Francis Bacon’s Nanny

La Nanny de Francis Bacon

By: Clíona Ní Ríordáin , Maylis Besserie

Publication Date: May 2024


Francis Bacon’s Nanny by Maylis Besserie, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin

An Irish Times Most Anticipated Book of 2024

Don’t miss award-winning author Maylis Besserie at the International Festival of Literature Dublin on Sat 18 May 2024! More details here.

At the very centre of the life of one of the twentieth-century’s greatest artists was the most unexpected of life-long influences. The aptly named Jessie Lightfoot shielded the young Francis Bacon from the brutish violence of his bullying father, as well as from his worst self-immolating excesses later in life. The tenderness, wit and warmth of this inimitable Nanny stands in illuminating relief to the sulphurous palette that defined Bacon’s work.

Beyond the humour and heart of this extraordinary woman – who finds herself confronted with the shade and guile of the artworld – Maylis Besserie also gives us a glimpse of Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century, both a powder keg and a place apart from the rest of the world, whose landscapes, imagery and animals haunted the famous painter’s canvases.

In the final of Maylis Besserie’s Irish-French trilogy, her preoccupation with the art and lives of artists who crossed borders between France and Ireland has a fitting climax as Bacon confronts the boundaries between the real and the imagined.

‘In a virtuoso feat of literary ventriloquism, Maylis Besserie follows the advice of the Greek poet Cavafy to approach the world from unique and strange angles. Through the eyes of Bacon’s nanny and close companion, she gives us brilliant insights into the conflicting personal, sexual, and artistic impulses that shaped a remarkable artist, rendered in the steadfast voice of someone who understood and loved the complex man behind the art. It marks a wonderful conclusion to a remarkable Irish trilogy.’ Dermot Bolger

Maylis Besserie was born in Bordeaux and now lives in Paris. She works as a producer for the radio channel France Culture. Besserie’s connection with Ireland started when her family sent her to spend summers in Ireland to learn English. Yell, Sam, If You Still Can (Le tiers temps) was her first novel and won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman 2020. It has been sold to more than twenty different territories. Lilliput published her second novel, Scattered Love (Les amours dispersées) in 2023. Francis Bacon’s Nanny (La Nourrice de Francis Bacon) won the Prix du Roman des Écrivains du Sud 2023.

Translator Clíona Ní Ríordáin is the O’Donnell Chair of Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her most recent book is English Language Poets in University College Cork 1970-1980 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Her translation of Yell, Sam, If You Still Can was named runner-up for the Scott Moncrieff Prize 2023.

Weight .400 kg
Dimensions 216 × 136 mm
Publication Date

May 2024




Paperback w/ Flaps

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