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Runnymede International Literary Festival

Magna Carta

A very warm welcome to the 2018 Runnymede International Literary Festival.


As in previous years, Royal Holloway, University of London, the Runnymede International Literary Association and Runnymede Borough Council, the principal festival partners, are working together to bring a programme of literary activities to Runnymede.

The Runnymede International Literary Festival 2018 will begin, on Wednesday, 14 March, with a book-launch in our London base, 11 Bedford Square, for the latest anthology of work by recent graduates from our highly esteemed MA in Creative Writing. Over the next two weeks, there will be a series of events on campus, open to staff, students and the general public, including a guest-lecture from Professor Ewan Fernie, Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford, on ‘Shakespeare and the making of the modern city’ on Friday, March 16. There will be a lecture from Dr James Smith on the New Right on Wednesday, March 21, and a second guest-lecture on March 22 from Professor Andrew Monagham on Power in Modern Russia. There will also be a day-long event on ‘Writing, Women and Suffrage’ on March 17 at Bedford Square, which concludes with readings by two novelists, Isabel Weidner and Deborah Levy, at the University of London Senate House. The festival will end on March 24 with another event at 11 Bedford Square on ‘Ecology and the non-human grounds of Poetry’. The event will include a panel discussion with Professor Jonathan Skinner from Warwick University, Dr Drew Milne from Cambridge University and Dr Zoe Skoulding from Bangor University. There will be readings by the panellists and other poets.


R:FEST 2018 Programme



Anthology Launch and Reading:

Graduates from the MA in Creative Writing

11 Bedford Square, London WC1 


The highly-esteemed MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway was established by Professor Sir Andrew Motion. Over the last ten years, it has made a name for itself as one of the leading Creative Writing MAs in the country through the success of its students. Graduates of the Royal Holloway writing programme include Tahmima Anam, whose novel, The Golden Age, was short-listed for the Orange Prize; Kayo Chingonyi, who won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize for his poetry; Sophie Robinson; Adam Riordan, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award; Sarah Perry, the author of The Essex Serpent, and many more.

Since it was founded, the MA has published an annual anthology of work by students, Bedford Square. The launch of this year’s anthology is an opportunity to hear work by writers from the MA’s three strands – Poetry, Fiction and Poetic Practice.


FRIDAY, 16 March

Public Lecture:

Professor Ewan Fernie: Shakespeare and the making of the modern city

Management Lecture Theatre, Royal Holloway


Professor Fernie, Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, is the author of numerous works on Shakespeare including Shame in Shakespeare (2002), Spiritual Shakespeares (2005), and Shakespeare for Freedom: Why the Plays Matter (2017). He is returning to Royal Holloway to argue for Shakespeare’s importance in relation to the development of the modern city.


SATURDAY, 17 March

Writing, Women and Suffrage


Part 1: one-day conference at 11 Bedford Square from 10.00 to 4.30.
Part 2: reading in the Woburn Room at the University of London Senate House in Russell Square starting at 5.30.


This event is the outcome of a collaborative research project organised by Professor Ruth Livesey and Professor Redell Olsen into women’s activism and education. The research project brought together students from the RHUL MA in ‘Victorian Literature, Art and Culture’ and ‘Poetic Practice’ to commemorate the contribution of women to the social and political life of Bloomsbury and Bedford College, 1850-1914.

Full details of the event are available on the blog:


Both events are FREE, but tickets must be booked through Eventbrite:


Please note: the events are ticketed separately.


a)   Conference at Bedford Square

10.00-11.00: Professor Rosemary Ashton OBE, FRSL, FBA

Professor Ashton will give a keynote lecture, ‘The Ladies College at 47 Bedford Square: Where It All Began’, on Royal Holloway’s pioneering contribution to tertiary education for women with the founding of Bedford College.


11.30-12.30: Professor David Herd and Dr Drew Milne

Professor Herd will talk about ‘The Campaign for Women’s Suffrage and the Campaign to End Indefinite Immigration Detention’, discussing how the state seeks to effect the exclusion of certain groups and individuals and how far poetics can contribute to forms of practice whose objectives are principally political and legal.

Dr Milne will discuss how the concept of the biotariat offers a way of reconsidering how the struggles for women’s suffrage mobilised conflicting conceptions of species-being.


1.30-2.30: Dr Georgina Colby and Dr Sarah Hayden

Dr Colby, who is the author of Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible, will talk about Kathy Acker and new forms of suffragism, while Dr Hayden, who is the author of Curious Disciplines: Mina Loy and Avant-garde Artisthood, will talk about Mina Loy.


