Three creative writers and academics from Royal Holloway, University of London Department of English have received the prestigious honour of being elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL).
The trio are Adam Roberts, Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature, Ben Markovits, Professor of English and Creative Writing, and Nikita Lalwani, Lecturer in Creative Writing. They join the department’s existing Fellows, Jo Shapcott and Lavinia Greenlaw, which means the department is home to five Fellows.
The Royal Society of Literature is a learned society founded in 1820 by King George IV and seeks to honour ‘some of the greatest names in contemporary literature’. Past Fellows include, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Hardy, W, B. Yeats, Chinua Achebe, J. K. Rowling, Hilary Mantel and Zadie Smith.
Adam Roberts is a distinguished science fiction author. Three of his novels, Salt, Gradisil and Yellow Blue Tibia were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and his novel By Light Alone was shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award. He has published more than a dozen novels and a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF, stories and parodies.
Ben Markovits received the James Tait Black Award for Fiction in 2016 for his novel You Don't Have To Live Like This. He has written essays, stories and reviews for a number of publications, including The New York Times, Esquire, Granta and the London Review of Books. He has published seven novels, including Either Side of Winter, about a New York private school. Ben won a Pushcart Prize for his short story Another Sad, Bizarre Chapter in Human History. Granta selected him as one of the Best of Young British Novelists in 2013.
Nikita Lalwani was born in Kota, Rajasthan and raised in Cardiff. Her work has been translated into sixteen languages. Her first book, Gifted, was long listed for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Lalwani was also nominated as Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. In June 2008, she won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction and donated the £10,000 prize to human rights campaigners, Liberty. Lalwani’s second book, The Village, was published in 2012 and selected as one of eight titles for the Fiction Uncovered campaign for the best of British fiction in 2013.
Professor Juliet John, Head of the Department of English at Royal Holloway said: “This is an outstanding achievement for each of our writers individually. Recognition on this scale by the Royal Society of Literature confirms our reputation as one of the very best places in the world for aspiring writers to grow their talents.
“Only a small number of Fellows are elected each year, so it’s a remarkable achievement for three to come from one English department. We believe our English department is therefore home to more FRSLs than any other in the country. This is recognition of the value Royal Holloway places on creativity and the craft of writing.
“As all our writers are also dedicated teachers, they have passed on their passion for literature to many students who are now successful, published authors in their own right.
“Our Creative Writing courses enable students to become confident and expressive writers, with an understanding of significant periods, writers and genres.”
New Fellows sign the RSL Roll Book with a pen which belonged to a literary giant. Alongside pens used by T.S. Eliot and Lord Byron, the RSL this year used a pen owned by George Eliot, an alumna of the university. Royal Holloway’s writers used all three pens between them.