Secret lives of our Jewish mothers: A conversation between two writers

Please join us for this special event with visiting writer Monique Charlesworth and University of Leeds writer Jay Prosser in conversation.

Monique and Jay will be talking about their recently published memoirs, and the surprising secrets they discovered on their matrilineal side.

Chaired by Helen Finch, Professor of German literature, University of Leeds.

This event is organised by the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Leeds.

About the speakers

Born in Birkenhead, Monique Charlesworth is half German and her work has a European bias. Fluent in French and German, she  has written four acclaimed novels. A graduate of the National Film and Television School, she spent a decade writing scripts for film and television. Mother Country: a story of love and lies is her first memoir. The book explores the many ways in which her mother spent her life trying to escape from being German and half-Jewish. Monique’s own life has reversed this trajectory. She lives with her husband in London.

As Reader in Humanities at the University of Leeds, Jay Prosser is driven by how we can connect personal stories with cultural history, in order to answer some of the big questions of our time. He is author and editor of several books and many articles, on subjects ranging from transgender narratives to photography and atrocity. His creative nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including the Jewish Chronicle and Hinterland. His latest book, Loving Strangers: A Camphorwood Chest, a Legacy, a Son Returns was winner of the Hazel Rowley Prize (US, 2020) for the best proposal for a first-time biographer and was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize (UK, 2019) for the best unpublished biography.

Professor Helen Finch is Director of German at Leeds and a member of the University’s Centre for Jewish Studies and the Centre for World Literatures. Her main areas of research are in the representation of the Holocaust in German-language literature, queer identity and memory in German culture, and curriculum design. Linking all three is a concern with marginalised voices, poetics of resistance, and inclusivity, concerns which she also brings to her teaching.

Two book covers

Book covers: Mother Country by Monique Charlesworth and Loving Strangers by Jay Prosser.


Seminar Room G.09
20 Lyddon Terrace
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

See the campus map for venue information.

This event also takes place on Zoom.

Join the event on Zoom.

Feature image

Photo courtesy of Monique Charlesworth.