mourning Emporium, the sequel to the Undrowned Child, will now be published in November 2010.  


Venice exhibition

The Venice in Peril exhibition has opened at
W. H. Patterson Limited
19 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BB
T: 020 7629 4119
M: 07767 824245

The exhibition  runs from Wednesday 13th January to Friday 5th February 2010

At left, The Sunlit Altar, Santa Maria della Salute, by Peter Kelly


New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Escaping the 20th  Century on the Awfully Big Blog Adventure website.

February books

Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

Iain Fenlon, Piazza San Marco

Susan Price, The Sterkarm Kiss

Emily Diamand, Flood Child



Pantomime in Venice

January 2010

Oh Yes It is! An English Pantomime in Venice!

Novelist Laurie Graham presents a witty take on Cinderella at the Avogaria Theatre in Dorsoduro, Venice. Her characters include Septicemia and Salmonella (pictured left), the lovely daughters of Botulina, Cinderella’s step-mother; the bailiff’s men, Dewey, Fleeceham and Howe; a Magpie, a Fox, Silk Moths, Glow Worms and two surprise guest celebrities. Pietro Ferri makes his long-awaited return to the stage as Madame Papillon, the dance teacher.
‘Otherwise,’ as the author says, ‘it’s a pretty standard production of Cinderella.’

The performance dates are
Jan 14 @ 10.30am & 7.30pm,
Jan 15 @ 7.30pm
Jan 16 @10.30am
Free admittance; exit collection in aid of Care & Share Italia.
Reservations are NECESSARY – please email scribbler2@yahoo.com
or telephone +39 0415 226 249.

Closest vaporetti are Ca Rezzonico or San Basili.

Laurie Graham’s latest novel, Life According to Lubka, comes out in paperback early next year.


The Undrowned Child  

In the Reader's Digest Christmas Issue, Dec 2009, A N Wilson writes:

I would recommend The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric. This is the sort of book that is labelled "for children" but that will be passed round the eager family. If you like ghost stories, books set in Venice or being scared stiff – especially by sharks –this is the book for you. And if you think you don't fall into those categories, you will still find yourself gripped, it is so well written.

Teodora comes to Venice aged 11 with her scientist parents in 1899. But she is adopted: she is really a baby who was lost in a foggy accident on the Venetian lagoon. From there, Teodora's adventures, with a marvellously insouciant and snooty boy called Renzo, include forming an alliance with mermaids, wrestling with sharks and fighting off the most sinister magician since Voldemort. Crammed with history, fantasy and beautiful comedy, this book gets a five-star rating.

The Undrowned Child has been longlisted for the Lancashire Book of the Year 2010.

A short video based on Michelle Lovric’s Carnevale has been posted on YouTube.

Cow stampede  

New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post about writers facing the recession for
An Awfully Big Blog Adventure for December 8th.

And watch out for Minou, the new Venetian cat of the month, on
The Undrowned Child website.

Tears of Venice

Tears for Venice

In a blog post for ABBA in November 2009 Michelle Lovric wrote about a woman who was wearing crystal earrings she described as ‘Tears for Venice’ at the funeral that was staged for the city on November 14th. This is in fact the real name of those earrings. They are made for the association Venezia Civiltà Anfibia, which proposes to build up a consensus of individuals along with Italian and foreign associations, to support Venice and the human rights of her citizens to continue to live in their island context.

From the Venezia Civiltà Anfibia manifesto:

'When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the West was horrified, but what is happening to Venice is much worse. The political and cultural mismanagement is destroying our amphibious civilization, which is unique in the world, and forcing the inhabitants to move to the mainland. But a city without citizens is not a city. Venice weeps for her lost citizens … the Tears of Venice are a sign of love and concern for the fate of this rare and precious gift to humanity, which could not continue to exist without its population.
In 1848, Venice, after the long siege, prostrated by hunger and cholera, surrendered to the Austrians. Then the Italian women of the liberal middle classes wore pendants of beads, symbolic tears for the fate of Venice, abandoned to her fate by all the powers of Europe.
And once again, today, Venice cannot be left alone.'

The Venezia Civiltà Anfibia website has more details and explains how to join the society.


    Only a dog mans the edicola

Venetians really are disappearing. This edicola in Santa Maria Formosa appears to be manned only by a depressed-looking dog.


January books

Frank Gibson, Superstitions about Animals, London, 1904
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Heart of a Dog
Harrison Rhodes, Venice of Today and Yesterday, 1936
Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches, 1893
Lieut.-Col Newnham-Davis and Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe, 1902
Tudy Sammartini, Venice from the Bell Towers
Susan Price, The Sterkarm Handshake
Tiziana Plebani, ed, Storia di Venezia città delle donne

Kelly Morrison's photo of the Undrowned Child

We live beyond ourselves in air

December 2009

The Undrowned Child has been nominated for the 2009 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards for Fantasy/Science Fiction.

Photographer Kelly Morrison has produced this beautiful image of The Undrowned Child. See more of her work on FLICKR.


Reminder: Michelle Lovric is a judge for The Brit Writers’ Awards. The organisers are looking for the UK's best undiscovered writers of novels, stories, poems and songs. The competition closes December  18th.


Young artist Kaitlin Zorah McDonagh lives and works in Venice. She’s scored a coup with simultaneous shows in New York and Venice during October. The waters of the Grand Canal and Venetian lagoon inspire and influence her fluid, lively paintings.

Left: We Live Beyond Ourselves in Air, 2009, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm

Below left: What the Sun Does, 2009, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm

Below centre: His Visits Home, 2009, oil on canvas, 40 x 40cm

Below right: Alberoni, 2009, oil on canvas, 180 x 135cm


What the sun does   His visits homeAlberoni

Funeral for Venice

War Fare

Can it be about me?


New writing

To continue the artistic theme, there’s a new Venetian Cat of the Month on The Undrowned Child website. Red-haired Van Gogh rules in oriental splendour in his palatial shop in San Barnaba. Follow the links through the Cat section of the site to Venetian Cats and then Venetian Cat of the Month for December.

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Golems for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on November 12th and another one on Venice’s Funeral on November 22nd.


