The literary podcast presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller. Brought to you by Unbound. Visit Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


May 29, 2023 63 mins

For this episode we are joined by the critic and former literary editor of the Independent on Sunday, Suzi Feay and the novelist and former Deputy Literary Editor of the Observer, Stephanie Merritt. Both are fans of the history-cum-detective story, Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, by the late great historian of English Catholicism, John Bossy.

The book was a departure from Bossy’s weightier academic publications – in it he att...

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The whole of the next hour and a bit is dedicated to the work of Graham Greene – a writer we have long wanted to tackle. We cover several representative pieces – not necessarily the most famous of Greene’s work – and try to apply a fresh perspective to his long and sometimes controversial career.

We start somewhere near the beginning with The Name of Action from 1930, a book Greene himself wanted suppressed…

The books feat...

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Rachel Cooke, Observer writer, New Statesman TV critic and author joined John, Andy and former host Mathew way back in 2016 to discuss All The Devils Are Here, the astounding travelogue through Kent and the depths of human behaviour from David Seabrook. Plus, the drinking habits of Carry On stars, and what to read in Iceland.

Timings (may differ if adverts are included)

07'44 - Dalva by Jim Harrison

12'48 - Life and Death of Harri...

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April 17, 2023 59 mins

Welcome to the fourth Backlisted Special. While Andy and Nicky are both ‘gathering’ for the new season which will resume at the end of the month, John and Tess are joined by the writers and critics Erica Wagner and Sarah Churchwell who boast a total of 12 previous appearances between them, covering books from Alan Garner and Nella Larsen to Thomas Pynchon and Anita Loos.

The format of these specials differs from the main show in...

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John introduces a rerun of an episode from November 2016, where Costa First Book nominee for My Name Is Leon, Kit de Waal joins John & Andy to discuss So Long, See You Tomorrow, the final novel by author and New Yorker literary editor William Maxwell.

Rough Timings: 

11'27 - You Took the Last Bus Home: The Poems of Brian Bilston

17'43 - My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal

24'47 - So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell


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March 20, 2023 65 mins

Welcome to the third Backlisted Special. John and Nicky are joined by literary agents Becky Brown and Norah Perkins returning for their third appearance, having previously discussed the work of Barbara Pym and Dorothy B. Hughes. Becky and Norah are joint custodians of the Curtis Brown Heritage list of literary estates, so they have selected seven books from the archive – by women novelists, queer gardeners and anti-fascists - that ...

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This is the third in our re-released episodes – and only the second one we ever recorded. Has Jean Rhys’s reputation and influence grown since then? Does a seven-year-old Backlisted still pass muster? All this (and more) are considered in Andy’s new introduction. Enjoy!

John and Andy are joined by novelist Linda Grant and Unbound's Mathew Clayton to discuss Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys, first published in 1939. ...

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February 20, 2023 62 mins

Welcome to our second Backlisted special of 2023. Today we’re joined by the best-selling writer Una McCormack, returning for a record-breaking ninth appearance, having most recently participated in the Christmas episode dedicated to Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield.

These specials are designed to fill the gap until the show proper returns in April. They differ from the usual Backlisted format in that they feature just...

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In memory of Raymond Briggs we are replaying the episode where John and Andy were joined by author-illustrator Nadia Shireen and writer Andrew Male for a smellybration of Fungus the Bogeyman (1977) by the great Raymond Briggs. The much-loved and bestselling picture book Andrew describes as "the children's Anatomy of Melancholy". We consider Briggs's life and work in full: Father Christmas, The Snowman, When the Wind Blows, Ethel &a...

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Welcome to our first Backlisted special of 2023. Today we’re joined by the award-winning novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, an official friend of Backlisted, who returns for the first time since his appearance on the Christmas 2021 episode on The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, one of our most popular shows. These specials are designed to fill the gap until the show proper returns in April. They differ from the usual...

