Royal Society of Literature admits 40 fellows under the age of 40
In the UK, the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) has appointed 40 new fellows as part of its 40 Under 40 initiative, which aims to ‘welcome a new generation of writers into the RSL, and to celebrate the talent and diversity of Britain’s younger writers’.
Of the fellows selected, 74% identified as female and 30% identified as being from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Miles Franklin winner Evie Wyld, who was born and is based in London but grew up in Australia, has been selected as a fellow, alongside writers including playwright Vinay Patel, poet Jay Bernard, novelist Sunjeev Sahota, poet Warsan Shire, and translator and Titled Axis founder Deborah Smith.
The Guardian reports that prior to the initiative, only three of the RSL’s 523 fellows were under 40, with none under 30 and the average age of fellows was 70.
Chair of the judging panel Kamila Shamsie described the selection process as ‘gratifying’, adding that the judges ‘didn’t have to worry very much about diversity of form—or any other kind of questions of representation—because the conversations around merit led us quite naturally to choose a wide variety of writers’. ‘All you need to do is put everyone in a room together and allow their work to speak for itself,’ she added.
Poet and critic Blake Morrison, who sat on the judging panel, acknowledged that the RSL has been ‘overwhelmingly white, male, metropolitan and middle-class’ for many years, and that the new initiative was an opportunity ‘to highlight the wide range of forms in which young writers are now working’.
Founded in 1820, the RSL is Britain’s national charity working ‘to excite literary talent and reward literary merit’. Apart from its fellowships, the RSL also conducts events, awards and schools outreach, as well as producing a magazine.
To read the full list of fellows, and learn more about the RSL, click here.
Category: International news