New study opportunity in Venice

Applications are invited for the Vittore Branca International Center for the Study of Italian Culture, a new international resource for humanities studies aimed at young researchers and expert scholars interested in furthering their knowledge in a field of Italian civilisation: the visual arts, history, literature, music, drama.

Two main categories of researchers are eligible to attend the Vittore Branca Center: Junior, i.e. postgraduate students studying for a master’s degree, doctorate or specialization and Ph.D. graduates, and Senior, i.e. expert scholars – university lecturers, senior researchers, heads of research centers, writers or artists.

The residential facilities on the Island provide scholars and researchers with the opportunity to work and stay at length on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice at economically reasonable conditions (30 euros a day, including breakfast) in a setting conducive to reflection and intellectual exchanges. A residence situated in the grounds of the Island can accommodate up to 90 scholars, allowing young researchers and expert scholars to enjoy the mutual benefits of working side by side.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have privileged access to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini libraries and archives, specialized in the areas of art history, Venetian history, literature, music, dance and theatre, and to the literary, art, drama and music bequests housed in the Foundation.

Moreover, they will have free access to all cultural events (courses, seminars, conferences, exhibitions, concerts, etc.) organized by the Giorgio Cini Foundation. Thus, for example, musicologists can attend seminars of historical studies, while art historians can sit in on seminars on early music: both have the opportunity to explore the broader cultural background to their own work.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have free access to a work station with Internet connection, printer, scanner, telephone-fax; an international newspaper library; film and music rooms on the residence premises; advice and information about libraries and archives of the main Venetian institutions.

Lastly, young researchers at the Vittore Branca Center can also benefit from the presence of a tutor who will assist them in becoming familiar with the general set-up on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its documentary and artistic heritage. Tutors will also advise researchers on cultural events at the Giorgio Cini Foundation and in the city and will suggest which directors and collaborators in the Foundation’s Institutes and Research Centers can help them with their research projects.

Access to the Vittore Branca Center and all its facilities requires prior admission (see Junior admission and Senior admission) Applications for admission must be drafted according to the appropriate form which can be downloaded.

For the period from June 2010 to May 2011, twelve scholarships amounting to euros 12,500 are available for young students, who are expected to stay permanently in the Vittore Branca Center residence for a period in keeping with the aims of their research project (usually six months). Such research project shall be consistent with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini strategy to open up and make good use of the great store of art and intellectual treasures housed on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.


December Books

Mira Crouch, War Fare
Mary Hoffman, Mermaid and Chips
Katherine Langrish, Troll Fell
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Morris Gleitzman, Misery Guts
Charles Berg, The Unconscious Significance of Hair, 1951
Caroline Cox, Good Hair Days: A History of British Hairstyling, 1999
J. Pincus, The Hair: Its Treatment in Health, Weakness, and Disease,1882
Montague Summers, The Geography of Witchcraft, Kegan Paul, 1927
Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
B.A. Jarrin, The Italian Confectioner, London, 1820
Cheryl Moskowitz, Can It Be About Me?

Rose la Touche of Harristown Morrison-Lovric

November 2009

Michelle Lovric is a judge for The Brit Writers’ Awards 2010. The organisers are looking for the UK’s best undiscovered writers of novels, stories, poems and songs. The competition closes December 18. See the Britwriters website.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Rose la Touche of Harristown Morrison-Lovric for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on October 19th.

She’s also done a diary piece about Waterproofing in Venice, on the English Writers in Italy website.


Venice video

For a feast of music and Venetian paintings see this video on You Tube.


November Books

Simon Mawer, The Glass Room
Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer
Jane Eagland, Wildthorn
Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, Water, Tales of Elemental Spirits

Party in the Italian Bookshop

I Segreti del Canal Grande - cover

October 2009

The Undrowned Child was celebrated at the Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court, London, on September 10th. Actress Claire Bloom and poet Geraldine Paine both read from the book. Jeff Cotton, creator of the Fictional Cities website, interviewed Michelle Lovric about writing about Venice.

For the latest reviews of The Undrowned Child, check The Undrowned Child website.

New writing

Michelle Lovric has written a post on topping-out ceremonies for  An Awfully Big Adventure for 23rd  September.


Old Laughs

For a parody of pretentious Venice-speak (and Marks & Spencers) watch this clip (two smaller sections before you get to the Venice dinner party).



The competition "Win a week in Venice learning Italian at the Venice Italian School" gives you the chance to win a trip for 2 to study Italian at the Venice Italian School. The winners will learn or improve their Italian while living Venice the Venetian way. Standard classes in the morning will be followed by "special" ones like rowing a gondola and tasting Venetian cuisine or the wines from the Veneto region. To join the competition, send an email with your name, surname and address before Friday the 6th of November 2009.

October Books

James L. Spates, Ruskin’s Dark Night of the Soul, A Reconsideration of His Mental Illness and their Importance of Accurate Diagnosis for Interpreting His Life Story, from The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, Spring 2009

Tim Winton, Breath

Joanne M. Ferraro, Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice, Illicit Sex and Infanticide in the Republic of Venice, 1557 – 1789

Anne Rooney, The Story of Medicine

Sophie Gordon, Noble Hounds and Dear Companions

Gianni Ghirardini, Motti e Detti Veneziani

Alberto Toso Fei, I Segreti del Canal Grande

Caroline Lawrence, The Thieves of Ostia, from The Roman Mysteries series


The Italian Bookshop, Cecil Court, London

Parrot logo

September 2009

The Undrowned Child will be celebrated at an event at the Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court, London, at 6.30pm on September 10th.

Actress Claire Bloom and poet Geraldine Paine will read from the book. Jeff Cotton of the Fictional Cities website will interview the author

See location on Google maps


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted The Architecture of a Parrot on An Awfully Big Adventure for August 20th and Conjugal and Genre Fidelity for 27th August.

Bertelli CocaCola picture

Bertelli etching


Young Venetian artist

Matteo Bertelli is a young Venetian artist who produces enchanting and fantastical drawings, paintings and etchings of his city and political cartoons like this one depicting the proposed ‘sale’ of Venice to Coca Coca, a subject much in the news this year.

