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About the book
  • Published: 2 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099592761
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $26.00

Birdcage Walk

Formats & editions

From the bestselling author of The Lie, and Exposure

***Nominated for the 2018 Independent Booksellers Week Award***
‘The finest novel Dunmore has written.’ Observer
'Superb and poignant.’ Guardian
‘Quietly brilliant … among the best fiction of our time.’ Daily Telegraph

It is 1792 and Europe is seized by political turmoil and violence.

Lizzie Fawkes has grown up in Radical circles where each step of the French Revolution is followed with eager idealism. But she has recently married John Diner Tredevant, a property developer who is heavily invested in Bristol’s housing boom, and he has everything to lose from social upheaval and the prospect of war.

Diner believes that Lizzie’s independent, questioning spirit must be coerced and subdued. She belongs to him: law and custom confirm it, and she must live as he wants.

But as Diner’s passion for Lizzie darkens, she soon finds herself dangerously alone.

Longlisted for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

  • Pub date: 2 October 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099592761
  • Imprint: Windmill Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $26.00

About the Author

Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore was an award-winning novelist, children’s author and poet who will be remembered for the depth and breadth of her fiction. Rich and intricate, yet narrated with a deceptive simplicity that made all of her work accessible and heartfelt, her writing stood out for the fluidity and lyricism of her prose, and her extraordinary ability to capture the presence of the past.

Her first novel, Zennor in Darkness, explored the events which led D. H. Lawrence to be expelled from Cornwall on suspicion of spying, and won the McKitterick Prize. Her third novel, A Spell of Winter, won the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction in 1996, and she went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller with The Siege, which was described by Antony Beevor as a ‘world-class novel’ and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year and the Orange Prize. Published in 2010, her eleventh novel, The Betrayal, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and The Lie in 2014 was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the 2015 RSL Ondaatje Prize.

Her final novel, Birdcage Walk, deals with legacy and recognition – what writers, especially women writers, can expect to leave behind them – and was described by the Observer as ‘the finest novel Helen Dunmore has written’. She died in June 2017, and in January 2018, she was posthumously awarded the Costa Prize for her volume of poetry, Inside the Wave.

Also by Helen Dunmore

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Praise for Birdcage Walk

“This is the finest novel Helen Dunmore has written ... From the start, Birdcage Walk has the command of a thriller … The novel’s cast is marvellous and vivid … A novel that deserves to be cherished and to last.”

Kate Kellaway, Observer

“This powerful novel is a fine final flourish from a gifted writer … The power Dunmore gives to lowly female lives is inescapably moving, their stories taking us on a remarkable journey into the visceral heart of the female experience in Georgian Britain … [Dunmore is] one of the bravest and most versatile writers of her generation … This fine, fiery novel will surely be remembered as one of her best.”

Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

“Like many of Dunmore’s novels, Birdcage Walk defies categorisation ... a blend of beauty and horror evoked with such breath-taking poetry that it haunts me still ... she has an extraordinary gift for taking the ordinary and familiar and rendering them new. When Tredevant’s growing unpredictability once more tightens the narrative, forcing the story back into the ominous and unsettling territory where it first began, it is easy to see why [Dunmore] has earned a place among the finest writers of historical fiction working today.”


“Helen Dunmore’s quietly brilliant historical novels are among the best fiction of our time.”

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

“A finely wrought psychological thriller … But it’s ultimately a novel about the ways in which we remember and, as such, a fitting contribution to Dunmore’s extraordinary legacy.”

Daily Mail

“Elegant prose and brilliantly researched historical detail … a devastatingly good novel.”

Sunday Express, S Magazine

“Part psychological thriller, part poetic exhumation of the past, it’s a fiery, first-rate historical novel from an author who’ll be much missed”

Mail on Sunday, Summer Reads

“Dunmore is skilled at claiming the huge canvasses of history and painting upon them exquisitely detailed human tragedies … Every scene is saturated with vivid period detail but Dunmore’s touch is feather-light.”

Francesca Segal, Financial Times

“A firecracker of a historical murder mystery story with which to leave her many admirers”

Guardian, Readers Books of the Year

“Dunmore just writes so effortlessly. Birdcage Walk is a joy to read.”


