Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 8 July 2014, Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch, leads a discussion on George Eliot’s Middlemarch.
What was your inspiration for choosing Middlemarch?
I first read Middlemarch at seventeen, and have read it roughly every five years or so since, my emotional response to it evolving at each revisiting. In my forties, I decided to spend more time with the book and to explore the ways in which it seems to have woven itself into my life: hence my own book, My Life In Middlemarch.
Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
Not exactly, but getting my first story published in a national newspaper at the age of eleven in a contest for young would-be journalists—and getting paid for it—must have been a motivating factor.
Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
The best book I can think of that gets into the mind of a thirteen or fourteen year old is Huckleberry Finn, so please may I have Mark Twain?
What is your secret talent?
I used to be able to charm children with my ability to walk on my hands. Then I had my own child, and ever since my balance hasn’t been what it used to be. Luckily, my son doesn’t require charming.
With what word do you most identify?
For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter and Facebook. Read previous interviews with Word for Word Book Club guest speakers.