For many more examples of his work, see his excellent website. Contact him at matteobertelli@hotmail.com

Bertelli's Venice  Bertelli - Canal view


Abandoned islands of the Venetian lagoon

All the horses of heaven

September books

James Tipton, All the Horses of Heaven/Todos los Caballos del Paraiso, which Alexis Rotella calls a “rare combination of mostly erotic tanka...that at the same time celebrate...the poet’s life in Mexico!” Available through Met Press.

Giorgio and Maurizio Crovato, The Abandoned Islands of the Venetian Lagoon. This book was first published in 1978. The new edition gives an appraisal of the time which has passed since then, as well as presenting a translation into English as a dual language book. Since its launch, it has stimulated the debate about the future of the islands that were abandoned in the early nineteenth century. Whilst some have been restored, such as Lazzaretto Nuovo and La Certosa, others such as Santo Spirito and Madonna dell Monte have deteriorated even further. 

Ten percent of the income from sales in Italy go towards Lazzaretto Nuovo, 10% of the UK sales go to Venice in Peril; 10% of proceeds in the USA go to Save Venice Inc. It is available in bookshops and from San Marco Press.

Lee Jackson, The Welfare of the Dead
Anne Rooney, The Story of Mathematics



August 2009

Latest reviews of The Undrowned Child
(see www.undrownedchild.com)

Of several fine debuts this year, one of the outstanding new voices for readers in this age group is Michelle Lovric, whose The Undrowned Child appears this month. A mysterious tale set in an alternative historical fantasy Venice – with mermaids – it is gripping, elegant and original.
Daniel Hahn, The Independent on Sunday

Ignoring the old cliché about judging a book by its cover, The Undrowned Child's beautifully-distressed outer sheet promises much about the fairytale within. A sketch of Venice gives way to a mermaid swimming through a turquoise sea, with the book's edges made to look like an ancient volume. And the cover certainly delivers. Michelle Lovric's first children's book reads like a harmonious cross between JK Rowling and Dan Brown - it's a carefully-conceived adventure set in 1800s Venice, where mermaids exist, children can see ghosts and librarians can change into cats. Our young heroine Teo comes to an ailing Venice with her adoptive scientist parents, and learns about her real roots with the help of an old book called The Key To The Secret City. Together with a studious Venetian boy, Teo sets out to save the city from an old enemy. Lovric conjures up a delightfully mystical Venice and two sympathetic heroes in a fast-paced story, with a map and handy historical information, that will have children of all ages hooked.
Kate Whiting, The Press Association

Writers from the Clink Street workshop will be giving readings from their work at Alexandra Park Library on August 14th at 7.30pm.
Readers: Geraldine Paine, Ann Vaughan-Williams, Carol DeVaughn, Mavis Gregson and Michelle Lovric.
Alexandra Park Library, Alexandra Park Road, N22 7UJ


New writing

Michelle Lovric has written a post called 'That Obscure Egret of my Desire' for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure July 25th







Simon Mawer, a member of the English Writers in Italy, has been long-listed for this year’s Man Booker prize. His novel, The Glass Room, is published by Little, Brown. For more about the book, see

www.simonmawer.com and www.englishwritersinitaly.com




August Books

  • Pope Brock, Charlatan
  • Samuele Constantini, La Scuola del Mare
  • Carlo Lucarelli, Day after Day
  • Adam Mars-Jones, Pilchrow
  • Lee Jackson, London Dust
  • Andrew Wynter, Our Social Bees; or, Pictures of Town & Country Life, and other papers, 1865
  • Lucio Sponza, Italian Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Britain: Realisties and Images
  • Charles G. Harper, Southwark Past and Present
  • Reverend Charles Maurice Davies, Mystic London: or, Phases of Occult Life in the Metropolis, 1875
  • Peter Underwood, Haunted London, 1973
  • Dr D.G. Storms, Anglo-Saxon Magic, 1948
  • Charles G. Harper, Queer Things about London, 1923
  • Priscilla Metcalf, Victorian London, 1972
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 1937
  • J.H.G Grattan and Charles Singer, Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine, 1952
  • H.B. Baker, Stories of the Streets of London, 1899



July 2009

New children’s book and website

The Undrowned Child is published by Orion on July 2nd.

www.undrownedchild.com is now up and running.

Latest reviews of The Undrowned Child

'I think that it'll turn out to be easily the best Venice-set novel of the year … This is as spooky as you'd expect from a supernatural tale for young adults/older children, but with charm and humour too. If I'd read this book as a child I think that my passion for Venice would've come that much quicker. Citing the names of Potter and Pullman is not inappropriate, but not as a marketing ploy so much as an appreciation of the rare skillfor combining magic and humanity so that the reader is left with his collies wobbled and his heart warmed.'
Jeff Cotton, fictionalcities.com

'A captivating magical fantasy in a secret watery underworld, The Undrowned Child tells how eleven year old Teodora is swept into the storybook world of invisible children whose task is to save the dying city of Venice. Working alongside the mermaids Theodora’s task is immense. Together can they save the city before the water destroys it? With lyrical writing and an unputdownable plot this is something very special.'
Julia Eccleshare, LoveReading4Kids.co.uk

The Undrowned Child has a marvellous story and is bound with a love of Venice. But what really distinguishes from what could have been an author's vain attempt to write about Venice is the colourful language and detail. The mermaid have learnt English from pirates and like curry, the nuns see ghosts, the evil takes revenge on the bakers souring their pastries while poisoning tourists with mint ice-cream - no doubt a dig at the poor quality gelato served in St Mark's Square compared to the good stuff hidden in the back streets. There are also a few sly digs at the Biennale art festival and Venetians' open snobbishness to any foreigner, Italians included. Although aimed at a 'young adult' audience - meaning children over ten - it seems certain the depth of the storyline will lead it on Harry Potter's successful quest into the adult market.
Daniel Barnes, www.inthenews.co.uk


Michelle Lovric will be discussing her Orange Prize-listed novel The Remedy with the SE1 Book Club at the Britannia pub in Kipling Street on Wednesday July 8th

New writing

Michelle Lovric supplied a Venice parable for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure June 30th


July Books

  • Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • Rough Guide, Venice and the Veneto
  • Catherine Johnson, A Nest of Vipers


June 2009

Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel for adults, The Book of Human Skin (Bloomsbury, 2010) will be published in Canada by Penguin.

