October 19th: Tracy Chevalier

Who doesn’t know Vermeer’s mysteriously beautiful Girl with a Pearl Earring? The painting that creates so many questions: Who is the girl? Why does she look so solemnly? Where might she be, where come from? And what on earth is up with that very prominent accessory of her’s?

Tracy Chevalier is the women who told the painting’s story. She designed answers to many of the questions and gave the face a background, a “how it could have been”. Her novel Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999) is available in 38 languages and has sold over 5 million copies in 15 years. Additionally, a film starring Scarlett Johansson was produced, so all in all a major success.

She also wrote other historical novels inspired by characters, events or circumstances of the past like Burning Bright which follows painter-poet William Blake or Reader, I Married Him featuring short stories inspired by Jane Eyre. With New Boy she gave Othello a completely new setting making the story relatable and appealing to a wider readership. It shows that Shakespeare’s original still has relevance today.

It is delightful that the past still inspires adventurers and narrators in the present. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Tracy!