Anne Sebba

Anne Sebba is a biographer, lecturer and presenter and former Reuters’ foreign correspondent. She has written eight acclaimed books including That Woman and Jennie Churchill and is Chair of the Society of Authors.

Review of the Year

Hephzibah Anderson, Michael Joseph and Anne Sebba, chaired by Gerald Jacobs discussed the highlights and lowlights in Jewish writing since JBW 2002.

The Ethics of Biography
Biography is one of the great literary growth areas, reaching a huge number of readers. But how do authors deal with the scandals, rivalries, secrets and lies they may come across in the course of their work? Is it a question of publish and be damned? Or should the subject’s privacy always be respected? Tom Bower is the country’s bestselling biographer of contemporary public figures, renowned for his no-holds-barred approach. Michael Freedland has published several authoris...
In Search of the Real Leonard Woolf

Victoria Glendinning spoke to Anne Sebba about Leonard Woolf, exploring his career as a writer, novelist and political thinker, his devotion to his wife Virginia and his complicated relationship with his Jewishness. Henry Goodman read passages from Woolf’s fiction and non fiction, some of it unpublished today.

Sea of Azov
“The dark menace lurking in the best fairy tales is never far from the surface…” JBW 2009 launched World Jewish Relief’s first ever collection of short stories. Jewish and non-Jewish writers from Britain, Israel and North America came together to support WJR and to tell their tales, trying to make fictional sense of the previous century and the century just beginning to evolve. This book has been given the title of The Sea of Azov, after both the birthplace of C...
Day after Night

The author of the Red Tent told us about her new mesmerising new novel, Day after Night, a story of friendship set in a camp in Palestine between four women who each has her own tale to tell of surviving the war in a different European country. She also spoke about the significance of Judaism in her life.

That Woman
Twenty five years after her death, Wallis Simpson exerts a more powerful fascination than ever. That Woman is the first full scale biography written by a woman about the Duchess of Windsor, one of the most glamorous and vilified women of the last century and a key character in the recent blockbuster film,The King’s Speech. In order to understand the real person behind the iconic image, historian Anne Sebba explored the mind and motivations of this enigmatic American divorcee who near...
We Are Here: Voices from Lithuania
American journalist Ellen Cassedy travelled to the land of her forbears, and found herself face to face with memory and moral dilemmas. From a modest quest to learn Yiddish in Vilnius, her personal journey expanded. She explored Lithuania’s efforts to build a civil and tolerant society over the traces of a bloody history, where many people today claim no knowledge of the tragic annihilation, or former life, of the Jews. “If you ask people about the silver spoons in their parlor...
Alison Macleod Unexploded

Brighton, summer 1940. Fear of invasion brings unspoken desires to the surface as a middle-class English family anxiously awaits news. Geoffrey falls in love with a prostitute he suspects is a Jew; Evelyn is attracted to a “degenerate” German-Jewish painter held in an internment camp. An exploration of chaos and xenophobia in an ordinary town, Unexploded was long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Thomas Harding Hanns and Rudolf
It was only at his great-uncle’s funeral that Thomas Harding learned of his German relative’s extraordinary past. Hanns Alexander, an officer in the British army, was the man who tracked down and helped bring to justice the Commandant of Auschwitz. Harding tells for the first time the story of the capture of Rudolf Höss at the end of World War II by the German-born Jew. Hanns and Rudolf is an astonishing tale of parallel and intersecting lives. Sponsored by Dr Naim Dangoor CBE, Fo...
Sarah Helm on Ravensbrück and David Cesarani on Germany 1933-49
Ravensbrück was the only concentration camp with solely female occupants; today it is barely known. Sarah Helm has written the definitive account of the camp, singling out many acts of heroism among the atrocities.Drawing on newly-translated testaments and research, David Cesarani’s Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-49 demonstrates the surprising lack of inevitability in the events that culm...
Linda Grant, Julia Neuberger and Anne Sebba on a Lost Classic
2015 marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of GB Stern, the little-known, but influential author of The Matriarch. The book, originally published in 1924, was the first of a series of novels to explore the scandalous life of a west London Jewish family at the dawn of the 20th century. Linda Grant, who has called it “a feminist classic”, discusses the novel’s lasting significance with Rabbi Julia...
Caroline Moorehead and Edward Stourton: French Resistance
Caroline Moorehead’s Village of Secrets is a gripping and penetrating account of the villagers of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon who risked (and sometimes lost) their lives to save several thousand Jewish fugitives from being deported by the Vichy regime. Broadcaster Edward Stourton’s Cruel Crossing recounts the exploits and extraordinary valour of a desperate collection of disparate people, united only in their ...
Scandalous Socialites

