Raymond Antrobus was born in Hackney, London to an English mother and Jamaican father. He is the author of Shapes & Disfigurements, To Sweeten Bitter and The Perseverance. In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre. His poetry has appeared on BBC 2, BBC Radio 4, The Big Issue, The Jamaica Gleaner, The Guardian and at TedxEastEnd. In 2019 his poem, Jamaican British was added to the GCSE syllabus.
Other accolades include the Ted Hughes award, PBS Winter Choice, Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year award and The Guardian Poetry Book Of The Year 2018, as well as a shortlist for the Griffin Prize and Forward Prize. In 2018 he was awarded The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize (judged by Ocean Vuong) for his poem Sound Machine.
He received fellowships from Cave Canem, Complete Works 3 and Jerwood Compton. He is also one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word education from Goldsmiths University.
Raymond is a founding member of Chill Pill and Keats House Poets Forum and ambassador for The Poetry School.
His poems have been published in POETRY, Poetry Review, News Statesman, The Deaf Poets Society as well as in anthologies from Bloodaxe, Peepal Tree Press and Nine Arches.
Raymond has read and performed his poetry at festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude, BOCAS and universities such as Oxford, Goldsmiths and Warwick. He has won numerous Slams and was Farrago International Slam Champion 2010, The Canterbury Slam 2013 and joint winner at the Open Calabash Slam 2016.
Image: Suki Dhanda
Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist.
Her first novel, The Island, held the number one slot in the Sunday Times paperback charts for eight consecutive weeks and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Victoria was the Newcomer of the Year at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007 and won the Richard & Judy Summer Read competition.Victoria acted as script consultant on the 26-part adaptation of The Island in Greece, which achieved record ratings for Greek television.
Her second novel, The Return, set against the tempestuous backdrop of the Spanish Civil war was also a Number One bestseller. She returned to Greece for her third novel, The Thread, taking as her backdrop the troubled history of the city of Thessaloniki in a story that spans almost a century, beginning with the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917. Her short story collection, The Last Dance and other Stories was widely acclaimed.
In 2014, she published The Sunrise, a turbulent family saga set in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion of 1974 which would leave the glamorous resort town of Famagusta a ruin ringed by barbed wire for decades to come.
Her next novel, Those Who Are Loved, was published in May 2019.
Her latest novel, One August Night is a sequel to The Island. Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages.
Victoria was granted Honorary Greek Citizenship by the President of Greece in 2020.
Image: Bill Waters
Robert McCrum, who was born and educated in Cambridge, is a writer and editor whose most recent book, Every Third Thought: On Life, Death and the Endgame, was published to great acclaim in 2017 when it was also serialised on BBC Radio 4.
From 1980 to 1996, McCrum was editor-in-chief of Faber & Faber, where he published Kazuo Ishiguro, Harold Pinter, Milan Kundera, Peter Carey, Danilo Kis, Paul Auster, Marilynne Robinson, Lorrie Moore, Adam Phillips, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jayne Anne Phillips, Orhan Pamuk, Adam Mars-Jones, and Hanif Kureishi among many others. At the same time, he wrote six novels and co-authored the BBC TV series, The Story of English, for which he was awarded an Emmy, and thePeabody Prize in 1987.
In July 1995, McCrum suffered a serious stroke, a personal crisis he described in My Year Off, a book now regarded as an essential study in the understanding of the condition.
He was Literary Editor of the Observer from 1996 to 2010, and published his award-winning biography P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in 2004. Globish (2010) was an international bestseller. My Year Off (1998) is now in its third edition as a Picador Classic.
McCrum was appointed Associate Editor of the Observer in 2008. He left the Guardian Media Group in January 2018 to pursue his own literary interests. His latest book Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption was published in September 2020 by Picador/Macmillan.
Image: Karen Robinson