Inspiring women on the books that made them

Last night, the Baileys Prize Book Bar at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road played host to an exceptional panel of inspiring women, chaired by novelist and Baileys Prize co-founder Kate Mosse – including this year’s Chair of Judges Margaret Mountford, literary agent Felicity Blunt, Siobhan Moriarty from Diageo’s Executive Committee and casting director Coralie Rose – who raged against the term ‘chick lit’ and chatted about the books that have most inspired them during their careers.

Margaret Mountford picked Mary Renaud and Jane Austen as her most influential authors, saying of Renaud ‘I know they’re very much set in their period but they’re also timeless. I don’t think they date. That must be the sign of a good author. They still speak even decades after they were originally written.’

Siobhan Moriarty chose George Eliot’s Silas Marner, Good Behaviour by Mollie Keane, of which she said ‘Molly was in her eighties when Good Behaviour was published. A very interesting character, a very strong woman and a very good writer.’

Felicity Blunt picked Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. She spoke of Du Maurier’s ability to move between genres, saying: ‘It’s a very rare thing for any author, especially a female author, to write different genres and not be pigeonholed. I feel you could put Daphne in any section of a bookshop.’

Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse and Zadie Smith’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted book White Teeth made Coralie Rose’s list, she said of Francoise Sagan: ‘She was eighteen when she wrote it, and so was I when I first read it. I was quite shocked by it, it was special, quite risqué and very good… It really set me alight – it brought literature to life for me.’

Keep your eyes peeled for a competition to win all eight inspiring reads! Stay tuned to our FacebookTwitter or Instagram to ensure you don’t miss out.