There’s a Bookbag review of Michelle Lovric’s forthcoming novel, The Undrowned Child and an interview with the author at


Michelle Lovric has written a diary piece about Enrico Dandolo’s gravestone for the English Writers in Italy website June edition.


and a guest blog about Disinfected Mail on


Patricia Guy of English writers in Italy has already read The Undrowned Child : see her busy Diary at


Michelle Lovric will be discussing her Orange Prize-listed novel The Remedy with the SE1 Book Club at the Britannia pub in Kipling Street on Wednesday July 8th

June Books

  • Laurie Graham, Life According to Lubka
  • Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat
  • Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture
  • Kate Thompson, Creature of the Night
  • Carol Goodman, The Lake of Dead Languages
  • Sian Busby, A Wonderful Little Girl
  • Morris Gleitzman, Once
  • Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories
  • Pat Barker, Double Vision


May 2009

Michelle Lovric will be in conversation with the Venetian Writer Tiziano Scarpa at the Circolo Italo Britannico at the Telecom Centre in San Salvador, Venice, at 5.30 on June 1st. She will be reading from The Undrowned Child, which has already received some reviews:

‘a stunning debut novel … Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, this is writing that is alight and alive. Two worlds are held in balance, Venice on the cusp of change, as science exerts an even stronger stranglehold against a deeper, underwater world of myth and mermaids. A beautifully told allegory that captures the power of language, this has definite crossover appeal’ – Jake Hope, Booksellers’ Choice, The Bookseller

'What an amazing sense of place the writer establishes - Venice is really the central character! The cast of characters too is fresh and quite extraordinary - how I loved those mermaids and their way of life. I didn't put it down as the story sweeps on with such speed and wonder that there's no place to stop.' - Wendy Cooling, children's book consultant.

‘This sumptuous Venetian adventure is the first novel for children by Lovric, author of Carnevale. It’s a Potter-esque 424 pages … but a great romp for more literary readers’ – Fiona Noble, Children’s Previews, The Bookseller.

‘An amazing urban fantasy for children’ – LibraryThing website

The Undrowned Child will be published by Orion on July 2nd, 2009.

May Books

  • George Ferguson, Signs & Symbols in Christian Art
  • Martha Grimes, The Train Now Departing
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, London, 1937
  • Liz Kessler, The Emily Windsnap series
  • Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book


    Mary Hoffman, author of the acclaimed Stravaganza books, has a new blog about books and the publishing industry: wwwbookmaven.blogspot.com

    So many quotes about writing … so few about reading, but here's one:

    ‘Readers may be divided into four classes:
    1. Sponges, who absorb all they read, and return it nearly in the same state, only a little dirtied.
    2. Sand-glasses, who retain nothing, and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time.
    3. Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read.
    4. Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet and critic
  • On Readers, Lectures, 1811-12, Poems and Prose


April 2009

April Books

  • Rome Noir, edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Chiara Stangalino
    A book of short stories that really get under the skin. Each story is set in a different quarter of the ancient city. It includes stories from Antonio Scurati, Carlo Lucarelli, Gianrico Carofiglio, Diego De Silva, Giuseppe Genna, Marcello Fois, C.D. Formetta, Enrico Franceschini, Boosta, Francesca Mazzucato, Evelina Santangelo, Nicola LaGioia, Tommaso Pincio, Antonio Pascale, and Nicoletta Vallorani.

  • Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
    This wonderful book exposes the excess and pretension of the Venice Biennale of art, and then plummets into phantasmagoric Extreme Tourism in the most spiritual of Indian cities. Illuminating, unfearing and very funny.

  • James Tipton’s new book of poetry is called Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village and includes short poems, in Spanish and English, set in Mexico and Latin America. Here are two examples:
  • A woman at last!
    Tonight, Old Moon,
    you will have to sleep alone.

    In every country
    there are good things to eat
    and good people to love


    (Venice 1915 – 1918. Images of the City in Time of War).

    Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, Campo San Luca , finishes 20 April 2009

    Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, Campo San Luca , finishes 20 April 2009 This exhibition includes fascinating maps of where the bombs fell in Venice, pictures of the city during the black-out and photographs of the ‘home-guard’ aiming their guns at the enemy aircraft from the altane – rooftop terraces – where women used to bleach their hair blonde. There are also ration cards and gas-masks from the period.

    Planning a visit to Venice? The new Venice tourism site is now available in English. On www.veniceconnected.com you can avoid queues by booking in advance all kinds of tickets for public transport, museums and even public toilets or carparking. There are discounts for buying online for most things. The only downside: you need to book at least fifteen days in advance of travel, and then your tickets can only be collected from the airport, Tronchetto, Santa Lucia Station or Piazzale Roma during the opening hours stated on the site. According to the Comune, the tickets will definitely be at the right place at the right time … fifteen days notice should be enough. Hopefully this aspect will be streamlined, eventually.

The convent of Santa Catalina
in Arequipa, Peru


March 2009


Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel, The Book of Human Skin, will be published by Bloomsbury in April 2010

The Book of Human Skin is a story of unmitigated villainy, Holy Anorexia, quack medicine, murder, love and a very unusual form of bibliomania.

Midday, 13th May, 1784: An earthquake in Peru tears up the white streets of Arequipa. As the dust settles, a young girl with fanaticism already branded on her face arrives at the devastated convent of Santa Catalina. At the same moment, oceans away in Venice, the infant Minguillo Fasan tears his way out of his mother’s womb. The great Palazzo Espagnol, built on Peruvian silver and New World drugs, has an heir.

Twelve years later, Venice is in Napoleon’s sights and Minguillo, who has already contrived to lose one sibling, is listening to the birth-cries of his new sister Marcella, a delicate, soft-skinned threat to his inheritance. Meanwhile, at Santa Catalina, the scarred young girl has become Sor Loreta, whose craving for sainthood is taking a decidedly sinister turn.

