The kindest, funniest and most fabulous person in any room.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
-Charles Bukowski, ‘The Laughing Heart’
2nd July 2019
The Great Edgebury Sunflower Give Away 2020
Having successfully raised sunflowers from seed this spring, Sophie's mother Bren decided to join forces with a neighbour who shared her idea to offer the majority of them free to passers by. Each sunflower pot sported a label directing recipients to Sophie's website and a couple of donations were received for Thrombosis UK. Consequently Bren is planning an even bigger Sunflower Give Away in 2021, mainly to raise awareness and keep our gal's memory alive! Anyone care to join in next year? Don't worry folks, Bren will remind you!
First Recipient of The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award Announced
Transworld has announced that Zara Sekhavati, travel editor at Rough Guides, Berlitz Guides and Insight Guides is the first recipient of The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award.
Earlier this year, Transworld announced that it was setting up the award, a sponsored volunteering scheme in honour of Sophie. She made it her mission to improve the lives of others and it was with Sophie's belief in the power of literacy and literature to change lives in mind, along with her love of travel, that Penguin Random House decided to partner with the award-winning responsible volunteering organisation people and places to sponsor a two-week programme – open to anyone working in publishing and bookselling – in support of the work of the Treak Community Centre close to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
The Centre is committed to creating opportunity, not dependency, and provides free, non-formal education and training that supplements and complements the Cambodian state system, offering a nursery, school, library, computer classes and a wide range of skills training. The aim is to help the local people learn new skills and increase their confidence so that they are better equipped to take control of their futures. Penguin Random House wants to build and develop a sustainable relationship with the community and plans to sponsor an annual placement to offer consistency and continuity.
The entries were assessed by a team from Penguin Random House, Sophie’s family and friends, leaders from the Treak Community Centre and author and broadcaster Simon Mayo who worked closely with Sophie.
The leaders from the Treak Community Centre said ‘Zara stood out from our first reading of her application form. Her passion for women's rights resonates with us here in Cambodia, as do her interests in education and children, her CELTA qualification, her technical knowledge of teaching English as a foreign language and her appreciation that learning is much more effective if it is enjoyable. All of these indicate that Zara will be able to help, not only the children who attend Treak Community Centre, but that she will also be able to work with our Cambodian teachers to develop their skills and thus leave something tangible behind after she leaves.’
‘I'm elated to have been selected for the first Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award. Thank you again to everyone involved and to Sophie's family and friends. I'm delighted to be part of such an important cause in honour of such an incredible woman.’
Sophie's Quiz Night 2019
Following Sophie’s passing, her family and friends decided to organise a Quiz Night on Friday 17th January at her old school, Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School, Sidcup, Kent, to raise funds for both Thrombosis UK, who promote all aspects of thrombosis care and research in the UK, together with a more local cause much in keeping with Sophie’s love of reading, The Book Buzz Literary Festival. The Quiz Night was a sell-out event, the evening raising a staggering total of £4,150. These funds will be split to support Thrombosis UK and the book festival. It is hoped money raised will enable an event to be held in Bexley’s libraries and other venues all around the borough, to honour Sophie’s memory.
Sophie died suddenly on 3rd June 2019. Visiting her family for the day, at 6 o'clock she was relaxing next to her mum on the sofa waiting for her sister to serve up her favourite dinner. By 6.30pm she had collapsed and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. By 8pm that same evening she had passed away. A brain aneurysm was suspected, but this opinion was wrong. The post mortem revealed Sophie had, in fact, died of catastrophic bilateral pulmonary emboli caused by a DVT.
Sophie had been suffering from a high fever. She saw a paramedic on Saturday 1st June whilst working away and had been told she probably had a virus and to go home and rest. The symptoms of pulmonary embolism - breathlessness, chest pain, high fever - are often overlooked or diagnosed as other, less serious, problems such as a chest infection or viral illness, which is why it is vital to raise awareness.
Sophie was a healthy and fit young woman. DVT doesn't just happen to people on long flights or to the elderly. It can sometimes happen to women on the contraceptive pill or other hormone treatment; in pregnancy and to mothers in the few weeks following birth and to gamers who have been playing for hours online. Sometimes it can happen if you have an undiagnosed blood condition. This is why it is so important to recognise the signs of DVT/PE/VTE. Sophie's family asks you to please take just 37 SECONDS* to read the short paragraphs at the following link so that you are aware of the symptoms. You could save your own or someone else's life.
