Katharine Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Virginia Woolf’s modernist masterpiece To the Lighthouse in the comfort of an English sitting room, and in the companionable silence she shared with her father. After his death—a calamity that claimed her favorite person—she returned to that beloved novel as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief.
Smyth’s story moves between the New England of her childhood and Woolf’s Cornish shores and Bloomsbury squares, exploring universal questions about family, loss, and homecoming. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, and her artful adaptation of its groundbreaking structure, Smyth guides us toward a new vision of Woolf’s most demanding and rewarding novel—and crafts an elegant reminder of literature’s ability to clarify and console.
Braiding memoir, literary criticism, and biography, All the Lives We Ever Lived is a wholly original debut: a love letter from a daughter to her father, and from a reader to her most cherished author.
Katharine Smyth is a graduate of Brown University. She has worked for The Paris Reviewand taught at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Brigid Hughes is the founding editor of A Public Space and APS Books. Previously, she worked at the Paris Review with George Plimpton, succeeding him as editor in 2003. She teaches at Columbia University, and at A Public Space has collaborated with such cultural organizations as BAM, the Guggenheim Museum, and PEN on literary programming. A graduate of Northwestern University, she lives in New York City.