Performance Publishing

The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2021 has longlisted the first book in our Historiographic Fictions series: Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths.

The Prize celebrates fiction set over 60 years ago. Which of our books should fans of historical fiction investigate and (ahem) qualify for free UK postage?

There’s been an explosion of lively ideas and fresh ways of storytelling, with traditional notions of historical fiction stretched and tested.

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2021

We are delighted that Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths has found such good company. Griffiths asks what would have happened if Beethoven had travelled to the United States to take up a commission to write a biblical oratorio for Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society. He answers the question with a series of inventive and moving experiments in style, which portray our tenuous connections with the past.

The Blackbird by Claire Allen oscillates between the building of Liverpool Cathedral during 1941’s Blitz, and a post-war housing estate in 2014. Hope’s mother tests the limitations imposed upon her by her controlling husband by forming a relationship with a mason. Meanwhile we follow Hope as an older woman caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s. Louise enters her life as a carer, also dealing with harassment from an old boyfriend. Discover the blog tour here.

Dedalus by Chris McCabe is the sequel to Joyce’s classic Ulysses. It charts Stephen’s progress the day after Bloomsday. Consequently the book takes place on a particular day in history: 17th June 1904.

Parts of this book will remain with me, and pollute my reading of Hamlet and Ulysses, forever. I also add it to my personal library of Great Books About Dead Fathers.

Max Porter : Author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers and Lanny

Buy all three titles here

#WaltScottPrize #HistoricalFiction #Literature

The UK’s leading prize for historical fiction longlists Paul Griffiths!

The novel we published in Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year will be celebrated in Sir Walter Scott’s 250th year by the the prize that bears his name.

Paul Griffiths and Mr. Beethoven find themselves in the estimable company of THE MIRROR AND THE LIGHT by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate) and HAMNET by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline). The prize helped establish Benjamin Myers’ The Gallows Pole (Bluemoose Books) in 2018.

Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths and The Blackbird by Claire Allen are the first two titles in our Historiographic Fictions series, in which we publish novels that add new techniques to the writing of historical fiction. (Buy both titles direct from our shop and you will qualify for free UK postage).

You can buy Mr. Beethoven direct here (The Goldsmiths Prize 2020 shortlist; Sir Walter Scott Prize 2021 longlist; Republic of Consciousness Prize 2021 longlist; a book of the year 2020 in The White Review).

Trade orders can be placed via Ingram (NBNi) and Gardners.

Some copies of the handmade Artists Book edition are also still available for pre-order. Email us for details.

Paul Griffiths reads from his longlisted novel

The novel that takes Beethoven to America strikes Gold!

We are delighted that Paul Griffiths’ Mr. Beethoven has been included in the shortlist of six books for the Goldsmith Prize 2020, for “fiction at its most novel.”

This Mr. Beethoven most certainly is; oscillating between an almost cinematic account of what it would have been like for the composer to take up a commission in Boston, and the historiography of Griffiths’ search for the composer and C19th Boston Society. The results convey how fragile the historical record is (an important lesson for our Fake News times).

Griffiths has written the libretto for a commission the world will never hear and reviewed its first performance with his peerless critical skills.

Buy Mr. Beethoven paperback from us here or Inpress Books here

The first impression! Buy a second book from our back catalogue to qualify for free postage.

Paul Griffiths reads a short extract from Mr. Beethoven

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The Deluxe Version

Binding of handmade deluxe copies in our studio (£50) is about to begin, a limited edition that was more or less sold out to our subscribers earlier this year. Email us at david [at] to be added to a waiting list and we will see what we can do.

Mr. Beethoven arrives today.

It takes irreverence to pay tribute to an iconoclast. Paul Griffiths’ invention, wit and skill have created the Beethoven 250 tribute. We could not be more proud of this book.

Travel to the United States in their infancy. Watch Boston society boil with anticipation as it produces Beethoven’s biblical oratorio. Feel the potential energy Griffiths weaves around this performance both the composer and the world would never hear.

Buy now:

Live Events

The launches of Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths and The Blackbird by Claire Allen are postponed until Autumn 2020. Register your interest at david[at]

Buy Books

You can still use our online shop as normal. Orders are sent direct from NBN International, who are observing strict measures to keep staff and customers safe.

The Trade can still buy wholesale from orders[at]

New Books

Our publishing schedule for 2020 remains unchanged.

Make your mark on Beethoven250 by subscribing to THE Beethoven book of 2020. Deadline 14th March.

Visit to preview and pre-order Paul Griffiths’ amazing novel. A google form allows you to choose a name (yourself or even a friend or family member) to be printed in the back as a supporter of the project.

Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths depicts what could have happened if the Composer has lived seven more years and visited the United States to fulfill a commission.

There are scores Beethoven never heard performed because of his deafness. There are also scores that were never heard because they were never written. The world renowned librettist Paul Griffiths has taken one such commission of 1823 as the starting point for a staggering Oulipean historical fiction. A biblical Oratorio for the United States.

Griffiths the librettist has written that missing text for Beethoven; a simple, beautiful setting that is genuinely sublime in that it deals in paradox and expanses of time and space. Griffiths the poet has rendered it with wit and depth of feeling. Griffiths the music critic has evoked the music itself, the music we can never hear. We read with envy.

A preview of the verses that form part of Mr. Beethoven is available at our stall at Conway Hall, as is the opportunity to pre-order


The peerless online publishing platform, Unbound, has invited us to hold our pre-sale for Mr. Beethoven, by Paul Griffiths, with them.

We’ll be pulling back the curtain on our studio with the most powerful publishing algorithms on the planet.

You can read an extract and buy all editions here:

Paperback – £13 (FREE UK p&p)
Limited Edition hardback – £50 (£5 UK p&p)

Mr. Beethoven 

Internationally respected music historian Paul Griffiths (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, OBE) and music critic (The New Yorker, The New York Times) imagine a visit by Beethoven to the United States to write a Biblical oratorio.

Griffiths weaves in the historiography of his search for what Beethoven could have done, becoming an account of the fragility of historical sources.

The Composer comes to rely on two women, the widow Mrs. Hill and Thankful; whose Martha’s Vineyard sign-language conducts conversations with the Composer.

The composer brings his time, his temperament and his sense of democracy to us. But he can’t possibly fit in. The challenge of Beethoven 250 will be to retain a Beethoven who is among us but refuses to fit in. He must be a Beethoven who retains the ability to help us leave the normal world, not the Beethoven who assures that this is the way the world must be. – Mark Swed, LA Times