Firebird

This richly imagined novel tells the surprising story of two of Bloomsbury’s most unlikely lovers – John Maynard Keynes, the distinguished economist, and the extrovert Russian dancer Lydia Lopokova. Weaving biography and fiction, Firebird explores the tangle of Bloomsbury’s bohemian relationships as lifestyles are challenged and allegiances shift following Lydia’s explosive arrival.

It is the winter of 1921 and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes launch a flamboyant new production at London’s Alhambra Theatre. Maynard Keynes is in the audience, though he expects little from the evening. Despite Lydia’s many triumphs, including the title role in Stravinsky’s Firebird, Maynard’s mind is made up – he considers her ‘a rotten dancer’. Besides, Lydia has at least one husband in tow and Maynard has only ever loved men. Tonight, however, he is moved by her performance, and when the ballet closes in financial disaster leaving its cast penniless, he invites Lydia to move into his Bloomsbury house.

Vividly recreating Lydia’s life-changing journey from Tsarist St Petersburg to Jazz Age London via the Paris of Proust and Picasso, this compelling new novel celebrates a love story that is utterly unexpected, true, and stranger than fiction.

“When the don met the dancer – this is the story of how Maynard Keynes, the great economist, fell for Lydia Lopokova, celebrity ballerina and Russian émigrée. And it is also a story of resistances, when a different kind of woman stepped into the settled world of Virginia, Vanessa, and all the rest of their English entourage. – In FIREBIRD Susan Sellers restages the bright Bloomsbury years of the early 1920s as they have never been seen before.” Rachel Bowlby – FBA, author of Virginia Woolf

“Lydia’s enchanting, hilarious conversations with Maynard are so full of life you will fall in love with her as quickly as Keynes did! I could not put FIREBIRD down.” Maggie Humm – author of ‘Snapshots of Bloomsbury’ and ‘Talland House’

“FIREBIRD is a brilliantly researched and utterly absorbing novel – we are informed, entertained, amused and moved in equal measure. A damn good read!” Lesley Glaister – FRSL, award-winning novelist

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HB ISBN 9781913087807 £19.99 / €24.95 / $28.95 eB ISBN 9781913087814 £ 9.99 / €12.95 / $14.95 216 x 140mm. c. 200pp

Available May 2022

Firebird has already appeared in France as Un oiseau de feu where it has been described as ‘impossible to put down’ (Arts Libre) and as ‘totally recommended’ (La Cause Littéraire); a German translation is about to appear from btb/Random House.

John Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova.
Painted by William Roberts, National Portrait Gallery, London.

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