Bookshelfie: Janet Ellis

Photo of Janet Ellis

We recently caught up with the fantastic an English television presenter, actress and writer Janet Ellis, who gave us an insight into her reading habits. Read on to find out about Janet’s reading habits, and a few of her most favourite books by women.

Here’s a picture of me by one of the three bookshelves in our house. Like all of them, it is a happy chaos of loved and unread (the horror!) books, amassed by my family over the years. I’ve chosen books I came to very early. There are many many ( to the power of hundreds) of books and writers I’ve come to love since – and a few along the way during my childhood, but Black Beauty by Anna Sewell made a deep impression on me as a child. I didn’t know a book could make you cry. Even the illustrations (by Cecil Aldin) still have the power to stop my heart. This is my childhood copy. I’m surprised the pages aren’t papier mache by now!

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer introduced me to a visceral, honest and yet still funny writer. Marvellous characters, a deeply involving, rather odd plot and such wit! Likewise, Jerusalem the Golden is a wonderful read. Again, straight from the heart but also re-readable to a degree, I always find something new. And I’ve squeezed in Heat Wave by Penelope Lively- this writer is superb at telling old stories in a new way and always makes me see the world utterly and refreshingly through her eyes.

I’d love all these writers to be discovered by each new generation of readers. I feel lucky, as a writer, that these women left such a rich trail.

What do you think of Janet’s favourite books? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @WomensPrize.

The Women's Prize Podcast

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