Kate Bassett is the Literary Associate at Chichester Festival Theatre, a freelance script consultant and dramaturg, an author and an academic. She has been a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Reading and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow there. As an arts journalist and former theatre critic, she has written for The Times, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph and the TLS. She has hosted platform talks at the Barbican, the National Theatre, the British Library and elsewhere, and has served on judging panels for awards including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and Verity Bargate Award – twice chairing the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Her book In Two Minds: A Biography of Jonathan Miller (published by Oberon Books) was shortlisted for the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize, the Theatre Book Prize and the Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography.
Gillian Clarke was the National Poet of Wales 2008-2016. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2010 and the Wilfred Owen Award 2012. Her books include At the Source: A Writers Year (prose) and her tenth collection of poems, Ice, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award 2012. The Gathering, a poem-sequence for The National Theatre of Wales performed on Snowdon 2014. A new collection, Zoology, is published in 2017.
Simon J. James
Simon J. James is a Professor of English and the Head of Department at Durham University. He is an expert on British literary culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries, and has published on H. G. Wells, George Gissing and the Victorian bestseller. He is currently editing Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall and writing a book on Charles Dickens and memory. He is the academic curator of the exhibition Time Machines: The Past, the Future, and How Stories Take Us There.
Alan Johnson was born in May 1950. He is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Johnson was the Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle from 1997–2017. His first book, This Boy, won the RSL Ondaatje prize and the Orwell Prize in 2013. His second, Please Mister Postman, won the National Book Award for Autobiography of the Year in 2014. His latest book is The Long and Winding Road (2016).
Mark Lawson (Chair)
Mark Lawson has published five novels: Idlewild, Going Out Live, Enough Is Enough, The Deaths and The Allegations. His work as a broadcaster includes BBC Radio 4's Front Row, Foreign Bodies – A History of Crime Fiction and BBC4's Mark Lawson Talks to.... He also writes for the Guardian, the New Statesman and The Tablet.
Denise Mina left school early, after a peripatetic childhood in Glasgow, Paris, London, Invergordon, Bergen and Perth. She worked in a number of dead end jobs, all of them badly, before studying at night school to get into Glasgow University Law School. Denise went on to study for a PhD at Strathclyde, misusing her student grant to write her first novel. This was Garnethill, published in 1998, which won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel. She has now published 12 novels and also writes short stories, plays and graphic novels. In 2014 she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame. Denise presents TV and radio programmes as well as regularly appearing in the media, and has made a film about her own family. She regularly appears at literary festivals in the UK and abroad, leads masterclasses on writing and was a judge for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction 2014.
Anita Sethi is an award-winning journalist, critic and writer who has written for the Guardian and Observer, Sunday Times, Independent, Telegraph, New Statesman, Granta, and Times Literary Supplement, among others. In broadcasting she has appeared as a critic and commentator on several BBC programmes and is a regular speaker and chair at festivals in the UK and around the world. She has interviewed authors including Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Louis de Bernières, and Ian Rankin. Her short stories and essays have been published in several anthologies. She was born in Manchester, UK.