Minguillo’s livid jealousy will condemn his sister to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But Marcella Fasan is not quite the soft target Minguillo imagines. Aided by a loyal servant, an irascible portrait-painter, a young doctor obsessed with skin, a warhorse of a Scottish merchant and a cigar-smoking pornographer nun, Marcella pits her sense of humour, her clever pencil and her fierce heart against Minguillo’s pitiless machinations. Her journey takes her from Napoleon’s shamed Venice to the last picaresque days of colonial Peru – where the fanatical Sor Loreta has plans of her own for the young girl from Venice …

March Books

  • Thompson, Lawrence S, Religatum de pelle humana, 1949
  • Bost, Suzanne, Mulattas and Mestizas, 2005
  • Anonymous, Naked Truth and the Human Skin, 1857
  • Markwick, Alfred,A Description of the Structure and Functions of the Human Skin, 1847
  • Preece, Rod, Sins of the Flesh: a History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought, 2008
  • Laden, Alice,George Bernard Shaw's Vegetarian Cook Book, 1971
  • Wieringa, Saskia,The admonishment of the Vegetarian Great Aunt, 2007
  • Hart, Samuel Hopgood, Food and Character, 1928
  • Gregory, James, Dr,Of Victorians and Vegetarians: the Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-century Britain, 2007


February 2009

The Venetian writer Tiziano Scarpa is winning ecstatic reviews for his beautiful novel, Stabat Mater (Einaudi, available from The Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court). His protagonist is Cecilia, a 16-year-old violinist at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where the composer Vivaldi takes the post of music-master – and changes her life and career forever.



Wednesday 14 January 2009 to Friday 6 February 2009 at the W.H. Patterson gallery

19, Albemarle Street, London. W1S 4BB.
Tel 0207 248 3824 Fax 0207 499 0119

The exhibition can be previewed on the website

Venetian Road by Lionel Aggett and Blue Carpet by Keith Dunkley, reproduced by kind permission of the W.H. Patterson gallery

February Books

  • Eire, Carlos M.N., From Madrid to Purgatory, 1995
  • Scarpa, Tiziano, Stabat Mater, Einaudi, 2009
  • William Sansom, Christmas
  • Ghosh, Amitav, Sea of Poppies, 2008
  • Sister Mary ODC, editor, Living Waters, Daily Readings with St Teresa of Avila, 1985

Recommended Websites

www.maryannsimmons.co.uk - beautiful silver objects with an architectural flavour http://www.patriciaguy.com/pGuyDiary.php - Food and wine writer Patricia Guy now has a monthly blog


January 2009

The Go-Away Bird is the first collection of poetry by Geraldine Paine, one of the writers in the Clink Street Workshop. It is just out from Lapwing Publications. Sheenagh Pugh praises the range of voices that Geraldine Paine - actress, writer, magistrate - brings to this collection: 'rich, elegiac, yet more keenly aware of "now" than clinging to "then". '


The Dante Alighieri Institute of Venice will be offering various Italian language in 2009. info@venicedantealighieri.it or www.venicedantealighieri.it

January Books

  • Stephen Croad, Liquid History, The Thames Through Time
  • Bevis Hillier, Greetings from Christmas Past
  • William Sansom, Christmas
  • Richard Davey, A History of Mourning
  • Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking, Life Studies from the Dismal Trade (Cape, 1997)
  • Carlos M.N. Eire, From Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • Emily Cheney Neville, It's Like This, Cat
  • Karel Capek, I Had a Dog (George Allen & Unwin, 1940)
  • Raymond Chandler, Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, ed Frank MacShane (Cape, 1981)
  • R.H. Dana, The Seaman’s Manual (revised and corrected by John J. Mayo) (Ward, Lock & Co)
  • H.C. Folkard, The Sailing Boat: A Treatise on English and Foreign Boats (Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts, 1863)
  • T.C. Lethbridge, Boats and Boatmen (Thames & Hudson, 1952)
  • Alan Moore, Last Days of Mast & Sail: An Essay in Nautical Comparative Anatomy (Clarendon Press, 1936)
  • John Morley, Death, Heaven and the Victorians (Studio Vista, 1971)
  • H. Warington Smith, Mast and Sail in Europe and Asia (John Murray, 1906)
  • Edmund Vale, The Way of Ships (Country Life Limited, 1938)
  • January Websites



December 2008


One of the Borough Market’s historic pubs is the inspiration forThe Wheatsheaf RIP, a book of portraits of its modern patrons captured by acclaimed photographer John Ross, who lives nearby. One hundred and sixty-five Whatseaf regulars made their way to his studio in Clink Street for photographic sessions.

Thameslink’s building works will close the Wheatsheaf in January for an unconfirmed period. When it reopens, it will be under a new railway viaduct.

The book will benefit local charity Kids. All those involved in it gave their services free. Jonathan Ellery, founder of Browns in Plantain Place, designed the layouts, FF Smith in Marlborough Grove supplied the paper, and Moore Print in Old Jamaica Road did the production.

The Wheatsheaf RIP (Browns Editions £25) is available from Paul Smith in Park Street

Cecil Court

The Guide for People who Love Books and London.

Michelle Lovric has written a personal introduction for a new book about Britain’s most famous street of antiquarian book, map and ephemera shops. This beautifully-illustrated guidebook, written by Maria Grazia Marinowith photographs Saverio Paffumi, contains interviews with the owners of the shops and highlights some astonishing items of their stock. The author also presents a meditation on the two kinds of people who inhabit the world: ‘those for whom books are everything, and those for who they do not even exist.’

Kilo’s killer brought to justice.

