Frances Stonor Saunders

Frances Stonor Saunders is the author of The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, which was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award, received the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Memorial Prize, and was translated into ten languages. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, as well as The Guardian and The Independent. She lives in London.

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Frances Stonor Saunders on her book The Woman Who Shot Mussolini

Hear author Frances Stonor Saunders talk about her book The Woman Who Shot Mussolini. In this elegant work of reconstruction, she retrieves a remarkable figure from the lost historical record, a woman who sought to forestall catastrophe, whatever the cost.

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Q & A

Where are you from?
London, England

Who are your favorite writers?
Jose Saramago, William Golding, Virginia Woolf, H E Bates, Stefan Zweig, Raymond Carver, Muriel Spark, Studs Terkel, Peter Conrad, Laurence Sterne, Wilkie Collins, Italo Calvino, William Faulkner, Hilary Mantel

What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Skiing, movies, photography, walking, preferably in very remote places, anything to do with Italian food

What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Don’t be afraid to start writing: just spread it all out on the kitchen table and start joining up the paragraphs. Muriel Spark, a friend and mentor when I was living in Italy. AND Craig Raine, also a friend and mentor: Relax, and think subconsciously.

What is your favorite quote?
“Truth, truth, nobody’s daughter, jumped out of the boat and into the water.”

What inspired you to write your first book?
The people who kept telling me ‘that’s an old story’ and advised me not to write it (on the largely untold story of the CIA’s covert programme of cultural warfare during the Cold War).

Where do you write?
In a shed under a chestnut tree in a garden in Oxford. The falling chestnuts hitting the roof in autumn keep me awake.


by the author

The Woman Who Shot Mussolini

Frances Stonor Saunders

At 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7, 1926, a woman stepped out of the crowd on Rome’s Campidoglio Square and shot Mussolini at point-blank range. He escaped...

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