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.
Mikey Cuddihy was sent to England after the death of both her parents when she was nine. She attended Summerhill, a small progressive school in Suffolk. Later, she studied at Edinburgh College of Art, before moving to London in 1971 to study painting at Central School of Art, and then Chelsea College of Art for my MA. In the late 70’s she moved to East London where she co-founded The Beck Road Arts Trust with Helen Chadwick, Pawel Pawlikowski, Maureen Paley, & Genesis P Orridge among others. In 2006, three of her stories were included in a Serpent’s Tail anthology of short fiction by artists, “The Alpine Fantasy of Victor B & Other Stories.” She moved from East London to East Sussex in 2011. Her memoir, “A Conversation about Happiness’ was published with Atlantic Books in 2014 and has been optioned by Film4. Currently she is writing an epistolary memoir, set mostly in East London in the 1980’s. http://mikeycuddihy.co.uk/biography.html
Shelagh Doonan has come to life writing and poetry in the last five years, particularly through courses at Morley College, City Lit and the Arvon Foundation. She has studied marine biology (symbiosis), and has worked for forty years in learning and development in the public and voluntary sectors, particularly in inter-agency settings, where the key challenge is learning across organisational boundaries. Some of Shelagh’s poems are published in Morley Poets: A First Anthology (2018), and Devotions, keepsakes and talismans: Morley poets respond to the Sara Baume exhibition (2018).
Rosy Fordham was born, lives and works in London. She is a part time teacher, improviser and actor.
Louise Kenward is a visual artist, psychologist and writer based in the UK. Since moving to the south coast, much of her work connects with the sea. 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 bringing together threads of personal narrative, visual art and psychotherapy practice. With an interest in the ‘betwixt and between’, her work explores the physical spaces we inhabit and the mental spaces we dwell in. For more information see www.louisekenward.com and Twitter @LouiseKenward
Olga Lidia Saavedra Montes de Oca has a PhD in Creative and Critical Practice, University of Sussex and an MA in Photography and Urban Culture from Goldsmiths University. Her work addresses intimate life-worlds, in relation to wider social, political, national and global changes. Using photography in the context of oral history, she has worked on topics ranging from perspectives on everyday life in societies; religion, gender, sexuality, youth and oral history in Cuba. She has co-edited the first issue of Oral History Journal focused on Cuba, (vol. 45: 2; 2017). She has contributed to The Leverhulme Trust Newsletter (August 2009), Oral History Journal. ( Spring 2012 vol. 40. No.1; photography contribution), the Basque Children Of ’37 Association UK, Photoworks Annual Issue 24 and the research project Memories of the Cuban Revolution (University of Southampton).
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.
Jeremy Page has edited the bi-annual literary journal The Frogmore Papers since 1983. He is the author of several collections of poems, most recently Closing Time (Pindrop, 2014) and Stepping Back: Resubmission for the Ordinary Level Examination in Psychogeography (Frogmore Press, 2016). In 2015 he co-edited an anthology of life writing, True Tales from the Old Hill. His novella, London Calling was published by Cultured Llama in 2018. He lives in Lewes and is Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Sussex.
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.
Ruth Rosengarten is a writer and artist. She was born in Israel and lived in South Africa and Portugal before settling in England. She has a Fine Arts Degree from Wits in Johannesburg and a PhD in art history from the Courtauld Institute in London. She draws, works with photographs, make collages and recently begun learning to make books. She has published broadly as an art historian, but only recently turned to life writing and auto-criticism. She is working on a project of short, autobiographical essays exploring the workings of time through an examination of objects charged with narrative and mnemonic capability.
Andrea Samuelson’s fiction and poetry has been published in literary magazines including Mslexia and the Rialto. She won the Peterloo Prize in 2006. After completing a Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Sussex University she published Cradle Song, which focused on the links between her own post natal depression and her great-grandmother’s incarceration in an asylum. Her first novel Scordatura, based on the lives of foundlings at the Pieta in Venice, is with an agent and she is working on her second, about the Paris Commune. She teaches Creative Writing at Bexhill College.
Christina Sanders has had short stories and flash fiction published in literary and online magazines including: The Bath Short Story Anthology, Litro, Rattle Tales Anthology, TFM magazine, Litro, Best Small Fictions, Toasted Cheese. QWF, Peninsular. In 2016, she won the Aesthetica creative writing award. ‘We Begin In So Many Ways’ is an extract from Writing The Map, a project which explores the relationship between walking, landscape, identity and writing. The project is funded by the Arts Council England. https://writethemap.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/writing-the-map/
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).
Tess Sheridan Adams was born by the sea in Rathmullan – a little crumb fallen from Heaven – in County Donegal, Ireland. Currently, she lives in Surrey, UK, where she works as a Psychotherapist. Any spare time she gets, she can be found in her cosy converted pigsty, weaving words onto ‘parchment’. She has been writing short stories and stanzas since 2010, and has presented her own show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In August 2019, she is planning to be there again. Her current project is a life writing endeavour: autobiographical fragments woven together to create a narrative of Becoming.
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.
Miranda Waugh is a writer, designer and story teller. She has worked primarily helping organisations to tell their stories, but is starting to work with individuals and women who struggle to be heard, helping them to unlock and tell their own stories. She has a particular fascination with memory and its role in forming identity, and with the connection between landscape and social history. Since earning a degree in Theatre Design from Wimbledon School of Art, Miranda has also studied Ecology and Conservation at Birkbeck College and Film Making at the London Film School.
Caroline Wright has been disabled by M.E. for more than half of her life. She uses creativity to affirm her sense of self in the face of circumstances which often feel impossible. In 2016 Caroline started to publish a blog exploring her experience of living with chronic illness. This project at last enabled her to establish what kind of writer she is: part life writer, part amateur philosopher. Alongside writing, Caroline has always drawn and painted; many of her blog posts include her own drawings. She is passionate about raising awareness of M.E. Her dream is to have a regular column. Caroline’s blog is at https://caraswrong.com/