“Marvellous … Dunmore has the ability to evoke a sense of place and to write passages of thrilling and disturbing action … Dunmore is a remarkable novelist who sets herself very different challenges in each new novel. She meets this one triumphantly. It will surely be a great and thoroughly deserved success.”

Allan Massie, Scotsman

“A very good novel indeed”

Scotsman, Books of the Year

“All Dunmore’s novels grip the reader through her imaginative power … compelling as ever.”

Daily Express

“[An] engrossing read … A thrilling novel of loyalty, betrayal and revolution, Dunmore once again fails to put a foot wrong.”

Woman & Home

“In a tense plot exploring private and public violence, Helen Dunmore has proven why she is regarded as such a masterful storyteller.”

Good Housekeeping

“[This] page-turner is classic Dunmore: a subtle exhumation of the past in which long-buried passions seem thrillingly immediate.”

EVENT Magazine, Mail on Sunday

“Intelligent, precise writing, a sure grip on a historical period; sensuous evocation of inner and outer worlds; delicate symbolism . . . subtle mixture of fiction and fact . . . I have rarely felt so anxious reading a novel that at the same time gave me so much pleasure.”

Times Literary Supplement

“This novel reminds us we all have something to pass down to the next generation”

Evening Standard

“Dunmore’s deft skills in summoning up the ordinary life of a woman buffeted by extraordinary events are admirable.”

Sunday Times

“A chilling drama enclosing a graceful and elegiac meditation on how to love well in turbulent political times”

Evening Standard, Summer Reads

“With her vivid prose, Dunmore is a writer who can make herself at home in any era … Birdcage Walk is a gripping read. And while it’s set in the past, this novel has a very contemporary message about the consequences of political turmoil.”


“Helen Dunmore’s delicate prose brings the atmosphere to life, and through Lizzie we see the glimmer of future feminism; Dunmore’s portrayal of grief is painfully honest and raw . . . This is a perfect example of how hidden stories of the past can be brought to life.”

Irish Times

“Part Gothic romance and part study of 1790s radical politics … There is a precision to Dunmore’s re-enactment of the past … but she also shows the devastating effects of historical events on ordinary people and how they shape them.”

Sunday Telegraph

“[A] fine novel … In all her fiction Dunmore shows an acute awareness of the interactions between the lives of ordinary individuals and the larger forces of history … It also presents a memorable portrait of a young woman confronting with courage the unforeseen consequences of her choices.”

BBC History Magazine

“To read Dunmore is to live history rather than to study it ... It’s a wonderful book filled with experiences from [her] writing career”

Mariella Frostrup, Open Book Radio 4


Saga Magazine

“Another finely wrought historical novel”

Radio Times

“History from below in a commanding novel of revolution and romance”

Boyd Tonkin, Arts Desk

“Helen Dunmore’s new novel concerns lives, consequential in their day, that pass away into utter oblivion… The result is a chilling work of domestic horror where no crust, candle nor cabbage goes uncounted”

Suzi Feay, The Spectator

“Birdcage Walk offers a persuasively grimy period evocation of contemporary domestic peril facing women, not least in an agonising childbirth scene that has traumatic consequences”

Anthony Cummins, Metro

“Gripping historical drama”

Irish Country Magazine

“A story of idealism and possessive love, with strong and memorable characters”

Choice Magazine

“Helen definitely has a deft touch when it comes to history but the vividness of Lizzie and Diner's relationship is what stands out in glorious literary 3D. Speaking as someone raised in Bristol, I'll never be able to gaze down into the Gorge again without seeing that rowing boat. Bleak can be hauntingly beautiful and between these covers Helen demonstrates how”

The Bookbag

“She vividly brings to live the struggle of women’s lives in late 18th century Bristol, and I recommend the book for an insight into Bristol in another time”

Western Daily Press

“From the swish of a silk dress, to the whoosh of the guillotine, Dunmore uses words with economic precision to build up the detail and suspense of this novel. Which haunts the reader just as the characters in it are haunted by the dead. ”

The Tablet

“Flawless final historical novel from the late, great Helen Dunmore”

Woman & Home

“A lively and inventive voice … by all account as brilliant as her other books”

Good Housekeeping

“Early feminism and a hint of Grand Designs: a great mix’”

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