*Every 37 seconds someone in the Western World dies from a Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) (information courtesy of Thrombosis UK)
Sophie was a shining comet of a woman who sparked with wit, grit and pure unadulterated charm. She could make anything look easy, from hosting an ambitious multi-course dinner party to finding a poem to suit any and every occasion – or pulling off a brave combination of ruffles and studs all at once.
Sophie excelled at most things she tried, and her brain fizzed constantly with new ideas – most of which were concerned with improving the state of the world. After graduating from Exeter University in 2012, she started a successful career in publishing with positions at Bloomsbury and Penguin Random House. Earlier in 2019 she co-founded The FLIP (Female Leadership in Publishing) with two of her colleagues at Transworld, which platforms under-represented voices within the industry in a frank and empowering way. To honour her memory, her family and her boyfriend Tim chose to work with two UK-based charities – Beyond the Streets and Real Action – that embody Sophie’s belief in the power of literature to effect positive change. There are already several books in the works that will be dedicated to her.
Sophie had an uncanny knack for connecting with people, and her rare blend of cleverness and kindness resulted in a shining enthusiasm for those around her. She could work a room like no one else, and was a constant source of support and encouragement for anyone lucky enough to find themselves bathed in her glow. She did not believe in the concept of a ‘guilty pleasure’ either in art or in life, instead squeezing all the joy out of the day wherever she found it. A Chislehurst-girl-turned-Hampstead-woman, Sophie was an effervescent presence anywhere, at any time – whether that was snuggled on the sofa with Scout, or out having adventures all across the globe.
Sophie passed away after suffering a Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) on the evening of 3rd June 2019 at the age of 28. The world has lost someone truly special, and she is already very deeply missed by everyone with the good fortune to have known her. Her loved-ones will remember Sophie always – and will try for the rest of our lives to be a little bit more like her, whenever we can.
Memories of Sophie
Sophie was loved by so many that it’s proving difficult to keep track of all the wonderful stories people have about her.
Sophie’s family would love you to share your memories, photos, videos, or any books that Sophie suggested you read.
Should you wish to make a donation in memory of Sophie please do so to our chosen charitable organisation, Thrombosis UK.
Sophie died suddenly and unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism caused by a DVT and Thrombosis UK are doing valuable work to raise awareness of one of the most common but little publicised causes of death in the UK.
You can contribute via the button below:
Thrombosis UK endeavours to reflect all aspects of thrombosis care and research in the UK and was founded because of the lack of awareness amongst the general public, politicians and health professionals, of the dangers of thrombosis. Indeed, thrombosis is arguably the largest cause of death in the UK, and probably in the developed world. The aim of the charity is to raise awareness and educate everyone about thrombosis and its prevention, as well as fund relevant research aimed at filling the gaps that exist in current medical knowledge. It is estimated that around 25,000 people die every year, mostly unnecessarily, as a result of thrombosis associated with hospital admissions alone (the highest risk factor for developing DVT/PE).
Previously almost £10,000 was raised for two charities that reflect Sophie’s passions.
Beyond the Streets is a UK charity working to end sexual exploitation by working directly with women. They offer safe spaces and the opportunity to talk. Sophie passionately believed in the work of Beyond the Streets. She recently worked with them on a number of projects. beyondthestreets.org.uk
Real Action is a specialist education charity. They offer fast-acting, effective courses of basic education, especially in literacy for children and adults. Real Action have transformed the prospects for people living in underprivileged communities. Their work reflects Sophie’s belief in the power of literacy and literature to change lives. realaction.org.uk
Books recommendations given, inspired and in memory of Sophie
Contribute a recommendation
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
This book is a beautiful story about the late coming of age of a 30 year old woman. The main character is different to Sophie, but I think they have the same spirit. I go back to this book often when I need to remind myself to keep going, to remind myself to be good to other people, and myself, and when I need a top-up of self-belief. In my friendship with Sophie, she was always such a light, and someone to look up to. I believed in myself so much more every time I talked to her, and she inspired me to be that person for others.
Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba
This book is a small, powerful and incisive guide to the world of work. I gave it to Soph because it reminds me of her: always busting with great advice, a celebration of work and women wrapped in a slick, stylish jacket. Sophie inspired me every day both at work and in play - and now when I need a little encouragement, I look to books like these to keep me going, and to do what she did so effortlessly.
From the Corner of the Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein
This book was recommended by Sophie. It's an honest, engaging memoir from a former intern at the White House and it will make you fall in love with Obama all over again, although he is very much a background figure. I met Beck briefly at a book event and she was inspiring.
Sophie recommend me this because she knew how much I adored the female narrative and was interested in politics. I remember this book arrived in the post with a handwritten note and I gobbled it up. I'm told there is now an adaption in the making and can't wait to watch it!
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Sophie told me time and time again about Cheryl Strayed. I'd watched the film adaptation of Wild and loved it, but snobbishly thought the book would be too earnestly self-helpy. Soph, I was SO wrong. Wild is brilliant – just the right blend of earnestness, humour, nature appreciation and travel tale. If you're feeling lost, jump on the trail with Cheryl, you will feel better as you walk with her.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Every year Transworld runs a book club to celebrate the shortlist (and try and guess the winner of) The Women's Prize. We split the books out between whoever is taking part, and try and guess which one will win the prize based on how much we loved it. In 2018, Sophie was one of the readers for shortlisted book Home Fire – and my god she raved about it, to the point she told the room she would be angry if Home Fire didn't win. Luckily for everyone involved, Kamila Shamsie took home the prize in 2018 and Sophie was delighted.
On Sophie's insistence, and even though we never liked the same books given she had MUCH more sophisticated reading tastes than me, I did read the book. Be warned, it packs quite an emotional punch! I found the book very powerful and affecting, but Sophie LOVED it – so I'm recommending it here on her behalf.
P.S. The book I was assigned to was Jessamine Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing and I loved it as much as Sophie loved Home Fire. There really is something for everyone at The Women's Prize!
It is a moving and affecting story, posing big political, social and religious questions which are often uncomfortable, and exposes the assumptions and bias towards the Muslim community. It is a story about love and family and it stayed with me for a long time. Sophie didn't recommend it to me, but she was an advocate for those facing adversity, and I think she would have enjoyed this book.
The Vanishing Hours by Barney Norris
This was the first big project Soph and I worked on together. She recommended I read it as soon as it came in and assured me Barney was an incredible writer. I had to email her at midnight when I finished it telling her I was in tears.
We went to go and see one of Barney’s plays in Cambridge together and it was the first time I saw her in all her publicist-glory. I was blown away by how impressive she was. She worked the room pre-show, introduces me to people and brought so much infectious energy to what would have been a really awkward moment for me. I felt so inspired by her that day, and every day after that, and thought even if I can be a little more Sophie everyday, life would be so much better.
Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony
This is such a quirky, unusual and wonderfully warm yet spiky novel. Part political satire. Part historical novel. All heart.
It's one that I feel sure Sophie would have relished. I can hear her banging on about why it's so extraordinary, and why "YOU REALLY MUST READ IT!!! You'd love it."
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Soph and I often discussed our love of Cheryl and her pearls of wisdom that can be found in Tiny Beautiful Things. Her advice is so profound, and I know Sophie was influenced by several of her quotes. Tiny Beautiful Things is the book I find myself coming back to whenever I miss her.
“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfcking sht out of it.”
Polo by Jilly Cooper
Sophie gave me a copy of this as part of a women's fiction book swap at Transworld a few years ago. It was just before Mount! was being published and she read through all of the Rutshire Chronicles books with incredible speed. Her level of enthusiasm for these books was infectious and I loved chatting with her about them in the office (and her reactions making me feel much less self-conscious about crying at them too....)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This was one of the books we read for one of the book clubs at work, and I so fondly remember Sophie passionately advocating for why it should win the award it was up for! It's hefty and heartbreaking but is one of those books where you'll always remember where you were when you read 'that bit'... No spoilers here, but have tissues (lots of tissues!) to hand when reading. I'm pretty sure Sophie had all the publishing merch for this one!! Xxx
Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant by Joel Golby
One of the best, best things about being a PR in the publishing industry is that you get to read new books before anyone else, before the 'finished copies' are printed, before they go on the shelves and tables in bookshops.
