Please join Wild River Books at Labyrinth for their launch of the Legacy imprint Spring title by award-winning biographer Panthea Reid, who has written biographies of Virginia Woolf and Tillie Olsen. Reid draws an intimate portrait of her marriage, which combined, as her husband, Woodrow Wilson fellow John Fischer, once wrote, “love and books.”
Their bond began when Panthea and John met in 1974 at Louisiana State University, down the hall from literary icon Walker Percy. Two years later, they were married. Reid traces four decades of her marriage’s literary partnership and shares their scholarly travels in pursuit of academic research. While she weaves her way from William Faulkner to Virginia Woolf to Tillie Olsen, John deepens his study of his lifelong scholarly subject, Jonathan Swift, eventually taking up the project of completing the manuscript of Swift’s Word-Book—a dictionary Swift created for a female companion named Esther Johnson.
Reid narrates the shock of her husband’s untimely death and shares the painful, sometimes amusing, always heartfelt story of her journey toward healing, during which she began writing again and also took up the task of finishing the Word-Book, John’s final project, thereby continuing their literary partnership even after his death. With a list of suggested resources, Body and Soul provides a roadmap for those also suffering from loss and grief. Despite the heartbreak, Reid’s story ultimately celebrates life and love.
Panthea Reid has been an NEH Fellow, a Fulbright lecturer, an Honorary Fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London, and President of the South Central MLA. She is the author of Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf. Dubbed a “biographic bombshell,” Reid’s biography Tillie Olsen: One Woman, Many Riddle was published to critical acclaim. Reid is Emerita Professor of English at Louisiana State University.