In the preface to Les Fleurs du mal, Baudelaire indicated that boredom is the truest suffering, and
this idea later became central to the fin de siècle movement, an era of decadence in which artifice
masqueraded as, or was even elevated to the status of, art. The Belladonna Invitation by Rose Biggin
is a Gothic exploration of the cult and cost of celebrity. It looks at the consequences of wealth, the
ethical complexity of aestheticism, and ultimately asks the question: is celebrity, or the mask of it,
worth dying for?

We loved this short, clever and intense book, and were lucky to have Rose on hand to explore its themes.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • A Rebours (Against Nature) by Joris-Karl Huysmans
  • A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews
  • Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
  • La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi

ROSE BIGGIN is a writer and theatre artist living in London. Her short fiction has been published in anthologies by Abaddon Books, Mango, Jurassic London, Betwixt Magazine, Brigids Gate Press and Egaeus Press, made the recommended reading list for Best of British Fantasy (NewCon Press), and won the Dark Sire’s Gothic Fiction Prize. Her first novel WILD TIME (Surface Press) is a punk revision of pleasure and power in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She is author of Immersive Theatre and Audience Experience (Palgrave Macmillan), she works as a performer across theatre and live art, and has recently joined the Creative Writing faculties at CityLit and Birkbeck.

Rose’s novel, The Belladonna Invitation, is published by Ghost Orchid Press.