I spied a proof copy of BRILLIANT on Soph's desk and I excitingly exclaimed 'OOH!' and picked it up. I explained why I enjoyed reading Joel Golby's pieces, how they reminded me of my younger brother, and they mimicked the sort of conversations I wish I had more of in my life. Sophie listened to my enthusiastic ramblings - she never made you feel uncool or silly for LOVING something and saying so - and immediately said I could borrow the proof.
The book opens with an essay about Joel's parents dying, in which he says of grief: "instances of grief, I have found, are unique, two never coming in the same shape, and they can be piercing and hard-edged and they can be like passing through deep, dark treacle or they can be like a long, slow-passing cloud. There is no one single catch-all solution to dealing with the worst life has to throw at you." It's an obvious sentiment, but it was a helpful reminder when Sophie died in 2019, and it is still a helpful reminder today.
Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
This is the last book Sophie gave me, the last time that I saw her. Sophie was full of excitement about the FLIP and was telling me all about her future plans of "creating change" in not only the publishing industry, but also in how women think about themselves and how they treat each other. My job also involves creating change, but in employee behaviour, and Sophie gave me this book as she thought it would inspire me.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
You knew it was Christmas when Soph was reading this delight! Sophie’s Christmas cheer was dazzling. I shall be sure to read this at Christmas time and feel her Christmas sparkle
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Sophie didn’t just recommend this, she badgered me to read in and in the end just handed me a copy. And she was right - I LOVED it! Rooney’s writing is fresh and exciting. Sophie would have loved the Normal People TV adaptation too.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This is a lyrical and inspiring book about finding happiness and purpose, and experiencing the dual oppression of being black and a woman in early 20th century Florida. It's also, I think, a beautiful testament to female friendship, and that's something that Sophie was all about!
Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
Sophie recommended this to me, she had a habit of suggesting books to me that could be used to build houses with, in that they were the size of bricks. (Riders was another one) It was a testament to my trust in her recommendations that I was willing to order this and lug it around London. She was right, of course, it is wonderful, an insight into Hollywood and what it was and is like as a woman in that world and it inspired a delve into Marilyn Monroe/a full on obsession with her. There’s a film of this book on its way which I’m nervously waiting for.
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
This is one of the first books I can remember Sophie working on at Transworld - she loved it and would forever be pressing it into people's hands. A feisty feminist heroine at the fore - I wonder why it appealed!
How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
We adored this podcast, as did many of our friends at Transworld. Sophie kindly got me a proof of How To Fail from her friend who was doing the publicity. We used to share our love of Elizabeth’s work, and we had tickets for the live show, which I ended up missing due to work, and I often think about how much fun that evening would have been. This is for Sophie who showed that everything could be joyous, even the idea of things not going to plan.
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Soph always used to comment when I shared photos of books I was reading and she messaged me telling me how much I'd love this. And then again when I had read it. She always had a magical ability to match people with the pages they needed in their lives!
Turning for Home by Barney Norris
Sophie and I worked on this book together, and I think of it often. It's such a beautiful meditation on loss, generational trauma, mental health and healing. Working with Sophie, who was so passionate about Barney's writing, is some of my favourite memories of the time.
Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Sophie gave me this poetry collection by Yrsa Daley-Ward one birthday. It's brilliant and heartbreaking, bursting with perceptive observations that remind me of her.
The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown
Sophie recommended this. She loved a good gossipy read as much as me! I haven’t quite got around to it yet but loved The Diana Chronicles about Princess Diana’s life by the same author which I read during my visit to Boston with Sophie in 2017. Such happy memories that I may return to it one day. The book, not Boston - That would be too sad for me.
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
This is a book both Sophie and I were so excited about when she got to work on this campaign and had lots of nerdy chats about. It's a beautifully written story about grief, love and a very special boy named Clay. Bridge of Clay will always have a little place in my heart.
