Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in June 2007. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud- stories of sex and love (2010). Half-English and half-French, Michèle Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
Michele will be speaking at 3pm on Sunday 15 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel in Waterside 3.
Amy Mason is 32 and currently lives in Oxford. Her debut novel The Other Ida has just won the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize and is published by Cargo. Her autobiographical show The Islanders which she wrote and performed in won the 2013 Ideas Tap/Underbelly Edinburgh Fringe Fund, received 5 and 4 star reviews, and was a ‘must see’ show in The Stage. The illustrated script was published by Nasty Little Press. She is currently working on Mass, a solo show about her relationship with faith.
Amy will be speaking at 3pm on Sunday 15 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel in Waterside 3.
Samantha Ellis is a playwright and author. The daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, she grew up in London. Her non-fiction book How to be a Heroine, about meeting her literary heroines again, is published by Chatto & Windus. Her plays include Patching Havoc, Sugar and Snow and Cling To Me Like Ivy, and she is a core member of women’s theatre company Agent 160. Her play Operation Magic Carpet will be at the Polka Theatre in April 2015, and she is writing a book for Chatto & Windus about Anne Brontë.
Samantha will be speaking at 3pm on Sunday 15 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel in Waterside 3.
Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. Her collection ‘Division Street’ is published by Chatto & Windus and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’, a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.
Helen is currently a Creative Writing Fellow at the School of English, University of Leeds.
Helen will be speaking at 3pm on Sunday 15 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel in Waterside 3.
Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese-British novelist and filmmaker, who uses cinema and literary language to explore themes of alienation, memory, personal journeys, daily tragedies, literature translation and develops her own vision of China’s past and its future in a global environment. Her novels have been translated into more than 26 languages. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists, a list drawn up once a decade.
She has lectured on Creative Writing and Filmmaking at King’s College London, the University of Westminster, Colgate University in the USA as well as at Harvard University. She is currently an honorary Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Xiaolu Guo will be speaking at 3pm on Sunday 15 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel in Waterside 3.
For six years Sarah LeFanu was Artistic Director of the Bath Literature Festival, and she continues to chair events for them as well as for the Bristol Festival of Ideas. She is a part-time tutor on the BA in English Literature and Community Engagement at the University of Bristol, where last year she was also RLF Writing Fellow.
She’s the author of an acclaimed biography of the writer Rose Macaulay, and in 2014 delivered one of the Festival of Ideas/University of Bristol Autumn Art Series public lectures on Rose Macaulay and War. Her most recent books are S is for Samora: A Lexical Biography of Samora Machel and the Mozambican Dream and Dreaming of Rose: A Biographer’s Journal.
She has been a judge for the James Tiptree Award (an annual award for works of SF and fantasy that expand and explore the understanding of gender), and for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Sarah will be chairing the Women Writing Today panel at 3pm on Sunday 15 March in Waterside 3.
- Writer, journalist, broadcaster, playwright;
- Provocative and influential feminist;
Beatrix will be speaking at the Women, Feminism and Journalism event at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 March in Waterside 3.
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman, and has written for everywhere from Edge magazine to the New York Times. She is a regular panellist on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, and she tweets: @helenlewis
Helen will be speaking at the Women, Feminism and Journalism event at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 March in Waterside 3.
Finn Mackay has been involved in feminist activism for twenty years and founded the London Feminist Network and the revived London Reclaim the Night in 2004. After a career in policy and training on domestic violence prevention education in local government, Finn returned to academia completing her PhD on the British Women’s Liberation Movement. Finn is currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England and is the author of “Radical Feminism: Feminist Activism in Movement” published with Palgrave (2015). Finn is a Trustee of the Feminist Archive, an Ambassador for the Worker’s Educational Association and serves on the Executive of the Feminist & Women’s Studies Association.
Finn will be speaking at the Women, Feminism and Journalism event at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 March in Waterside 3.
