Annie Ernaux is a best-selling and prize-winning French writer who has been publishing literary texts based on her own life experience with the prestigious Parisian publisher Gallimard since 1974. She is translated into many languages and is the subject of a large body of academic writing. International conferences in Toronto, Arras, Cerisy, Cergy-Pontoise, Rouen, Liège and Amiens have been devoted to her work. Ernaux was born in Lillebonne, Normandy in 1940, and grew up in a working-class family and milieu in Yvetot, a nearby town, where her parents ran a café and grocer’s shop. She was educated in a private Catholic school and at the University of Rouen, eventually passing the Agrégation examination in French literature and becoming a secondary school teacher, and subsequently teaching French literature to trainee teachers through distance education. She retired in 2000 and since then has devoted all of her time to writing. She has written about her parents’ lives (La Place, 1984; Une femme, 1988), her experience of illegal abortion in the 1960s (Les Armoires vides, 1974; L’Événement, 2000), sexual passion, intimacy and loss (Passion simple, 1992; Se perdre, 2001; L’occupation, 2002 ; L’Usage de la photo with Marc Marie, 2005). The experience of changing class through education is a recurring theme in Ernaux’s writing, and is foregrounded in her first novel, Les Armoires vides, and in the ‘autosociobiography’ La Honte, (1997). Les Années (2008) is often considered to be her magnum opus, and it interweaves her personal history, told through descriptions of photographs and family meals with the social, political and cultural history of France, 1940-2007. A selection of Ernaux’s works and translations into English are listed in ‘Further Reading’.
Clare Best’s writing crosses two abiding interests – landscape and body. Her first full collection of poetry, Excisions, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize 2012. She has performed her poem cycle Self-portrait without Breasts across the UK and Ireland, and in the USA and Canada. Other poetry publications include Treasure Ground, Breastless, CELL and Springlines. Her prose memoir, The Missing List, was a finalist in the Mslexia Memoir Competition 2015. Clare has been a bookbinder, a bookseller and an editor and now teaches Creative Writing at university level. She has held writing residencies in a range of settings including HMP Shepton Mallet, Woodlands Organic Farm on the Lincolnshire Fens and the University of Brighton. www.clarebest.co.uk
Katherine Collins is a writer and academic. She is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Sociology at Goldsmiths, where she is working with life-writing methods to study the impact of Brexit on the lives of British expats. In 2016 she was elected Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing; and in 2017 was chosen to be an Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Scholar, studying British expatriate communities in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published ethnographic poetry and short stories; her current project is Ethel: a life in pieces, a book of stories about the lives of the women in her family.
Jenni Cresswell’s love affair with textiles began when she learned the basics from her female relatives. Despite pursuing a degree in Environmental Science and earning a living as a project manager, Jenni remained fascinated by textiles, eventually renting a studio space and exploring her art. More recently, she undertook an MA in Arts and Design by Independent Project at the University of Brighton, where she first encountered the power of using clothing as a medium to express her personal stories. Jenni is currently exploring how dresses can provide beautiful and evocative canvases for her narrative sagas. She can regularly be found prowling Brighton charity shops for inspiration.
Louise Kenward is a visual artist based in East Sussex, working with, and in liminal spaces. Often working in disused, transitional and temporary places, Louise is interested in the overlaps between internal and external landscapes. Her writing is a way of drawing together threads of personal narrative, visual art and her previous psychology and psychotherapy practice. In 2017 Louise completed the New Writing South creative writing programme in Brighton. Louise is currently working on a number of projects and can be found on Twitter @bexhill2bexhill. Previous projects can be found at www.louisekenward.com and www.bexhilltobexhill.com. Louise completed her Foundation Degree in Fine Art at Brighton University in 2009 and an MA in Fine Art at London Metropolitan University in 2011.
Tom Ottway is a sound artist doing a PhD in Creative and Critical Practice in the School of Media, Film & Music at the University of Sussex, researching the notion of ‘home’ (specifically Brighton) through various media and senses, especially sound. This encompasses sonic art, sound studies, music, geography, urban studies and much more. He is interested in using technology to trigger sound/audio, and is considering developing a video game to locate and explore oral testimony/history in specific spaces.
Nirmal Puwar is Reader in the Sociology Department of Goldsmith’s College, University of London, where she has lectured for over ten years. She has authored Space Invaders: race, gender and bodies out of place (2004). The concept of Space Invaders has been developed and discussed in a number of institutional sectors. Puwar has co-edited 17 Collections, including: Post-colonial Bourdieu; Orientalism and Fashion; Intimacy in Research; Live Methods and, South Asian Women in the Diaspora. A number of her writings have been translated into different languages. She was Co-Director of the Methods Lab for over ten years, undertaking projects to re-think, stretch and connect the very walls of the academy beyond the academy. She takes a critical historical approach to ‘public engagement’ and has worked collaboratively using creative methods.
Tanya Shadrick is a writer and former hospice lifestory scribe whose Wild Patience scrolls — a mile of writing beside the UK’s oldest outdoor pool — have gained international attention, earning her an inaugural year residency at the Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Switzerland. Her work has been featured in Jenny Landreth’s new history of women and swimming Swell: A Waterbiography (Bloomsbury, 2017) as well as by BBC News and in magazines. She is currently recording a series of interviews with the sculptor David Nash on his life and work in this fortieth year anniversary of the iconic Ash Dome. Tanya is also editor of the Outdoor Swimming Society recommended anthology Watermarks: Writing by Lido Lovers & Wild Swimmers (Frogmore Press, 2017).
Lyn Thomas is a writer and Professor Emerita of Cultural Studies at Sussex University and London Metropolitan University. She has published a memoir: Clothes Pegs: A Woman’s Life in 30 Outfits at http://www.clothespegs.net/, and she is the author of two books and several articles and chapters on contemporary French writer Annie Ernaux. She has also published on a range of topics in Cultural Studies, including feminist fan cultures, The Archers, lifestyle television, religion and media, ‘suspect communities’ and working-class whiteness.