Consigned to the file marked Historical Fiction: Fiction Festival

10-12 March, 2023

Carol Birch • Guinevere Glasfurd • Sally Emerson

Stephen May • Jane Feaver • Michelle Cahill

Rachel Hore • DJ Taylor • Miranda Seymour

Writers’ potted biographies:

Sally Emerson was educated at Wimbledon High School and St Anne’s, Oxford. She is the author of two books of non-fiction, has edited four anthologies and published six novels. Second Sight (1980) won a Yorkshire Post First Novel award. There followed two dark love stories; Fire Child and Heat, and the best-selling Separation about the power of children. All six were republished by Quartet Books in 2017. Her prose has been compared with that of Muriel Spark. Her first collection of short stories, Perfect: Stories Of The Impossible, (2022), was included in Tatler’s List of Unmissable Books of the Spring.

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she taught publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the witter DJ Taylor and they have three sons. Her most recent novels are A Beautiful Spy and last year’s One Moonlit Night, a mystery set in WWII Norfolk and France.

John Lucas is a poet and author of seven novels, most recently That Little Thread (2023), all of them published by Greenwich Exchange, and a collection of short stories, The Hotel of Dreams. His other books include Next Year Will Be Better: England in the 1950s (a Book of the Year in both the Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement), 92 Acharnon Street: A Year in Greece, (Winner of the 2008 Dolman Award for Travel Writing), A Brief History of Whistling, co- authored with Allan Chatburn (2013, reptd. 2021), The Awkward Squad: Rebels in English Cricket, short-listed for the 2015 Cricket Writers Book of the Year Award, and Closing Time at the Royal Oak (2021), an account of the decline and fall of a Nottingham public house.

Michelle Cahill is an author of fiction, essays and three prize-winning collections of poetry. She was born in Kenya, attended primary school in London before migrating to Australia, where she now lives. She edits the online literary magazine Mascara and co-edits the anthology, Contemporary Asian Australian Poets. She was with us for the poetry festival in 2017 and returns with her debut novel, Daisy and Woolf, a meditation on art, race and class in a postcolonial world. The novel gives voice to a peripheral character, Daisy Simmons, from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.

Stephen May is the author of six novels, including Life! Death! Prizes! which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award, and the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, and We Don’t Die of Love (2019). Stephen was with us for our festival in 2010, with his debut novel, Tag (2009, Wales Book of the Year), and starting already from that high point, his writing just gets better and better. His latest and best is Sell Us The Rope, (2022) - a novel about Stalin’s formative trip to London as a young man. He also writes for television and film from his home in West Yorkshire.

Carol Birch was born in Manchester and attended Keele University. She won the 1988 David Higham Award for the Best First Novel of the Year, for Life in the Palace, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize with The Fog Line in 1991, and she was long-listed for the 2003 Booker Prize. In 2016, the dazzling Orphans of the Carnival evoked the strange and thrilling world of the Victorian Carnival. In her latest, Shadow Girls, (2022), she renders the atmosphere of the 1960s impeccably and conveys most brilliantly the taut, complicated relationships between teenage girls with all their neediness, bravado and gullibility.

Guinevere Glasfurd originally from the North of England, now lives in Waterbeach, and graduated with Distinction from the MA Creative Writing course at Anglia Ruskin University. Her short stories have been published by Mslexia and The Scotsman and in a collection from the National Galleries of Scotland. She has won awards from Arts Council England and the British Council. Guinevere’s first novel, The Words In My Hand, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and her second, The Year Without Summer was short-listed for the HWA Gold Crown Award 2020. Privilege was published in 2022.

Jane Feaver has been writing and publishing fiction since 2006. She was born in Durham and moved to London aged six. After her degree in English at Oxford, she worked in the editorial department at Faber & Faber. Writing in earnest began in 2001 after she and her daughter moved to Cornwall, from where she lectured in Creative Writing at Exeter University. She is now working in London. Crazy is her fourth book and blends fiction and memoir of dysfunctional family relationships and tensions.

DJ Taylor is the author of thirteen novels and many other books, lives in Norwich and is a regular feature at our festival. He is a distinguished novelist, critic, journalist and biographer – notably of Thackeray (1999) and Orwell: The Life, for which he won the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award, and a history of literary life in England since 1918, The Prose Factory (2016). His many novels include Derby Day (2011, longlisted for The Booker Prize), and Rock and Roll is Life (2018). His second biography on Orwell is imminent, and for the festival we’ll have his new publication, Critic At Large: Essays and Reviews 2010-2022, due in February from Shoestring Press.

Miranda Seymour is an English literary critic, novelist and biographer. She has written not only nine novels and a number of notable biographies, but also a memoir, My Father’s House, which won the Pen Ackerley Prize. Her biographies include Ottoline Morrell, Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, and In Byron’s Wake, about Byron’s wife and daughter. Her latest is an intimate and insightful biography, I Used To Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys.Best known for Wide Sargasso Sea, the Jean Rhys who was forgotten has been reinstated as one of the great writers of Modernism. Miranda is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Northampton and London.

The Weekend’s Events

Friday 10th March, 7.30pm

• Sally Emerson

• Rachel Hore

Chaired by Lachlan Mackinnon


Saturday 11th March, 11.00am

• Discussion: What persuades you, the reader, to buy a novel?

The writers, chaired by John Lucas


Saturday 11th March, 3.00pm

• Michelle Cahill

• Stephen May

Chaired by John Lucas


Saturday 11th March, 8.00pm

•  Carol Birch

•  Guinevere Glasfurd

Chaired by Rachel Hore


Sunday 12th March, 11.00am

• Jane Feaver

• DJ Taylor

Chaired by Lachlan Mackinnon


Sunday 12th March, 3.00pm

• Miranda Seymour, on her new biography, The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys. In conversation with DJ Taylor

The festival closes at 5pm after the raffle draw