Emeli Sandé: ‘The first tattoo I got was “A Room of one’s own”’

To close out Season Four of the Women’s Prize for Fiction podcast in style, host Zawe Ashton is joined by none other than multi award-winning singer songwriter Emeli Sandé. Emeli shares the five pieces of writing by women that have inspired and emboldened her on her journey from timid medical student to chart-topping megastar. She tells Zawe about the ways in which storytelling shaped her identity and celebrates the intrepid writers who showed her it was possible to make music on her own terms. 

Listen to the episode here to discover the full story behind Emeli’s brilliant Bookshelfie choices.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The first and best-known of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary seven volumes of autobiography is a testament to the talents and resilience of…

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‘This book awoke something in me about identity… I remember looking at my hands and realising I was different, and this was going to affect me for the rest of my life. But then also, I found so much strength and inspiration in her survival.’

I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed

‘I, Being born a Woman and Distressed’ is a sonnet written by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent…

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‘I love the irony and the sarcasm of it. If you’re trying to talk to a man or a woman who doesn’t quite understand the need for feminist thought or the need for progress, or really empathise with the indecencies and inequalities we face, you have to treat it in this way.’

Half of a Yellow Sun – 2007 Winner

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s haunting novel, originally won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then the Orange Prize)…

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‘It’s so colourfully written, and I think being in Africa at the same time as reading about Africa, about a civil war that I really hadn’t much knowledge on prior to reading this book, made everything come to life. It made everything so real.’

A Room of One’s Own

A Room of One’s Own grew out of a lecture that Virginia Woolf had been invited to give at Girton College,…

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‘The first tattoo I ever got was “A room of one’s own”. And I just had this feeling inside of me, I felt finally I was free from doing what was expected of me. It was my first rebellion, really.’

Maria Callas: The Woman behind the Legend

For millions of people, the great soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977) remains the focus of such unparalleled fascination that there is…

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‘I definitely connected with her in many ways, reading about her struggle, and how determined she was to become Maria Callas, this famous opera singer … She’s one of the first singers that really made me see the voice as a musical instrument.’

If you enjoyed this re-cap of Emeli’s favourite books (and poem!) by women, listen to the episode in full here>

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The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.