Nimco Ali is a British Somali social activist who has worked as a civil servant and independent consultant. She is co-founder and director of Daughters of Eve, a non-profit organisation which focuses on education and awareness raising to stamp out female genital mutilation (FGM). Nimco is currently working for The Girl Generation: Together To End FGM which celebrates the Africa-led movement to end FGM in one generation. In 2014, Nimco was awarded Red magazine’s Woman of the Year award together with Leyla Hussein for their work with Daughters of Eve, and named number 6 on Woman Hour’s power list.
Nimco is also a trustee for women for refugee women, Emma Humphreys memorial prize and an independent Child protection chair.
Nimco will be speaking at the Women, Feminism and Journalism event at 2.30pm on Saturday 14 March in Waterside 3.
Professor Helen Hackett
Helen Hackett is Professor of English at UCL and the author of five books on Renaissance literature. She has special interests in Renaissance women writers and in literary images of Elizabeth I. Her latest book is A Short History of English Renaissance Drama (I.B. Tauris, 2013), which includes a section on women’s contribution to drama in Shakespeare’s time.
Professor Hackett will be delivering a talk on Women Writing in Shakespeare’s Time in Waterside 3 on Sunday 15 March at 1pm.
A welcome return to the festival for Selma Dabbagh, a London based British Palestinian writer of novels, short stories and plays. Her first novel, ‘Out of It,’ (Bloomsbury, 2011) is set between Gaza, London and the Gulf and has been voted Guardian Book of the Year. Selma also works as a lawyer.
Selma will be talking at the Poetry, Prose and Palestine event on Saturday 14 March in Waterside 3 at 6pm.
Emma Rees is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Chester. She was born and bred in Birmingham, and took her BA and PhD at the University of East Anglia, before moving to the University of Chester in 1999. Her main teaching interests are early modern literature (her first book was about Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-73)), and literature and film. She has published extensively in the field of gender and representation, and her book The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury) was first published in 2013, and is out in paperback early in 2015. In ‘Vulvanomics: How We Talk About Vaginas’, Emma considers why British and US culture has such a problem when talking about the female body; she maps the long history of advertising that profits from the taboo of the vagina, and she reflects on how writers, artists and filmmakers have been influenced by, or even perpetuate, this ‘shame’.
Emma will be speaking at the The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History event on Sunday 15 March in Waterside 3 at 11am.
Founder and Director
Sian Norris is a writer based in Bristol. Her first novel, Greta and Boris: A daring rescue was published in 2013. It’s inspired by her love of adventure, summer holidays, classic children’s literature, and – of course – cats. She is the founder and director of The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. Sian is passionate about encouraging children and young people to read, and in her spare time runs creative workshops to get children reading and writing. Her Kindle Single, The Boys on the Bus, is available at Amazon. Sian is now working on her second novel, about the women in Gertrude Stein’s circle during the 1920s.
Sian will be introducing the film, Paris was a Woman at 11am on Saturday 14 March in Cinema 2 and facilitating a discussion afterwards.
The Glory of Pride and Prejudice: An evening to celebrate Jane Austen
Chaired by Professor Helen Taylor
Helen Taylor has published widely on American southern literature and culture, and is also known for feminist critical articles and editions, as well as engagement with radical pedagogy. Her books include Gender, Race, and Region in the Writings of Grace King, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Kate Chopin(1989), Scarlett’s Women: Gone With the Wind and its Female Fans (1989, translated into Finnish and Japanese), and Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (2001). Having taught English and American literature and Women’s Studies at the universities of Louisiana State, West of England, Bristol and Warwick, she moved to Exeter in 1999. She has worked with three collectives, the Marxist-Feminist Literature Collective, the Bristol Women’s Studies Group, and Literature Teaching Politics. The first group encouraged her to begin writing about women’s fiction; the second resulted in Virago’s ground-breaking textbook for adult education, Half the Sky: An Introduction to Women’s Studies (1979); the third produced one collection of Conference Papers, 1985 and a co-edited Literature Teaching Politics Journal 6 (1987).
Jean Burnett is the writer of ‘Who Needs Mr Darcey’ – a delightful and very funny romp through Regency Europe as we follow the adventures of the widowed Mrs Wickham – otherwise known as Lydia Bennett. She has also published her memoir of backpacking in the steps of 19th century women adventurers.
