Posts Tagged ‘The Spoken Word: British Writers’

spoken-wordsLet’s all thank our lucky stars for the enlightened souls at the BBC who saved eight minutes of Virginia Woolf’s recorded voice. It is the only recording of her voice that has survived from the three broadcasts she did for the BBC in the 1930s.

Now Woolf’s voice, along with those of other great writers of the 20th century, can be heard in its entirety for the first time on a three-disc set of CDs produced by the British Library called “The Spoken Word: British Writers.”

The set features the voices of 30 British writers and includes many previously unpublished recordings. Another set, “The Spoken Word: American Writers,” features 27 authors from the U.S.

When Woolf’s recordings were made, people simply didn’t keep radio broadcasts, according to Richard Fairman of the British Library. “They went out on the air and that was it; they were lost forever,” Fairman told NPR‘s Melissa Block.

“The recording of Woolf is nothing like the interviews common on the radio today,” he said.

Hearing the voices of famous authors on CD is “not quite as good as having them walk up to you, but it’s not bad,” he told the Telegraph.

You can listen to Woolf talk about “Craftsmanship” in the series “Words Fail Me,” which was broadcast on the BBC April 29, 1937, here.

On You Tube, you can watch a video featuring a record spinning on a turntable that gives us eight minutes of Vita Sackville-West reading from her prize-winning poem “The Land.” The recording was made by Columbia in 1931 for the International Education Society.

You can also search the British Library’s online archive of more than 1,500 sound recordings that it has made here.

Read more in brief about the British Library CD sets of famous authors in the London Review of Books, Time and the Telegraph.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: