Katharine Smyth

Cindy Seip

Katharine Smyth, a graduate of Brown University, has worked for The Paris Review and taught at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction. Her debut as an author, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf (Penguin Random House), braids memoir, literary criticism, and biography. It is both a love letter from a daughter to her father, and from a reader to her most cherished author. Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Woolf’s To the Lighthouse in the companionable silence she shared with her father, her favorite person. After his death, as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief, she returned to Woolf´s novel. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, Smyth crafts an elegant reminder of literature’s ability to clarify and console. The Washington Post said “This is a transcendent book, not a simple meditation on one woman’s loss, but a reflection on all of our losses, on loss itself, on how to remember and commemorate our dead.”