Kit Kemp: ‘That’s the sign to me of the best sort of book’

Our Bookshelfie podcast is getting a make-over this week as Vick Hope is joined by interior designer, author and creative director, Kit Kemp. Known for her artistic eye in textiles, homeware and British design, Kit stops by to discuss how story telling isn’t just through words on a page.

Kit shares with Vick the five stories that have influenced her as an artist, an avid reader and a woman. Her book choices takes us from 1499 all the way up to 2014, as we travel from Shropshire to Paris, London to Stuart England.

Check out the full episode here.

Precious Bane

Prudence Sarn was born with a cleft palate, her ‘precious bane’, for which she is persecuted as a witch by…

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“She was always an outsider, I suppose living outside a village and in the countryside, as we did, you are on the outside, but also, you know, sort of growing up and having one daughter who’s slightly disabled. And if you are on the outside, things can turn against you so quickly, and what you think, are a happy closed community suddenly can turn round and things can work against you.”

The Lady and the Unicorn

Keen to demonstrate his new-found favour with the King, rising nobleman Jean le Viste commissions six tapestries to adorn the…

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“It’s talking about making these tapestries in Belgian, and the blind daughter, how he, Nikolas is a sort of you hear of a fan fertile, he’s a sort of unfetter. And all the women fall for him. But at the same time, you’re learning about what it was like to live at that time, what it was like to be an artist to be a craftsman to be a maker at that time. And it’s you start on the first page, and suddenly you’re on page 100, before you even realise it. And that’s the sign to me of the best sort of book.”

Wayward: Just Another Life to Live

They made the long journey up to the Outer Hebrides in an odyssey of discovery and heartbreak, full of the…

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“I also have not only read the book, but bought the audiobook, and she has such a wonderful voice. And right. So I think lots of people actually sort of acquire their personality, they become somebody else for the sake of the book, and they miss out bits and put bits in so that they sound how they want to be. I just felt with Vashti she was the real person, you got to really know her and love her.”


When a twist of fate delivers an ambitious young medical student to the court of King Charles II, he is…

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“I love restoration but mainly because I love Rose Tremaine. She’s a fearless and fiercely intelligent writer. There’s nothing that she can’t write about. And if you look at the different books that she’s written from Sacred Country through to The Colour, then to Restoration. She is just extraordinary and the detail that she goes into, but I really bought into Restoration more recently.”

The Secret Lives of Colour

The Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed…

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“Every page is another story. It’s quite incredible. All the different colours, I wish I could remember them all. But this is a book that you have, beside your bed or beside your desk and you dip into it. Now some people will dip into a recipe book because they love it. And for me, it’s this, and I could pick it up 365 days of the year and find something in it. I mean, if she could have if she can become a Dame of colour, I think that’s what she is. I think she’s just fabulous.”

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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.