Susannah Walker

The Life of Stuff
  • The Life of Stuff

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    Shortlisted for the James Tait Black biograpy prize 2019

    'This extraordinary, beautiful memoir gripped me from the first page.' Clover Stroud, author of The Wild Other

    What do our possessions say about us? Why do we project such meaning onto them?

    Only after her mother’s death does Susannah Walker discover how much of a hoarder she had become. Over the following months, she has to sort through a dilapidated house filled to the brim with rubbish and treasures, in search of a woman she'd never really known or understood in life. This is her last chance to piece together her mother’s story and make sense of their troubled relationship. What emerges from the mess of scattered papers, discarded photographs and an extraordinary amount of stuff is the history of a sad and fractured family, haunted by dead children, divorce and alcohol.

    The Life of Stuff is a deeply personal exploration of mourning and the shoring up of possessions against the losses and griefs of life, which also raises universal questions about what makes us the people we are.

Susannah Walker studied English Literature at Cambridge followed by Design History at the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum. After starting out as a writer and curator, she then worked in television on programmes ranging from The Late Show to Changing Rooms. She has published three non-fiction books about various aspects of design, and runs a vintage poster blog and website about post-war graphic design and history, as well as lecturing on posters and designers at places as diverse as the National Army Museum, the Art Workers' Guild and Marks & Spencer Archive.

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