Professor Jane Spencer
Jane Spencer’s research interests are in eighteenth-century and Romantic studies, in women’s literary history from the Restoration to the nineteenth century, in feminist criticism, and in animal studies. Her critical writing, ranging widely over fiction, poetry, drama and periodical literature from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, is driven by her long-standing desire to understand the processes by which people build up literary and cultural traditions, and especially to investigate women’s part in these processes.
Bristol actress, Kim Hicks – trained at the famous Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Best known for her one woman shows, the first (and still most popular) is ‘Courtship’ scenes from the novels of Jane Austen, which Kim has now been performing with undiminished pleasure for over 30 years.
The speakers from the first festival event, in March 2013 were:
BIDISHA is a writer, critic and radio and TV presenter. Her latest book is a war reportage, Beyond the Wall: Writing A Path Through Palestine.
Women’s Writing Today:
Stella Duffy has written thirteen novels, forty five short stories, and ten plays. The Room of Lost Things and State of Happiness were both longlisted for the Orange Prize, and she has twice won Stonewall Writer of the Year. She won the 2002 CWA Short Story Dagger for Martha Grace. She is also a theatre director and performer, specialising in collaborative/devised and inprovised work, often made in Open Space.
Photo: Gino Sprio
Photo credit: Caroline Forbes
Beatrice Hitchman was born in London in 1980. She read English and French at Edinburgh University and then studied for an MA in Comparative Literature. After a year living in Paris, she moved back to the UK, trained and worked as a documentary editor. She has written and directed short films and had a short story published in Chroma Literary Journal. In 2009 she completed the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa and won the Greene & Heaton Prize for PETITE MORT, which is her first novel.
Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction based in London.
Her writing is mainly set in the contemporary Middle East. Recurring themes in her work are idealism (however futile), placelessness, political engagement (or lack thereof) and the impact of social conformity on individuals.
Selma’s first novel, Out of It, is being published by Bloomsbury (UK) on 5 December and Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Press (BQFP) on 17 December 2011. The US edition is coming out with Bloomsbury USA on August 7th 2012.
Out of the Ivory Tower:
Kat Banyard is author of The Equality Illusion and founder of UK Feminista – an organisation that supports grassroots feminist activism. In 2010 she was named in the Guardian as ‘the most influential young feminist in the country’, and in 2011 was named one of the Observer’s 50 contemporary innovators, described as “Game-changers whose vision is transforming the world around us”.
Kat featured in Glamour Magazine’s ‘The Glamour Power List 2011’ and was shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights Award in 2010. She was previously Campaigns Officer at the Fawcett Society and in 2007 she was profiled in Observer Woman magazine as one of ‘The New Feminists’. Prior to her work at Fawcett, Kat worked for the Northern Refugee Centre in Sheffield setting up women’s groups. She was born in 1982 and currently lives in London.
Kristin Aune is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Derby, where she is Director of the Centre for Society, Religion & Belief. She has published widely on feminism, gender and religion. Her most recent books are Women and Religion in the West (Ashgate, 2008, coedited with S. Sharma & G. Vincett) and Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement (Zed, 2010, coauthored with Catherine Redfern). She is currently writing a book about Christian students’ experiences in higher education.
Deborah Withers is a writer, researcher, curator and publisher who lives in Bristol. She is the founder of HammerOn Press, which has published a creative re-interpretation of her PhD thesis called Adventures in Kate Bush and Theory, the exhibition catalogue for Sistershow Revisited and The Exciting Life of Being a Woman: A Handbook for Women and Girls by Feminist Webs. Her academic research has been published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, Women: A Cultural Review and the European Journal of Women’s Studies. Most recently she contributed a chapter to the book Women Make Noise, based on her research from the online Women’s Liberation Music Archive, and its subsequent touring exhibition Music & Liberation. Deborah also works part time at the University of the West of England, and plays drums in the punk post-pop band, bellies!
Josephine Tsui is a feminist writer and blogger. She regularly writes for the F Word and is a contributing editor to the book ‘Good Girls Marry Doctors’, a book written by Asian-American women who were raised by immigrant Tiger Parents, and who struggle with balancing their parents’ expectations while fulfilling their own desires. Further, it draws on the voices of women who have not only navigated this terrain, but have fought hard to honour their upbringings while simultaneously determining their own futures. These are women have moulded their lives to reflect both their personal choices and their parental culture.
Bluestockings and Muses:
Professor Helen Hackett
Helen Hackett is a Professor of English at University College London. Her chief interest is Renaissance literature by and about women, and her books include Women and Romance Fiction in the English Renaissance; Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary; and Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths. She is co-director of the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges which explores all kinds of intercultural exchange in the period 1450-1800.
Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts
Marie Mulvey-Roberts is an Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of the West of England, Bristol where she teaches Gothic literature and film. She has produced over 30 books and is the editor of the journal Women’s Writing, which she co-founded in 1994. She has edited 18 volumes on the history of British feminism and has been the General Editor for three paperback series on women writers published by a Bristol publisher: Subversive Women, Her Write His Name and For Her Own Good. More recently, she has edited scholarly editions of the work of Victorian novelist, Rosina Bulwer Lytton, including three volumes of her letters. She has also published on Rosina’s mother the feminist philosopher Anna Wheeler and her grand-daughter, the suffragette Constance Lytton. Currently she is working on a book entitled Dangerous Bodies: Corporeality and the Body.
Dr Charlotte Crofts
Charlotte Crofts is the author of ‘Anagrams of Desire: Angela Carter’s writing for Radio, Film and Television’ in which she engages with debates around the translation of feminist texts to mainstream media; she is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and Video Production at the University of the West of England, a filmmaker and creative producer. In her current practice she is interested in exploring how new media can be used to celebrate cinema heritage, inspired by one of Carter’s short stories ‘The Merchant of Shadows’.
Professor Helen Taylor
Helen Taylor has published widely on American southern literature and culture, and is also known for feminist critical articles and editions, as well as engagement with radical pedagogy. Her books include Gender, Race, and Region in the Writings of Grace King, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Kate Chopin(1989), Scarlett’s Women: Gone With the Wind and its Female Fans (1989, translated into Finnish and Japanese), and Circling Dixie: Contemporary Southern Culture through a Transatlantic Lens (2001). Having taught English and American literature and Women’s Studies at the universities of Louisiana State, West of England, Bristol and Warwick, she moved to Exeter in 1999. She has worked with three collectives, the Marxist-Feminist Literature Collective, the Bristol Women’s Studies Group, and Literature Teaching Politics. The first group encouraged her to begin writing about women’s fiction; the second resulted in Virago’s ground-breaking textbook for adult education,Half the Sky: An Introduction to Women’s Studies (1979); the third produced one collection of Conference Papers, 1985 and a co-edited Literature Teaching Politics Journal 6 (1987).
Kate Williams is the author of the novel, The Pleasures of Men, and the biographies Young Elizabeth, Becoming Queen and England’s Mistress. She discusses history regularly on TV and radio and teaches at Royal Holloway, London.
Professor Joan Adim-Addo
Bringing women’s issues to a mainstream TV audience:
Emilia di Girolamo
Emilia di Girolamo is a television screenwriter. With a PhD in the rehabilitation of offenders, Emilia worked in prison and probation for eight years and is passionate about the reformation of women’s prisons and the justice system. Emilia was Lead Writer and Co-Producer on Law & Order: UK and is currently Associate Producer. Her two part adaptation of Erin Kelly’s novel The Poison Tree airs on ITV1 later this year and Emilia is currently writing several pilot’s for original series with the BBC and a single film for C4. Emilia has a particular passion for bringing the challenging issues around VAWG to a television audience and has written controversially about group rape, women’s imprisonment and child abuse. Emilia has written several plays, a novel, FREAKY, (Spacehopper/Pulp Books 1999) and has also written for The Guardian and various women’s and literary magazines.
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