Natalie Livingstone’s captivating The Mistresses of Cliveden and Claudia Renton’s Those Wild Wyndhamsprovide two fascinating chronicles of the ways in which exceptional women challenged, evaded and exploited the expectations of their times. Anne Sebba facilitates this exploration of sex and power, passion and romance, dramatic lives and tragic devastation.

KL: A History of Nazi Concentration Camps
In a landmark work of history, winner of the JQ/Wingate Prize,Nikolaus Wachsmann, offers an unprecedented, integrated account of the Nazi concentration camps from their inception in 1933 through to their demise in the spring of 1945. KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps is described by Mark Mazower as ‘history writing of the highest order’ and ‘surely one of the outstanding books written on the Third Reich in the past decade.’ Chaired by ...
Forgotten Fictions: The Wise Virgins

JBW joins forces with the Society of Authors to celebrate Persephone Press’s new edition of Leonard Woolf’s forgotten classic, The Wise Virgins. Written on the Woolfs’ honeymoon in 1912, the semi-autobiographical novel examining moral, personal and social dilemmas is discussed by founder of Persephone Books Nicola Beaumann and literary biographer Lyndall Gordon, with Anne Sebba.

The Women of Paris
Anne Sebba’s compelling new book, Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s, investigates the lives of women in this most feminine of cities during years of fear, courage, deprivation, secrets and, finally, renewal and retribution. Her fascinating cast includes Americans, Nazis, writers, painters, journalists, couturiers, spies, collaborators, mothers and mistresses. In enthralling detail Sebba explores the aftershock of WW2. How did women who survive...
The Refusal to be Vanquished

Refusing to be defined by the tragic events of WW2, two remarkable women reveal their inimitable life stories. Patron of the Arts Rosa Lipworth and Dorit Oliver-Wolff, whose memoir From Yellow Star to Pop Star recounts the story of her rise to fame in post-war Berlin, talk to author and journalist Anne Sebba.

In Association with the Holocaust Educational Trust.

This event has live speech-to-text subtitling provided by StageTEXT.

Travellers In the Third Reich
During the 1920s and 1930s, German tourism was booming, particularly among Americans and the British. Attracted by the scenery, the food, the culture, and the favourable exchange rates, they also came to witness the rise of Hitler. Julia Boyd’s book, including extracts from her mother’s 1938 diary, offers an exceptional insight into the period. Based on first-hand accounts by foreigners, Julia Boyd gives voice to a wide range of people, from students, politicians, facists and communists, ...
City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir
1930s Shanghai: in the years before the Japanese invaded, the city was a haven for outlaws from all over the world; a place where pasts could be forgotten, fascism and communism outrun, names invented, fortunes made – and lost. Award-winning author Paul French offers a spellbinding account of Shanghai’s lawless 1930s, and two of its most notorious criminals who bestrode the city like kings: ‘Lucky’ Jack Riley, an ex-Navy boxing champion; and ‘Dapper’ Joe Fa...
Speaking of Murder
International bestselling author Anthony Horowitz talks about his ‘infectiously zestful’ novel, The Sentence is Death. Richard Pryce is a phenomenally successful divorce lawyer, living on the edge of Hampstead Heath. When he is found murdered, the police, baffled by the strange circumstances of his death, are forced to hand the case to Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne, who takes it on with characteristic relish. But, as Hawthorne investigates, he finds his own life is in dan...