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Bee Rowlatt

Talking about Jane Austen in Bagdad

Cartagena 2011, 
Bee Rowlatt, a reporter for the BBC World Service, looked for Iraqis who spoke English in order to find out about life in a Baghdad destroyed by war. That was when she found May Witwit, an English literature teacher who helped her students forget about bullets and bombs with stories about Jane Austen. Communicating by email, they became close friends despite differences in age, religion and culture. This correspondence, which was made into a book, provides a fascinating portrait of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and also describes an ingenious plan for May to escape from Baghdad, bringing her safely back to the United Kingdom.