I love the word, “centenary,” defined as:
In American English we use “centennial” more often, but I prefer “centenary” mostly because of the way it sounds when spoken by a BBC radio presenter (“[sen-tee-nuh-ree]”).
So anyway. There’s a centenary coming in 2012, and it involves one of my favorite authors: Elizabeth Taylor, the British novelist. I learned of this milestone a while ago when dovegreyreader wrote, “2012 will be the centenary of Elizabeth Taylor’s birth and so I thought I would gently make my way through the books again in preparation. Not as a chore or a challenge, more a pleasurable meander much better suited to a writer whose books I find it impossible to rush”
I thought to myself, “ooh, yes, I’d like to do the same.” To get started, I took a “pleasurable meander” through my LibraryThing catalog to see which books I own, and which ones I haven’t read yet. Elizabeth Taylor published 17 books: 12 novels & 5 collections of short stories. The list below is in order of publication; details of each book are available via the above link to my catalog. In the list, a ✓ shows those I’ve read (reviews can be found on my Elizabeth Taylor page), and ✹ denotes books I own but have yet to read.
- At Mrs. Lippincote’s (1945) ✓
- Palladian (1946) ✓
- A View of the Harbour (1947) ✓
- A Wreath of Roses (1949)
- A Game of Hide and Seek (1951) ✹
- The Sleeping Beauty (1953) ✹
- Hester Lilly (1954) – short stories
- Angel ✹
- The Blush and Other Stories (1958) – short stories ✹
- In a Summer Season (1961) ✓
- The Soul of Kindness (1964) ✹
- A Dedicated Man and Other Stories (1965) – short stories
- The Wedding Group (1968)
- Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (1971) ✓
- The Devastating Boys (1972) – short stories ✹
- Blaming (1976) ✹
- Dangerous Calm (1995) – short stories
With 7 unread books on my shelves, I have plenty of opportunity to honor Elizabeth Taylor by reading her work in 2012. But why not do so in the company of friends? I’ve invited members of the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics Group to celebrate along with me. We will read and discuss one book each month during 2012. Books will be chosen quarterly via an online poll. I’m going to set up the polls in a way that has us reading somewhat chronologically.
I like the idea of focusing on an author over a year’s time (similar to my 2011 Iris Murdoch project, which I’ll write more about soon). And I’m so excited about reading Elizabeth Taylor, I’ve decided to read The Soul of Kindness next month, even though it might end up being chosen for a group read later.
I recognize the voting process may also result in reading books I don’t own. Is that a problem? Heck no! Since all of Taylor’s work is available in Virago Modern Classics editions, and since Virago plans to re-issue some of her books in 2012, I have an excuse (as if I needed one) to expand my collection!
If you’d like to read more Elizabeth Taylor, or discover her work, I hope you’ll consider joining the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics Group. I also plan to publish the voting results here and if I really get my act together, I’ll post about the group reads as well.
I hope you’ll join me next year to honor a wonderful author!
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.