Faber bags feminist history of 'trailblazing' composers

Faber bags feminist history of 'trailblazing' composers

Faber has triumphed in a heated six-way UK auction for two works of non-fiction by a "dazzling" young musicologist". 

Editor Ella Griffiths acquired world all language rights from John Ash at PEW for two books by Dr Leah Broad, an Oxford academic.

Her debut, Quartet, is a radical feminist history of four "trailblazing" women composers, slated for publication in spring 2023.

The synopsis explains: "In their day, Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell and Doreen Carwithen were celebrities; now, they are ghostly presences in our music histories, on the margins of the classical canon. With a panoramic sweep – encompassing the suffragette movement and two world wars, from London to New York – Dr Broad's majestic group biography resurrects their extraordinary lives and music for a new generation."

Broad is a junior research fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She  has appeared on BBC Radio 3, at the Proms and the Hay Festival. Winner of the Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism, she is also the founder of the Oxford Culture Review and runs a podcast called "Notes on Notes".

Commenting on the deal, she said: "We’re at a turning point in classical music. Thanks to years of campaigning, women composers are slowly being better represented in our concerts and recordings. These performances are showing us just how much incredible music we’ve been missing and how limited our histories have been. Smyth, Clarke, Howell and Carwithen wrote phenomenal music and led fascinating lives that we have a lot to learn from today. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Ella and the wonderful team at Faber to share their stories with the world. There’s so much work to do before we achieve anything like gender equality and I hope this book will be another step along that road."

Griffiths added: "We instantly fell in love with Dr Broad's storytelling magic. She brings you so close to these musical pioneers, whether rebellious eccentrics, young prodigies or reclusive geniuses. Her stunning analysis makes you want to listen to their glorious pieces immediately and reveals how these creative experiments illuminate the gender dynamics of the classical music world, past and present. A rising superstar of a musicologist, we are so proud to publish Dr Broad at Faber and can't wait for readers to experience her writing."

Ash said: "From the very first paragraphs of her proposal, I knew that Leah was a remarkable talent: an exquisite writer and outstanding researcher, possessed of that rare gift of bringing her subjects completely and charmingly to life. I couldn’t be happier that she and the tremendous women composers of Quartet have found their perfect home with Ella and the team at Faber."