On October 23rd, a 16-year-old girl was convicted of animal cruelty after drowning a ship's cat in the River Thames. The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, threw the cat from the gang-plank of the HMS Belfast on February 9th 2008. The cat had been adopted from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

December Books

  • Richard D. Altick, The Shows of London
  • Peter G Homan, Briony Hudson and Raymond C. Rowe, Popular Medicines, An Illustrated History
  • W.O’Daniels, Ins and Outs of London, 1859
  • Mrs J.E. Panton, Leaves from a Life, 1908
  • Richard Davey, A History of Mourning, 1889
  • Edward Eager, The Time Garden
  • Raimond Gaita, The Philosopher’s Dog
  • British Medical Association, Secret Remedies and More Secret Remedies
  • G.A. Henty, The Young Franc Tireurs and Their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War


November 2008

The Venetian gondoliers are gathering support for Obama. Here’s their second Youtube video.

If you don't see the video window above click here


Announcing …

Bestagno Olive Oil, a new Social Enterprise Company based in the Borough Market London, with olive groves at Castello di Bestagno, Liguria, Italy, and CareTrade a new registered charity founded to create employment for people with autism.

Bestagno Olive Oil and CareTrade have been created by Katharine Doré and Christopher Allen. Katharine, the mother of a profoundly autistic 15 year old boy, was one of the co-founders of TreeHouse, a charity set up in 1997 in response to the unmet national need for specialist education for children with autism.

In picturesque Bestagno, Liguria, ancient olive terraces fan out from the two isolated towers, all that remains of the area’s 9th-century castle.

Katharine Doré explains, ‘Largely abandoned after the Second World War, the olive trees, many of which are over 500 years old, were covered with canopies of ivy and brambles when we first saw them. The terraces were crumbling and many of the trees had not been pruned since the village elders were children. The stunning landscape and immense potential of the land made us determined to put together a grove of over 3000 trees.

‘We became aware of the need to create proper work opportunities for people with autism and indeed work experience for school children with autism when we were thinking about the future for our boy Toby who has profound autism. Christopher and I decided to buy and restore an olive farm in Liguria to create a work-based environment for Toby’s future. This idea developed into creating an olive oil business in order to create proper work for people with autism and work experience opportunities for school children.

‘We recognised that along with the olive oil company, which will be a social enterprise company and not for profit, we needed a registered charity. This way we could broaden the scope of what we wanted to do and work with all sorts of local companies to create work for people with autism.

‘People on the autistic spectrum vary greatly in their abilities both in terms of communication and their ability to simply ‘take part’. However their needs are similar to the rest of the population - a desire to be happy and productive, to be a part of a community where their contribution is valued, to have social and recreational lives, safe and appropriate accommodation and to be loved and valued as individuals.’

Bestagno Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil is available to order online www.bestoliveoil.org prior to its first shop opening in Borough Market in 2009

November Books

  • Michael Chabon, Summerland
  • Thomas Archer, The Terrible Sights of London, 1870
  • Edmund Yates, The Business of Pleasure, 1879
  • W. J. Gordon, The Horse World of London, 1893
  • James Payn, Lights and Shadows of London Life, 1867
  • James Greenwood, The Seven Curses of London, 1869
  • Henry Mayhew and John Binny, The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life (The Great World of London) 1862

  October 2008

The gondoliers of Venice are doing their bit towards the American elections. Here Robertino Nardin delivers a musical message, with Moreno Mainardi rowing, and Diego Tagliapetra filming.

If you don't see the video window above click here

While everyone's eyes are on the controversial Calatrava Bridge, it seems that the most iconic bridge in Venice has problems of its own. The Rialto Bridge is full of holes - and the holes are full of rats. A report in one of Venice's newspapers, La Nuova Venezia, claims that enormous rats have been seen emerging from fissures in the stones of the Bridge. This means that the inner structure has been at least partially excavated to form the tunnels and dens of rodents of 'grosse dimensioni'.


Recommended websites
www.argos.venezia.it  On this ingenious site you can see in actual time the traffic filmed at 14 telecameras around Venice. Each view is captioned by the number of vessels ('natanti') exceeding the speed limit.

October Books
Michael Chabon The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Kate Summerscale The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
Charles F. Walker, Smoldering Ashes : Cuzco and the creation of Republican Peru, 1780-1840
Charles F. Walker, Shaky colonialism : the 1746 earthquake-tsunami in Lima, Peru, and its long aftermath



  September 2008
Buzz, the 2008 Templar Press anthology, will feature poems by three writers from the Clink Street workshop, Pamela Johnson, Geraldine Paine and Sue Ehrhardt . All three will be reading from their works in the anthology at the Derwent Literary Festival in October. Geraldine Paine has been shortlisted for Canterbury Poet of the Year 2008.

September Books
Philipp Blom To Have and To Hold, An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting
Michael Chabon The Jewish Policemen’s Union
Hand Luggage Only - The anthology of the shortlisted poems and winners of the 2007 International Sonnet Competition, which includes work by Clink Street writers, Geraldine Paine and Pam Johnson, now available from Amazon.

Recommended websites
Relief from the searing heat of Ferragosto – Venice iced over in 1929. Click here to view the video.

http://wordsunlimited.typepad.com Welcome to the blogosphere! Novelist and poet Pam Johnson has just started a blog that muses on the process of writing amid the process of living.

www.venessia.com A site of cartoons, observations and Veneziana. This cartoon (left) from the site shows a journalist interviewing the architect Santiago Calatrava, whose controversy-dogged bridge is finally supposed to open in the next month. The cartoonist shows a bridge that doubles up on itself and returns to Venice. The architect explains to the interviewer that this is the Mayor’s idea for stopping the depopulation of Venice.


One of Adriana Rocca's Multitudes paintings.

  August 2008
Michelle Lovric was one of the judges of the semi-final round of The Institute of Ideas and Pfizer Debating Matters National Final 2008, held at the Wellcome Trust on July 5th. The subject was ‘Is the West Unfairly Demonising China?’ www.debatingmatters.com

PETA has offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the discovery of who drowned HMS’s Belfast’s ship’s cat, Kilo, in February this year. New CCTV footage of the suspects can be seen on the SE1 website.

Recommended websites
www.adrianarocca.com Adriana Rocca, whose studio is on Giudecca, does wonderful paintings of crowd scenes, in some ways rather reminiscent of Tintoretto's cast-of-thousands apocalypses - except that Adriana Rocca's crowds are from the world over, and gather together serenely. Each individual, even from the back of the head, is someone completely different. The artist was born in Argentina, but has lived in Venice for twelve years.

florizel.canalblog.com A beautiful French website about paper, fabric and things-in-boxes: many happy hours to be spent reading and admiring this site.