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In memory of the great Carmen Callil, we are replaying the first of her two appearances on Backlisted. Joining Andy and John in this episode is Carmen Callil, the legendary publisher and writer, who is best know for founding the Virago Press in 1972. Once described by the Guardian as ‘part-Lebanese, part-Irish and wholly Australian’, Carmen settled in London in 1964 advertising herself in The Times as ‘Australian, B.A. wants job in...

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December 24, 2022 91 mins

Merry Christmas Everyone! This year’s Backlisted Christmas special celebrates Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, a classic of children’s literature and the childhood favourite of our producer, Nicky Birch. We are joined by the writer Una McCormack and Tanya Kirk, the Lead Curator of Printed Heritage Collections (1601-1900) at the British Library, who are both lifetime Streatfeild fans. Ballet Shoes was an immediate bestseller upon p...

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December 12, 2022 66 mins

The Awakening is an American classic, first published in 1899. The novel’s focus is the inner life of Edna Pontellier, a 29 year-old a married woman and mother of two boys, whose husband Léonce is a New Orleans businessman of Louisiana Creole heritage. The book’s notoriety derives from Edna’s refusal to accept the role that American society of the late 19th century has allocated to her. After the controversy that greeted it on publ...

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November 28, 2022 61 mins

The Ice Palace or Is-slottet by Tarjei Vesaas is a 20th century classic by one of Norway’s greatest modern writers. First published by Gyldendal in 1963, it went on to win the Nordic Council Literary Prize in 1964. In 1966, it was published in Elizabeth Rokkan’s English translation by Peter Owen who described it as the best novel he ever published. To discuss it we’re joined by friend of the show Max Porter – who’s surprised it isn...

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November 14, 2022 69 mins

There can be few writers more deserving of Backlisted’s attention than the Irish writer, Maeve Brennan. An adopted New Yorker, Brennan died there in 1993 and was by that time so thoroughly forgotten in her native land, that she received no obituaries in any Irish papers. We are joined by the writers Sinéad Gleason and David Hayden to discuss her collection, The Springs of Affection – subtitled ‘stories of Dublin’ – which was first ...

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This Hallowe’en episode of Backlisted focusses on the collection of ‘uncanny’ stories by Henry James, first gathered together under the title The Altar of the Dead and Other Tales to form the seventeenth volume of the New York Edition of his Collected Works in 1917. We are joined, as ever, by our resident spook-master Andrew Male, and by acclaimed novelist and Henry James aficionado Tessa Hadley. We each choose a story to present a...

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October 17, 2022 71 mins

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by the Irish travel writer Dervla Murphy was first published in 1965 and is the first of Dervla Murphy’s twenty-six books. It's a journal she kept on the 3,500 mile, six-month journey she made by bicycle from her home in Lismore, Ireland to Delhi in India in 1963, Ireland, traversing Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on her trusty bike, Ros. Joining us to discuss...

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Roadside Picnic, first published in 1972, is the best-known work of Russia’s most famous modern science fiction writers, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, together the authors of 26 novels and scores of short stories. To discuss it we are joined by the writer and radio presenter Jennifer Lucy Allan, and the publisher and translator Ilona Chavasse. The book is based on the premise that Earth has been briefly visited by an alien civilis...

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September 19, 2022 85 mins

North and South is Elizabeth Gaskell’s fourth novel and considered by many to be her best. It tells the story of Margaret Hale, a principled young middle-class woman from the rural South whose family are obliged to re-settle in the Northern industrial town of Milton. Joining us to discuss the novel’s contemporary relevance, are two new guests: Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad and Nell Stevens, author of the memo...

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September 5, 2022 69 mins

Authors Jay Griffiths and Geoff Dyer are our guests for a discussion of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Annie Dillard was only twenty-nine when her first prose book was published in 1974; it went onto win the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction the following year. To discuss this classic of observational nature writing and spiritual enquiry, we are joined by two writers making their Backlisted debuts: Jay Griffiths, the author of Wild: An Elem...

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