An interview with Paul Binding
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Paul Binding is a British writer who has worked in many fields: he is a literary critic, novelist, reviewer and renowned expert in Scandinavian literature. His novels are Harmonica’s Bridegroom (1984, recently reprinted by Valancourt Books), Kingfisher Weather (1989), My Cousin the Writer (2002) and After Brock (2013). He has given lectures at universities and participated in cultural events in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia. His memoir St Martin’s Ride, which focuses on his childhood in Germany soon after the end of the Second World War, was Sir Stephen Spender’s Book of the Year, and was awarded the J.R. Ackerley Prize for the best autobiographical book of 1990. He has frequently spent long periods abroad, and his time in Jackson, Mississipi as a visiting professor led to The Still Moment: Eudora Welty, Portrait of a Writer (1994). The book draws on the many conversations he had with Welty about her work. More recently, he published Imagined Corners: Exploring the World’s First Atlas (2003). He has frequently reviewed books for the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent. His most recent book is Hans Christian Andersen: European Witness (2014), which was very well reviewed and described by Amanda Craig in the Literary Review as his best work yet. An in-depth and wide-ranging literary biography, it sets Andersen’s work within a European context and pays close attention to his unjustly neglected work outside the fairy tales, such as the novel Improvisatore, which Binding argues was a great influence on Charles Dickens. I met and became friends with Paul through our mutual interest in the novelist Barbara Pym, and have since had many discussions with him about writers; he was the plenary speaker at the Barbara Pym Centenary Conference I organised in 2013. He lives in the beautiful small town of Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, in the Welsh Marches – the border country of England and Wales. His website is http://www.paulbinding.co.uk/index.html.