Bristol Women’s Literature Festival

Guest blogger Sian Norris invites you to attend the first ever Bristol Women’s Literature Festival.


Join Bidisha, Stella Duffy, Helen Dunmore, Selma Dabbagh, Professor Joan Adim-Addo and more for the first ever Bristol Women’s Literature Festival.

In just a couple of weeks from now, some of the UK’s most celebrated writers and academics will be arriving in Bristol to celebrate their love of books with you.

The first ever Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to celebrate the work of women writers working today and throughout history. It brings together the diverse and exciting talent of women writers, academics and activists to showcase our fantastic literary heritage.

Although women have always written and always read, the UK literature scene continues to be very male dominated. Research conducted by UK Feminista in 2010 found that only 38% of the writers nominated for the Booker were women, and, despite women’s success in the prize this year, by 2010, 70% of the winners of the Costa Novel of the Year have been men. A survey by For Books’ Sake revealed that at Manchester Literature festival, only 20 out of 74 speakers were women, whilst at the Latitude Literary Area, women made up 15 of 53 performers.

I decided it wasn’t enough to be frustrated at the continued marginalisation of women writers in our cultural scene. I needed to do something about it. And so I decided it was time to put on a festival that celebrated two of my favourite things – literature and women’s rights. The response I have had to the event has been phenomenal. Everyone wants to be part of this festival. This is a real and vital opportunity to talk about women’s writing and women’s role in shaping and influencing our culture – both historically and in the present. It really is one of the most exciting projects I have been involved in and I am so proud to see it taking shape and happening. What’s more, I’m so thrilled to be able to share such a fantastic line-up of inspiring and interesting women!

Chaired by Bidisha, the programme includes TV screenwriter Emilia di Girolamo whose suspenseful and chilling crime dramas include Law and Order UK and The Poison Tree keep viewers at the edge of their seats. Playwright, novelist and twice winner of Stonewall Writer of the Year Stella Duffy, Orange-prize winning writer Helen Dunmore, first time novelist Beatrice Hitchman and novelist and short story writer Selma Dabbagh will also join the event. Taking us through the fascinating and often hidden history of women’s writing will be celebrated academics Professor Helen Taylor, Professor Joan Adim-Addo, Doctor Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Dr Charlotte Crofts and the historian Kate Williams. The festival closes with a discussion on feminist publishing, featuring co-author of Reclaiming the F Word, Kristin Aune, writer and publisher Debi Withers and blogger and writer Josephine Tsui.

These women are, without doubt, some of the most influential and vibrant writers working today. I know that I can’t wait to hear them talk about their work and their experiences as writers.

The festival is supported by Watershed, Foyles and The Bristol Festival of Ideas. You can buy tickets via the Watershed website or call the Watershed on 0117 927 5100.

For more information about the festival, visit our website:

Biog: Sian Norris is a feminist writer and activist. She is the co-ordinator of the Bristol Feminist Network. Her first novel, Greta and Boris: a daring rescue is published by Our Street Books on 29 March 2013 and can be pre-ordered here.