August Books
Nick Green Cat’s Paw
Albertine La Rumeur de Venise
J.C. Brown Carnival Masks of Venice – A Photographic Essay

A vintage quotation
Yes, it is very difficult to believe in Venice, most of all when one is in Venice.
New York Times, December 1, 1901


July 2008
Venice’s Mayor Massimo Cacciari has launched a poster campaign to ask people to drink the excellent tap-water in Venice, thereby avoiding the pollution caused by trucking in bottles of the designer stuff. Michelle Lovric has written a diary piece on this subject for the website of the English Writers in Italy. See www.englishwritersinitaly.com

July Books
Junot Diaz The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Liz Jensen The Ninth Life of Louis Drax
Rose Tremain The Road Home

Recommended websites
www.evamariaschoen.de a German artist who works with ink and fingers to create unusual and exquisite art.

www.albumdivenezia.it an archive of private and professional photographs of the terrible flood of 1966

The photograph (see left) from the Album di Venezia archive shows a frightened cat, drenched and trapped by the floodwater. It was taken in Castello by an anonymous photographer on November 4th, 1966.


  June 2008
Reminder, Diary Date
Michelle Lovric will be discussing Venice and writing about Venice with the Venetian author Tiziano Scarpa at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on July 10th. Tiziano’s Venice is a Fish has just been published in English.

Details here
7pm, Thursday 10th July
Tickets £5, free for members
Booking essential on 0207 396 4406

June Books
Edward Leeves Leaves from a Victorian Diary
Rumer Godden Pippa Passes
Baron Corvo The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole
L. & L. M. Ragg Things Seen in Venice
P. B. M. Allan The Book-Hunter at Home
Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas
Cesare Zangirolami Storie delle chiese dei monasteri delle scuole di Venezia rapinate e distrutte da Napoleone Bonaparte


Photographs by Giordano Russo and Aurelia S. Palmarin

    May 2008
Not to miss: Exhibition of mosaics in Venice.
Susan Adams Nickerson’s exhibition of exquisite, poignant mosaics opens on May 10th at the Giudecca 795 gallery.

The artist plays on three themes interwoven by the media of found objects, mosaics, ink and mortar. Venice is evoked in the theme of relics and reliquaries: small precious objects caught in glass. Literature is evoked by words in mosaic form: letters as tesserae, words as painting, and painting as words. The rhythms of the spoken word are preserved, expressing the artist’s conviction that writing is in itself art. Finally, the artist brings into play the nature of her own medium, the mosaic itself: an interplay of colour and texture, light and concealment, and softness and permanence.

Exhibition dates: May 10 – 1 June 2008
Hours of opening: Tuesday to Friday 15.30 – 20.00
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 – 12.00 and 15.30 – 20.00
Closed Mondays. Admission free.

The gallery is located midway between Hotel Hilton Stucky and Harry's Dolci. Take ACTV boat lines 41, 42, or 2 to "Palanca"; at the Palanca boat stop, turn right and walk along the fondamenta. After the Sant' Eufemia bridge, continue to number 795.

Tel (+39) 041 7241182 / (+39) 340 8798327 Fax (+39) 041 989614 www.giudecca795.com

Professor Giordano Russo has written this essay on her work.

More jewelled Venice
Last month Vicki Ambery-Smith’s Venetian ring caused quite a stir: so for May another jeweller, this time a native Venetian, whose work features natural forms and symbolic animals and fruits including many that can be found in Venetian paintings. A lizard, for example, is supposed to have the grace and wisdom of a snake without its venom. The pomegranate symbolises the unity of all the separate aspects of the Church, as well as fertility, and also resurrection. The scallop shell is the sign of pilgrimage. The Moor of course features in many places in Venice. There is much debate about the ethnic origins of the classic Venetian Moor, that one finds carved in wood, picked out in jewels, on door handles ('mascaron') all over the town, and of course immortalised in Shakespeare’s Othello. Are they from Morea? Is it Morocco? Or are the Moors of a middle-eastern provenance?

Carla Mattea Piccoli graduated in architecture at the Accademia di Belli Arti di Venezia and has worked in jewellery and graphic design. Since 1994 she’s worked in collaboration with the antiquario Oreste Cagnato, whose Antiquus shops are in San Samuele and San Vio. These jewels, reminiscent of Lalique’s creations but with a definite Venetian flavour, can be seen in the shops. More pictures are available on request from info@antiquus.it

New hotel in Venice

A beautiful new hotel has opened inside a well-known small palace on the Grand Canal.

Diary date
Michelle Lovric will be discussing Venice and writing about Venice with the Venetian author Tiziano Scarpa at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on July 10th. Tiziano’s Venice is a Fish has just been published in English.

May books
Jerffold M. Packard Farewell in Splendour, The Death of Queen Victoria and her Age.
Charles G. Leland Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, 1899

Recommended websites
Italian Cultural Institute

April 2008
Il Contatore dei Veneziani: Venetian-meter
The campaigning group Venessia.com has come up with a piquant way to mark the exodus of native Venetians from their city. On March 21st Venessia.com launched an illuminated digital display in the window of the historic Morelli pharmacy in San Bartolomeo. This display gives the number of Venetians in the city – on that day 60, 704. The display will be updated every week, using figures supplied by the Comune. The population of Venice has declined from a high of 175,000 in 1951.

Venice on your finger
Vicki Ambery-Smith makes extraordinary architectural jewellery. Venice features strongly in her work. Here is her latest ring, which shows the area around the church of Miracoli that was the home of the artist Cecilia Cornaro in Michelle Lovric’s novel Carnevale. Cecilia Cornaro also joined the cast of The Remedy and will make another appearance in the current work-in-progress The Book of Human Skin.
This sequence of photos shows the initial drawings, and then the unburnished work in progress and then the final ring, which is different from each angle.

