First Story 5×15

Friday 28th September 2012

Lady Margaret Hall, Norham Gardens, Oxford, OX2 6QA

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford was the venue for a very special literary evening. 5 writers moved, inspired, and generally wowed their audience by speaking on a subject of their choice for 15 minutes. The starry line-up included Iain Banks, John O’Farrell, Esther Freud, Ross Raisin and Salena Godden, and were introduced by William Fiennes. Thank you to everyone involved for attending and raising funds for the charity!

Iain Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. He has continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M. Banks). He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation: The Guardian has called him “the standard by which the rest of SF is judged”. William Gibson, the New York Times-bestselling author of Spook Country describes Banks as a “phenomenon”.

John O’Farrell’s new novel The Man Who Forgot His Wife is published in paperback in October. He has previously written three best-selling novels; The Best a Man Can Get, This Is Your Life and May Contain Nuts. His non-fiction includes the political memoir Things Can Only Get Better and An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and three collections of his popular Guardian column. As an award-winning comedy scriptwriter his name flashed passed the end of such productions as Spitting Image, Murder Most Horrid, Chicken Run and a few shows he’d rather forget. He is the founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit and can occasionally be spotted on such TV shows as Grumpy Old Men, The Review Show and Have I Got News For You.

Esther Freud was born in London in 1963. She trained as an actress before writing her first novel, Hideous Kinky, which was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and made into a feature film starring Kate Winslet. Her other novels include The Sea HouseSummer at GaglowThe WildPeerless Flats and most recently, Love Falls. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages.



Salena Godden’s short stories, stage and page poetry have been published in anthologies such as Penguin’s IC3 and Canongate’s Fire People. As a performance poet she has toured extensively and read alongside writers such as Irvine Welsh and Will Self.  She has hosted a number of radio and television programmes and been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Bespoken Word and Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. Salena writes and performs in nu-ska duo SaltPeter and is a co-founder of the The Book Club Boutique.

Ross Raisin was born in Keighley in Yorkshire, and after attending Bradford Grammar School he studied English at King’s College London, which was followed by a postgraduate degree in creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Raisin’s debut novel God’s Own Country was published in 2008. It was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and won a Betty Trask Award. Writing in The Guardian Justine Jordan described the novel as “an absorbing read”, which marked Raisin out as “a young writer to watch”. In April 2009 the book won Raisin the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.


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