2.30-3.30: Poetry Reading

Reading of work by Andrea Brady, Nisha Ramayya, Redell Olsen


3.30-4.30        Banner-making and Procession  


b)   Reading at Senate House: Isabel Waidner / Deborah Levy

Isabel Waidner is a writer and cultural theorist. She is the author of three books of innovative fiction. She will give a reading and contextual framing of her novels Gaudy Bauble (2017) and They Are Made of Diamond Stuff (work in progress), focussing on contemporary intersectional feminisms in Tory Britain

Deborah Levy FRSL is a playwright, poet and novelist. Her novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012 and her novel Hot Milk was shortlisted in 2016.She will be giving a keynote reading from her new book The Cost of Living, a working autobiography about the search for a freer life.

5.30: Woburn Room, University of London Senate House


MONDAY, 19 March

MA in Creative Writing: Open Evening

11 Bedford Square  


This is an Open Evening for those thinking of enrolling for our MA in Creative Writing. Find out more about the MA from teachers on the MA – who include Professors Lavinia Greenlaw, Redell Olsen and Jo Shapcott – as well as current and former students.



Public Lecture: Dr James Smith: The New Right

Moore Lecture Theatre, Royal Holloway, Egham


Dr James Smith is a distinguished scholar of eighteenth-century literature who also writes regularly on contemporary politics. He will be talking tonight about the rise of the New Right.


THURSDAY, 22 March

Public Lecture: Dr Andrew Monagham

‘Power in Modern Russia’

Moore Annexe Lecture Theatre  


Have you enjoyed McMafia? Do you want to know more about modern Russia? Dr Andrew Monagham is one of the UK’s leading Russia experts. He is Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College. He was previously Senior Research Fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. He is the author of a number of books including The New Politics of Russia – Interpreting Change (2016) and Power in Modern Russia: Strategy and Mobilisation (2017). He will be talking this evening about power in Modern Russia.


SATURDAY, 24 March

Poetry Event: Ecology and the non-human grounds of poetry


11 Bedford Square, London WCI


12.00 Poetry Reading:

Iris Columb, Tom Crompton, Calum Hazel and Libby Norman

Iris Columb is poet, artist and translator. She has ben resident artist and poet at the Centre for Recent Drawing. She is now Art Editor of Havithorn magazine and a member of the inter-disciplinary collective ‘No Such Thing’. Her poems have been exhibited at the National Poetry Library and published in Pocket Litter and Datableed; and her co-translation (with Elliot Koubis of Apollinaire’s The Stories and Adventures of the Baron d’Ormesan has recently come out with Ampersand.

Tom Crompton has published in Astronaut Zine, Red Fez Magazine, and Dead King and has set up PNG with David Devanny, a digital-media poetry dialogue.

Calum Hazel’s work has appeared in many places online, including Datableed, Epizootics, Great Works and Jungftak. His book TENDS was published by Veer in 2017.

Libby Norman is a queer performance artist, writer and fangirl. He is particularly interested in the ideas of performative labour and authorship in fanworks. She has performed at various venues across London including Camden Roundhouse and the Barbican. She is part of the Critical Interruptions live-writing collective and a founder member of ‘at some point’. 


1.30: Panel Discussion: Ecology and the non-human grounds of poetry

Drew Milne, Jonathan Skinner, Zoe Skoulding

Drew Milne is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he is the Judith E. Wilson Lecturer in Drama and Poetry. He has particular interests in modernist poetics, Marxism, eco-poetics and eco-critical theory. His publications include Marxist Literary Theory (1996), co-edited with Terry Eagleton, and Modern Critical Thought (2003) and numerous volumes of poetry from Sheet Mettle (1994) through to his recently published collected poems, In Darkest Capital (2017).

Jonathan Skinner is Associate Professor at the University of Warwick. His research interests are ecopoetics and contemporary poetry and poetics. He was the editor of the journal ecopoetics from 2001 to 2007. His recent poetry publications include Warblers (2010), Birds of Tifft (2011) and Chip Calls (2014), He is currently working on a creative-critical project on acoustic ecology called Vibrational Communication.

Zoe Skoulding is Director of Creative Writing at Bangor University. Her interests include performance, ecopoetics and urban space. She has a particular interest in feminist poetics and geography. Her publications include the poetry collections Remains of a Future City (2008) and The Museum for Disappearing Sounds (2013), which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Writing (2014. She has also published a critical monograph on Contemporary Women’s Poetry and Urban Space (2103).


3.00-4.00: Reading by Drew Milne, Jonathan Skinner and Zoe Skoulding


For details of previous festivals, visit the R:Fest page of our Showcase section.



Watch the video below for a taster of the festival in 2013:




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