See more of Vicki Ambery-Smith’s jewellery on her website: www.vickiamberysmith.co.uk

Initial drawings

Work in progress, before the bridges are added.
The finished ring

Seagull Fracas

If you don't see a video window above click here to view the
screaming seagulls video.

There appear to be many names for seagulls in Venice, and several breeds of bird.

Most dominant (vocally at least) are the ‘gabbiani reali’ or ‘royal seagulls. Is this the Yellow-legged gull Larus cacchinnans? The old Venetian name for the huge, aggressive gull is ‘Magòga’ (plural ‘Magòghe’). The word for ‘wizard’ in Italian is ‘Mago’ and some Italian believe that the cold glance of a gull has a magical power.

Then there are the ‘cocai’, singular ‘cocal’. Some sources say that this Venetian name refers to a smaller, less aggressive gull, of a different breed to the Magoghe, perhaps the black-headed gull Larus ridibundus. Others say the ‘cocal’ is merely a youngster of the ‘Magoga’ breed. Yet another source says that it is the masculine of the ‘Magoga’.

So which breed are the Magoghe? And which the smaller birds?
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus?
Little Gull Larus minutes?
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus?
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei?
Common Gull Larus canus?
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus?
Herring Gull Larus argentatus?
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans ?
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus?
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla?

If any reader has further information to contribute on this subject, please contact this site.

Meanwhile, William Dean Howells, in his inimitable Venetian Life, speaks of how the seagulls give voice to the full desolation of winter in the town:
...but the only creatures which seemed really to enjoy the weather were the seagulls. These birds, which flock into the city in vast numbers at the first approach of cold, and, sailing up and down the canals between the palaces, bring to the dwellers in the city a full sense of mid-ocean forlornness and desolation, now rioted on the savage winds, with harsh cries, and danced upon the waves of the bitter brine, with a clamorous joy that had something eldritch and unearthly in it.
April Books

Giuseppe Tassini Curiosità Veneziane
Tiziano Scarpa Venice is a Fish
Tiziano Scarpa Corpo

Recommended Websites
www.venessia.com Venetian website of information, pictures and campaigns (see news above).
www.newsontherialto.org  Cultural exchange for Venetian scholars.
www.retemediterranea.com Pioneering a museum of the lagoon.
www.italiantalk.com A London-based service offering translation from English, French and Spanish into Italian.


  March 2008
Writing Notes
The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, writing in 1983, reflected on the different kinds of relationships that a writer can have with his or her work. The novelist Juan Carlos Onetti once said that the difference between him and me as writers was that I had a matrimonial relationship with literature whereas he had an adulterous relationship with it.

Venetian Curiosities
The parish of San Samuele, which today includes the churches of San Samuele, of Santo Stefano and the deconsecrated San Vidal (left) was the subject of a vulgar song at one time:

Contrada piccola, grande bordel;
Senza ponti, cattive campane,
Omini becchi e donne putane.

Small as it is, it’s a great big brothel
Without bridges, its bells all jangly
The men are cuckolds and the women whores …

Poets from the Clink Street workshop have been recognised this past month. Carol DeVaughn has won second place in the Torriano Poets competition, in which Geraldine Paine was Recommended, and Pam Johnson and Geraldine Paine have been shortlisted in The Open Poetry Sonnet Competition

March Books
Octavio Paz Sor Juana, or The traps of faith. 1988
Stephen Haliczer Between Exaltation and Infamy, 2002
Kathryn Burns Colonial Habits: Convents and the
Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru, 1999
Susan E. Dinan and Debra Meyers (eds)
Women and Religion in Old and New Worlds, 2001
Martin Luis Daughters of the Conquistadores, 1983
Mita Choudhury Convents and Nuns in Eighteenth-century
French Politics and Culture, 2004


Happy New Year! January 1st 2008: the sun catches the
halo of an angel on the church of  San Vidal, Venice. 
Photo: Graham Morrison
  February 2008
Michelle Lovric was interviewed by Daphne Guinness for the Sydney Morning Herald on her research into museums around the world. The piece was published in the January 1st edition. Click here to read it.

A thought-provoking comment on the British book industry by
A.L. Kennedy, on winning the Costa prize for a best novel:
It's such a funny climate at the moment. Getting this does mean you're at least more likely to be in the bookshops. There are greater numbers of a smaller range of books, we are trying to disassemble our culture and normally only an occupying force would do that. I'm more annoyed at things from the point of view of a British reader than a writer.

February Books
Indra Sinha Animal’s People
Linda Newbery Catcall
Hilary Mantel Beyond Black
E.H. Ruddock Homœopathic Vade Mecum Medical & Surgical, 1893
Pierce Egan Real Life In London, Volumes I and II
Or, The Rambles And Adventures Of Bob Tallyho, Esq., And
His Cousin, The Hon. Tom Dashall, Through The Metropolis;
Exhibiting A Living Picture Of Fashionable Characters,
Manners, And Amusements In High And Low Life, 1821
Unknown Sinks of London Laid Open - A Pocket Companion for the Uninitiated, to Which is Added a Modern Flash Dictionary Containing all the Cant Words, Slang Terms, and Flash Phrases Now in Vogue, with a List of the Sixty Orders of Prime Coves, 1848

Recommended Websites
A blog about Victorian London from the excellent novelist and historian Lee Jackson, the creator of www.victorianlondon.org, also recommended

Alberto Toso Fei’s site with ghost stories and legends about Venice.


  January 2008
Michelle Lovric has become a consultant editor for The Writers' Workshop which offers manuscript assessment and editorial services to first-time or unpublished novelists and poets. For more details see the website:  www.writersworkshop.co.uk

Recommended Websites
Award-winning novelist and short-story writer with a fascinating blog.

Wine and food writer and expert on the ladies of Sherlock Holmes.

A new website from the creator of www.fictionalcities.com: a much- needed English-language guide to Venice's churches.

January Books
Alexei Sayle The Dog-Catcher
Michelle Paver Wolf Brother
Mary Hamer Incest, a new perspective
Phillis Cunnington and Anne Buck
Children’s Costume in England 1300-1900



Click here to read News 2007


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