For thousands of years, those on the fringes of society have used sewing to document their experiences. University of Dundee graduate, Clare Hunter unravels some of these stories in her new book, Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle.
Published this week, the book chronicles politics, power, protest and memories of men and women who have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard, including stories of Mary Queen of Scots and survivors of World War One.
Clare Hunter, who graduated from the MLitt Writing Practice and Study course in 2014, says that the idea for her book originated while she was studying in Dundee.
She said, “Threads of Life was born at the University of Dundee. Under the leadership of Professor Kirsty Gunn, the writing seminars were vigorous and challenging, always developing our confidence and creative writing potential.
“When it came to my final dissertation I decided to begin the book I had always yearned to write; a book that explored the social, emotional and political significance of sewing. It seemed an unlikely subject for a best seller but, with the encouragement of Kirsty and the faith of my agent Jenny Brown, I wrote the book and was delighted to be published by Sceptre at Hodder & Stoughton.”
Clare’s book has been highly-acclaimed in reviews and chosen as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, airing this week.
Clare added, “Threads of Life would never have come into being without the support of my tutors at Dundee. It is their achievement as much as my own.”
Professor Kirsty Gunn, Director of the Creative Writing programme at the University, said, “I saw the possibilities in this book way back when Clare was working on some pieces of text about sewing for her dissertation. In my mind’s eye, right from the beginning, I saw her whole book and I am delighted for Clare.”
Clare’s work is the latest in a string of recent successes for alumni of the creative writing programme at the University, and there’s more to follow this year. Sandra Ireland’s third novel The Unmaking of Ellie Rook out in July, has made it to the Scottish Book Trust’s list of the top 33 Scottish Novels to look out for in 2019.
Thread of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle will be published on 7 February 2019 in hardback by Sceptre at £20, eBook and audiobook available.