The historic Royal Society of Literature (RSL) has announced 62 new fellows as part of an initiative to broaden representation in the field.
31 members of the incoming cohort are writers elected to fellowship through the RSL Open Initiative, a scheme created in 2020 to platform writers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in UK literary culture.
RSL president Bernadine Evaristo, author of the acclaimed Girl, Woman, Other, described the initiative as a ‘celebration of great diversity’ within the industry.
Notable writers elected to fellowship through the Open Initiative include Emma Dabiri, author of Don’t Touch My Hair (2019) and What White People Can Do Next (2021). She said: “What an honour to join the Royal Society of Literature with such esteemed company as T.S. Eliot and Zadie Smith, amongst many others, with whom it feels somewhat surreal to be included.”
Other writers selected through the initiative include the current Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho and psychiatrist Tade Thompson, known for his science-fiction work.
The remaining 31 fellows were selected through the direct nomination process. Incoming fellows selected through this traditional route include American author Erica Wagner.
On her admission to the RSL, she said: “I’m conscious not only of its heritage, but of all the great work it has done and continues to do for writers and readers – and for the culture at large. I feel fortunate to be able to be a part of such an inspiring institution.”
A full list of new RSL fellows can be found here.
Words by Aisha Sembhi
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