Joanna Biggs

Joanna Biggs worked at the LRB from 2005 to 2021. Her book about work, All Day Long, was published in 2015.

Theproblem with biography is that it’s impossible. Have you ever tried to write down the thoughts, the emotions, the memories that bubble up in a person over sixty seconds; where she is; what she’s wearing; what she can smell, taste and hear; who she’s with; what she’s saying; not to mention what contribution this 0.069 per cent of a day is making to the meaning of...

Atthe end of the Catacombs, having walked among the bones of six million Parisians, you come to a single gravestone. Somewhere in the ossuary are the remains of Racine, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre and Montesquieu, yet the only monument is to Françoise Gillain, who, you discover, died in 1821 after spending years trying to free a writer unjustly held in the Bastille. Arriving at...

Pure, Fucking Profit: ‘Assembly’

Joanna Biggs, 15 July 2021

It’sa while since I saw Cléo de 5 à 7, but I remember that it opens with a tarot spread. The tarot reader draws cards in groups of three, for past, present and future. The young woman with her, Cléo Victoire, her blonde hair elaborately curled back onto her head like a Parisian Dusty Springfield, bites her fingers, covers her face, and after confessing that...

From The Blog
31 March 2021

‘If ever there was a book calculated to make a man in love with its author,’ William Godwin wrote in 1798 of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, ‘this appears to me to be the book.’ Mary’s aim was off: she was trying to get back an errant lover but ended up ensorcelling Godwin instead. Falling in love with someone through their writing is slow and delicious and sad, like sighing gently over the years at a screen actor, like, say, the guy whose cheekbones and tousle stare out at me from a postcard on my fridge door, and who now stares out from the back cover of A Bright Ray of Darkness, his new novel – Ethan Hawke. 

From The Blog
8 January 2021

At the start of the third lockdown, I wonder: what if lockdowns suit me? And I worry: shouldn’t it be easier now to understand what they do to my thoughts? Every day, I go out to walk under the bare trees and listen to one of the two albums Taylor Swift made last year: folklore, which came out in July, and evermore, which came out in December. (I’m not the only one: evermore is currently the number one album in the US, and number two in the UK.) The songs are a product of lockdown – Swift wrote them in the blank space that opened up when a tour had to be cancelled – but they are also of lockdown in the way they use a trace of the life before, a line like ‘meet me behind the mall,’ to conjure a world.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences