Joanna Scutts is a literary critic, cultural historian, and the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society. She is the author of The Extra Woman, the story of the 1930s lifestyle guru Marjorie Hillis and the lives of single women in midcentury America (available here!) She writes book reviews and features for The Washington Post, The New Republic, The New Yorker online, and The Guardian US, among many others.
Joanna will be talking about her book The Extra Woman at 10am on Saturday 17 March. Book now
Sheila Rowbotham, who helped to start the women’s liberation movement in Britain has written widely on the history of feminism and radical social movements, her most recent books are Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love (2008) Dreamers of a New Day (2010) and Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in Britain and the United States. (2016)
Sheila will be speaking at 11.30am on Saturday 17 March, as part of the 100 Years Since Suffrage panel.
Award winning journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC1. She has a special interest in the intersection of culture, politics and social change. She won a Stonewall Broadcast of the Year award while a presenter and correspondent at Channel 4 News for her film on so-called “corrective” rape of lesbian women in South Africa. Samira’s broadcasting on Radio 3 and 4 includes documentaries about David Bowie’s teenage Asian female fans, John Ruskin and female liberation in girls’ education and Laura Ingalls’ America. Samira is a trustee of the Centre for Women’s Justice and UK Feminista. Samira began her career as a BBC News trainee and covered the OJ Simpson case while BBC LA correspondent. She’s also been a reporter on Newsnight, the Today programme and a news anchor on BBC Newschannel, World Service TV and Deutsche Welle TV. Samira is a visiting professor of journalism at Kingston University and her writing has appeared in a range of journals and newspapers including The New Statesman, The Guardian and The New Humanist. www.samiraahmed.co.uk
Photo credit: FCO
Samira will be speaking at 11.30am on Saturday 17 March, as part of the 100 Years Since Suffrage panel.
Nimco will be speaking at 11.30am on Saturday 17 March, as part of the 100 Years Since Suffrage panel.
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
Rhiannon will be speaking at 11.30am on Saturday 17 March, as part of the 100 Years Since Suffrage panel.
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).
Helen will be charing the 100 Years Since Suffrage panel.
Louise Doughty is the author of eight novels, most recently Black Water, which was published in 2016 to critical acclaim in the UK and US where it was nominated as one of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her previous book was the Top Ten bestseller Apple Tree Yard, adapted for BBC One as a four-part series starring Emily Watson. Her sixth novel, Whatever You Love, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has also won awards for radio drama and short stories, along with publishing one work of non-fiction, A Novel in a Year, based on her popular newspaper column. She is a critic and cultural commentator for UK and international newspapers and broadcasts regularly for the BBC. She lives in London.
Louise will be speaking at 2.30pm on Saturday 17 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel.
Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, translator and activist. She has published two collections of poetry and two critically acclaimed novels, The Gypsy Goddess (2014) and When I Hit You (2017).
Meena will be speaking at 2.30pm on Saturday 17 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel.
Jenny Landreth is a script editor and writer. She is the author of Swell: A Waterbiography, that tells the history of women’s swimming. She has written two guide books – on the great trees of London, and on the best places to swim in the capital. Jenny was the main contributor to the Guardian’s weekly swimming blog, writing on everything from pool rules, to swimming with children, and where to swim in New York. She lives in London.
Credit: Nando Farah
Jenny will be speaking at 2.30pm on Saturday 17 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel.
Amy Sackville was born in Plymouth in 1981. She has degrees from Leeds, Exeter College, Oxford, and Goldsmiths. Her first novel The Still Point was longlisted for the Orange Prize and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and her second, Orkney, won the Somerset Maugham Award. She lives in London
Photo credit: Sarah Clark
Amy will be speaking at 2.30pm on Saturday 17 March, as part of the Women Writing Today panel.
Bidisha is a journalist, film-maker and broadcaster for BBC radio and TV and SKY. She is a Trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation and writes regularly for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. Her fifth book is Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices (2015) and her debut short film is An Impossible Poison (2017).
Bidisha will be chairing the Women Writing Today panel.
Professor Marie Mulvey-Roberts
MARIE MULVEY-ROBERTS is Professor of English Literature at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her teaching and research interests include Gothic and gender. She is the co-founder and editor of Women’s Writing on historical women writers, for which she co-edited a special issue on Mary Shelley. Her more recent books Dangerous Bodies: Historicising the Gothic Corporeal and Literary Bristol: Writers and the City have chapters on Frankenstein. With Carol M. Davison, she has edited Global Frankenstein and her films on Frankenstein and its links to Bristol and Bath are included in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) run by the English start at UWE on the literary South West.
Marie is talking about 200 years since Frankenstein at 11am on Sunday 18 March.
Joanna Walsh is the author of seven books. The most recent, Break.up will be published by Semiotext(e) in the US and Tuskar Rock in the UK in April 2018. Her writing has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Granta Magazine, gorse journal, Salt’s Best British Short Stories and The Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction. She edits at online literary journals 3:AM Magazine and Catapult, writes literary and cultural criticism for an number of publications including The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian. She founded and runs @read_women, described by the New York Times as “a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers.” She is a UK Arts Foundation Fellow for Literature, and Centenary Burgess Fellow at the University of Manchester.
Joanna will be talking at 1.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of Read Women: Why we love talking about books
Alexia Richardson is part of the Read Women team on Twitter, where she tweets as @Lillie_Langtry. Originally from York, she now lives in Cologne, Germany. She completed a PhD in Latin American visual culture at the University of Durham before changing career paths to become a translator in the public sector. She is interested in reading widely, particularly works in translation and from Latin America, and sharing thoughts on books both online and in real life.
Alexia will be talking at 1.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of Read Women: Why we love talking about books
Shoshana Kessler is director and co-founder of Hurst Street Press, a printing press and publishing house based in Oxford and London dedicated to publishing limited edition letterpress-printed books of new writing and art.
Shoshana will be talking at 1.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of Read Women: Why we love talking about books
Sian is the Founder and Director of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. She is a novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist.
Sian will be talking at 1.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of Read Women: Why we love talking about books
Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the ’90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum ‘n’ bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks, and music can’t help creeping into her books. Orangeboy, her debut book for young adults was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction. Indigo Donut, her second book about young adults, was published in July 2017. It was book of the week in the The Times, Sunday Times and Observer and one of The Times top children’s books in 2017.
Patrice will be talking at 3.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of the Writing YA event.
Sara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age. Sara is the writer of Beautiful Broken Things; A Quiet Kind of Thunder; and Goodbye Perfect.
Sara will be talking at 3.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of the Writing YA event.
Holly started her writing career as a news journalist, where she was nominated for Best Print Journalist of the Year. She then spent six years working as an editor, a relationship advisor, and general ‘agony aunt’ for a youth charity – helping young people with their relationships and mental health. Inspired by what she saw, she started writing teen fiction, including the best-selling, award-winning ‘Spinster Club’ series which helps educate teenagers about feminism. When she turned thirty, Holly wrote her first adult novel, examining the intensified pressures on women once they hit that landmark.
Alongside her writing, Holly has a keen interest in women’s rights and is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health problems. She’s helped create online apps that teach young people about sexual consent, works with Women’s Aid to spread awareness of abusive relationships, and runs Rethink’s mental health book club.
Holly will be talking at 3.30pm on Sunday 18 March as part of the Writing YA event.
A long-standing enthusiast of young adult fiction, Eleanor has chaired young adult events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) and the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, interviewing Patrick Ness, Cecilia Ahern, Teri Terry and many more. Eleanor had her first young adult short story published in 2015 and is currently working on a young adult novel.
A supporter of school and public libraries, Eleanor once delivered 25 copies of Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go to five school libraries across Edinburgh in one afternoon for World Book Night!
Eleanor will be chairing the Writing YA event.
BELOW YOU CAN TAKE A LOOK AT SPEAKERS FROM PREVIOUS FESTIVALS AND BWLF EVENTS
2015 Speakers – biogs are correct as of 2015
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- Writer, journalist, broadcaster, playwright;
- Provocative and influential feminist
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
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.
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.
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.
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’.
2013 Speakers – please note these biographies are correct as of 2013
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.
Helen Dunmore sadly passed away in 2017. You can read Festival Founder Sian Norris’ tribute to her on our blog.
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.
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.
DM 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. DM 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:
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)
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.