The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Mind, Heart and Soul edited by William Sieghart
I've read more poetry in the last year than in three years of studying English. I've found it so soothing, and have taken extra comfort in knowing that Sophie found such joy in poetry, and was generous in sharing it with her friends and family. These two collections prescribe poems for every kind of heartache. This poem, from The Poetry Pharmacy Returns, is one I have reread many times.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
A really special book that will make you cry, laugh and feel all warm inside. But mostly it leaves you feeling hopeful for a world that has so much good in it, no matter how hard times can get sometimes. Auggie has so may struggles to go through but still keeps such a sunny outlook on life, he's an inspirational kid.
'You can't blend in, when you were born to stand out'
This book is technically for kids, but it had such a profound effect on me when I read it recently. Be kind, tell the people close to you how much they mean to you, laugh, don't be afraid to stand out and be yourself. It reminds me so much of what Sophie was all about.
In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford
Another of Sophie’s authors. Sarah Langford studied English at university and, as she explains in her Foreword, loves the way “words transport me into someone else’s life” so here she writes about 11 real life cases drawn from her time as a Criminal and Family Barrister. If you liked The Secret Barrister you must try this one too.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Sophie always came up trumps at birthdays and Christmas with amazing book recommendations for me. This series of books known as “The Neapolitan Novels” Is a particular favourite. I was only a few pages in and I ordered the whole set! The photo I have uploaded is of the second book in the series, The Story of a New Name
Belonging by Umi Sinha
I love this book because it's about a lesser spoken about history and the difficulty of intersectional experience.
Period Power: Harness Your Hormones and Get Your Cycle Working for You by Maisie Hill
I'm recommending this book because I think Sophie would have loved it and I've been desperate to talk about it with her. The first part of the book covers what happens in your body during a menstrual cycle and why all the physical and emotional symptoms manifest at different times. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL US THIS?? It's so empowering to be armed with this information, I want to give a copy to all the teenage girls I know. It details what is 'normal' (most things) and when you might need to see a doctor. It's all so vital.
The majority of the book is dedicated to the different 'seasons' you go through in your cycle and how to best take care of yourself. Ovulation, for example, marks the peak of your 'summer' and you feel like Beyonce. We are giddy on a cloud of oestrogen and should plan lots of fun social things. Then we move into 'autumn' and our progesterone rises which makes big meetings and presentations really difficult because we just want to lie around eating snacks. Truth.
Disclaimer: It's a bit woowoo in places, though the author is an expert and has the science to back up her strategy. Sophie loved her horoscopes and I think she'd be totally on board with the idea that 'spring' will bring you new opportunities, so I'm embracing it.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Sophie helped to handle the publicity for this book before she left Bloomsbury. I found the book on her shelf after our friend Connor reminded me of this in September 2019. I lapped up every single page and then went to see the film that came out in the same year. Loved every second of that too
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
She raved about rediscovering this classic
"Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living."
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
A Sophie recommendation, Although Joanna Is published by Bloomsbury This came after Sophie’s time there and she wasn’t involved in the publicity. I do seem to recall that Sophie met Joanna and the excitement surrounding that. I’m sure a few drinks would have been involved and a good sharing of stories! Joanna worked in New York as an assistant to a literary agent and this is a memoir of this period in Joanna’s life. They two young women would have had a lot in common
Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem by Simon Singh
I worked at Transworld with Sophie, I don't know if Sophie read this book or would have liked it but like me she might have picked it up and been blown away by it. Don't be put off by the fact that it is about a mathematical theory, the maths can go right over your head - it certainly did mine - but it reads like a fantastic detective story with loads of wonderful characters. I picked this up from a shelf at a holiday home and abandoned all the books I'd brought with me to read until I'd finished it.
Poetry & Quotes
Poignant, inspiring and beautiful poetry and quotes inspired by Sophie, chosen by friends and family.
“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“ If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely”
“ Be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it longs to be known “
“ I like my money right where I can see it… hanging in my closet”
“She has a way with words, red lipstick, and making an entrance”
“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.“
“If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve”
“Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires and a touch that never hurts “
“I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes. “
“You’ve changed me, entirely, wholly, irrevocably. Living life is different now. It is all so different now. Missing you has stripped me to a soul level. You have made me richer than ever possible before. I’ve learned that true strength and courage arises when you’ve experienced searing loss and cannot imagine carrying on. I’ve learned that the deepest joy is known by those who have also experienced the deepest pain. I’ve seen that unending grief is really just a sign of an unending love.”
