Hemingway’s wives and the notorious Marshalsea - a heady cocktail at Ditchling

Naomi Wood
Naomi Wood

The Book Lovers’ Supper Club in Ditchling on April 2 will play host to two very different but equally fascinating authors.

Naomi Wood is author of Mrs Hemingway, the story of Ernest Hemingway and the four extraordinary women who married him.

Antonia Hodgson

Antonia Hodgson

Research for Mrs Hemingway took Naomi Wood to Chicago, Boston, Key West, Cuba and Paris, and she spent five months as a fully-funded resident scholar at Washington DC’s Library of Congress.

Antonia Hodgson’s hotly-tipped debut novel is The Devil in the Marshalsea, set in London in 1727 and depicting the seamier underbelly of Georgian England.

Seven years after the South Sea Bubble exploded and thousands were bankrupted, the debtors’ prisons were overflowing, providing splendid business opportunities for those in charge of them.

The inmates of the notorious Marshalsea Prison were by definition debtors and bankrupts, but family and friends could usually lend them enough money to stave off the worst terrors of confinement, such as being sent ‘over the wall’ to the ‘Common Side’, which ahs been likened to “a reeking nightmare of a place”.

The Book Lovers’ Supper Club meets about every two months in The Barn in Ditchling.

“My aim is to bring exciting authors to mid-Sussex to create a fun but informative evening for those who love food and books as much as I do,” says founder Melanie Whitehouse.

“Everyone is welcome, whether alone or in a group. This is a place to meet other book lovers and enjoy listening to some of Britain’s top writers.”

A Middle Eastern-style supper created by Brighton caterer Sultans Delight plus a free glass of wine or fruit cordial is followed by a talk, interview and conversation with two well-known authors, and the chance for members of the audience to get involved. Discounted copies of the authors’ books are supplied by The Mint House, Hurstpierpoint.

The supper club at The Barn on Ditchling Village Green on April 2 starts at 6.45pm and runs until 9.30pm.

Tickets cost £20 from Brighton Dome Ticket Office or in person from The Post Office, Ditchling, or The Mint House, Hurstpierpoint.