"Love affairs to be had, fjords to be swum in, books to be written. Gilbert’s appetite for life in the wake of her darkest hour really is a thing to behold. She tells me that the author Ann Patchett, a friend, gave her some sage advice. “She said, ‘Liz, Rayya belongs to the eternal now. And some day soon so will you. And that’s true of all of us. You have an infinite amount of time to belong to the eternal with her. But you only have this tiny bit of time to have this experience as a human being on Earth. Don’t lose it by trying to merge with her now. Merge with this, what’s here, the people who are here, what’s in front of you. The weird, strange, heartbreaking thing of being mortal. Do that.
“The good news is that soon we’ll all be dead,” Gilbert laughs cheerily. “And we will all meet up later at some weird soul conference and look back on this and say, ‘Isn’t it hilarious, what we did? Wasn’t that f..king hilarious?’ But for now, it’s time to just do it. And do it fully. This moment of being human is not to be wasted.”
-An extract of an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) in the Australian
by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware
Filling Your Gaps
by Pandora Sykes
I’m freezing out here
Here - take my coat
It’s cold in the water
Come - hop in my boat.
My phone’s out of battery
It’s okay - borrow mine.
My babysitter just cancelled
I’m there - I’ve got time.
He’s left me again
I’ve got you - just breathe.
I can’t get through the day
You can - I won’t leave.
I can’t work today
I’ll pick up your slack.
What is kindness to you?
To give, what you lack
For Grief by John O'Donohue
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
by Rosemary Norman
Go to sleep, Mum,
I won’t stop breathing
Suddenly, in the night.
Go to sleep, I won’t
Climb out of my cot and
Mum, I won’t swallow
The pills the doctor gave you or
Put hairpins in electric
Sockets, just go to sleep
I won’t cry
When you take me to school and leave me:
I’ll be happy with other children
My own age.
Sleep, Mum, sleep
Fall in the pond, play with matches,
Run under a lorry or even consider
Sweets from strangers.
No, I won’t
Give you a lot of lip,
Not like some.
I won’t sniff glue,
Fail all my exams,
Get myself pregnant.
I’ll work hard and get a steady/
Really worthwhile job.
I promise, go to sleep.
I’ll never forget
To droop in/phone/write
I need any milk, I’ll yell.
The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award
Sophie’s career in publishing was hugely important to her and in her five years with Transworld, one of the Penguin Random House companies, she rose rapidly from Press Officer to Senior Publicity Manager.
In honour of her memory, Transworld is setting up The Sophie Christopher Volunteer Award, a sponsored volunteering scheme open to anyone working in publishing and bookselling.
In addition to her outstanding work as a publicist, Sophie made it her mission to improve the lives of others, from co-founding The FLIP, an interview series showcasing exceptional women working in the publishing industry, through to her work with Beyond the Streets, a UK charity working to end sexual exploitation. Sophie’s passions reflected her belief in the power of literacy and literature to change lives.
It is with these interests in mind, along with her love of travel, that Penguin Random House has decided to partner with the award-winning responsible volunteering organisation, people and places) to sponsor a two-week programme in autumn 2020 to support the work of the Treak Community Centre, close to Siem Reap in Cambodia.
The Centre is committed to creating opportunity, not dependency, and provides free, non-formal education and training that supplements and complements the Cambodian state system, offering a nursery, school, library, computer classes and a wide range of skills training. The aim is to help the local people learn new skills and increase their confidence so that they are better equipped to take control of their own futures.
Penguin Random House wants to build and develop a sustainable relationship with the community and plans to sponsor an annual placement to offer consistency and continuity.
Transworld’s Managing Director, Larry Finlay said ‘Sophie was an unstoppable force of positivity and enthusiasm. She is so hugely missed by all who knew her. This Award is a fitting tribute to an extraordinary person and will be just one of the many ways of keeping her cherished memory alive.’
Further details of the programme, how to apply and the selection process can be found by clicking the button below.