Nicole Krauss has been hailed by the New York Times as 'one of America’s most important novelists'. She is the author of the international bestsellers, Great House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, and was shortlisted for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. In 2007, she was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and in 2010 she was chosen by the New Yorker for their 'Twenty Under Forty' list. Her fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages.
Photo credit: Goni Riskin
Rebecca Abrams was born in Cambridge in 1963. Her first book, When Parents Die, was shortlisted for the MIND award and has since become a highly respected classic in its field. Her most recent book, Three Shoes, One Sock and No Hairbrush, was a UK best-seller. Awarded an Amnesty Prize for her reportage on children in war, Rebecca is a regular contributor to the Guardian and a former columnist for the Daily Telegraph. Touching Distance is her first novel.
Henry Marsh was one of Britain’s foremost brain surgeons, and worked as Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London for thirty years. Since retiring from full-time work in the NHS, he has continued to operate and lecture abroad, in Nepal, Albania and Ukraine. His memoir Do no harm, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. Winner of the JR Ackerley Prize and the South Bank Award for Literature, it was also shortlisted for the Costa, Wellcome, and Guardian First Book awards, and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He has been the subject of two award-winning documentary films, Your Life In Their Hands and The English Surgeon. He was made a CBE in 2010.
Erica Wagner was born in New York City. She is the author of Gravity: Stories, Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters and Seizure, a novel; she is the editor of First Light: A Celebration of Alan Garner. Chief Engineer, her biography of Washington Roebling, the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge, has just been published by Bloomsbury. Twice a judge of the Man Booker Prize, she was literary editor of The Times for 17 years and is now contributing literary editor for Harper’s Bazaar, a contributing writer for the New Statesman, as well as writing for the Financial Times, the Economist and the New York Times. She was the recipient of the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award in 2014, and she is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. She lives in London.
Professor Steve Westaby is a world famous heart surgeon who is renowned for being the first surgeon in history to fit a patient with a new type of artificial heart, claiming a place in medical history. During his 35 year career as a surgeon he worked at several of the UK’s top hospitals and performed over 11,000 heart operations. He won the Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement (2004). In 2004 Steve Westaby was featured in the BBC documentary Your Life in Their Hands, alongside Henry Marsh - a longrunning series on the subject of surgery. He has recently retired from the paediatric cardiac unit at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Fragile Lives, his Sunday Timesbestselling memoir, was published earlier this year.
Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. Her previous books - Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore and The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the search for the good life - were published to great critical acclaim and worldwide success.
Bettany is a Research Fellow of King's College London, a Tutor at Cambridge University’s Institute for Continuing Education and a Visiting Professor of History at the New College of the Humanities and has been honoured with numerous awards including the prestigious Norton Medlicott Medal for History.
Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a cultural commentator, a political scientist and an inspirational public speaker.
Shafak is an activist on women’s rights, minority rights and freedom of speech. With a multidisciplinary background (international relations, gender and women’s studies (Masters) and political philosophy (PhD)) she writes extensively about a range of issues including global and cultural politics, the future of Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, secularism and faith and doubt. She regularly contributes to world publications including The Financial Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and La Repubblica. She is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations).
She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Her books have been translated into 47 languages and she has been awarded the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. Her latest novel Three Daughters of Eve was published by Penguin in February 2017. Shafak is also active on social media with an international twitter following. She can be found at: www.elifshafak.com and @Elif_Safak
Allie Esiri, described by Tatler as a ‘poetry powerhouse’, is a former English stage, film and TV actress. Her bestselling anthology A Poem for Every Night of the Year won Independent Bookshop Week's Book of the Year award. An accomplished host of events, including the Cheltenham Literary Festival, the Sunday Times Education Festival, and Hay Festival, this November, Esiri will once again host a Platform event at the National Theatre, following the sell-out success of the 2016 event for an audience of over 1000 people.
Credited with bringing poetry in to the digital age, her bestselling apps iF Poems and The Love Book feature readings with actors including Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hiddleston, Damian Lewis, Bill Nighy and Emma Watson and have been selected by Apple as Best Education App and Best New App. Esiri read Modern and Medieval languages at Cambridge University and now lives in London with her husband and three children.
Actor and writer Sanjeev Bhaskar gained notoriety as creator and performer of the BBC hit series GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME. His film roles have included IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE (Gurinder Chadha), LONDON BOULEVARD (William Monahan) and THE ZERO THEORUM (Terry Gilliam).
Sanjeev led the cast in the BAFTA award-winning television series INDIAN DOCTOR which garnered record ratings and critical acclaim. He has appeared in the West End as King Arthur in Eric Idle’s SPAMALOT and in 2015 he played the role of Alawi in DINNER WITH SADDAM at the Menier Chocolate Factory. He also wrote and starred in THE KUMARS AT NO. 42 which had global success winning two Emmys, a BAFTA nomination, a British Comedy Award and the Bronze Rose at Montreaux. More recently, he reprised his role as DS Sunny Khan in the second series of ITV’s award-winning drama UNFORGOTTEN and will soon be seen in PADDINGTON 2.
Sanjeev was awarded an OBE in 2006.
Philippe Sands QC is Professor of Law at University College London and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers. He appears before many international courts and tribunals, including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, and sits as an arbitrator at ICSID, the PCA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He is the author of Lawless World (2005) and Torture Team (2008) and several academic books on international law, and contributes to the New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, the Financial Times and The Guardian.
His new book is East West Street: On the Origins of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide (Alfred Knopf/Weidenfeld & Nicolson), winner of the 2016 Baillie Gifford (Samuel Johnson) Prize and the 2017 British Book Awards Non-Fiction Book of the Year. The book comes with a BBC Storyville film, My Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did
He is a vice president of the Hay Festival and a member of the board of English PEN.
Victor Mallet is the Financial Times’ South Asia Bureau Chief, based in New Delhi. Prior to this role he spent four years as Madrid Bureau Chief, and before that he was the Editor of the FT’s Asia edition. Mr Mallet joined the FT in 1986 and has had a variety of overseas roles, including Southern African Correspondent from 1998 to 2001, South-East Asia Correspondent from 1992 to 1994, and Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1988. Mr Mallet has also been Deputy Features Editor, Middle East Correspondent, Paris Correspondent and Chief Asia Correspondent. Before joining the Financial Times, Mr Mallet was a correspondent for Reuters in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Paris. He is the author of The Trouble with Tigers: the Rise and Fall of South-East Asia, which was published in 1999. He received the Society of Publishers in Asia’s award for opinion writing in 2005 and 2006. Mr Mallet is a graduate of Oxford University and holds a degree in English.
Neel Mukherjee's first novel, A Life Apart (2010), won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for best fiction. His second novel, The Lives of Others (2014), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Costa best novel award, and won the Encore Prize. His third novel, A State of Freedom (2017), is out now from Chatto & Windus.
Dominic Dromgoole was the Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre in London from 2005 to 2016. He is the author of The Full Room: An A-Z of Contemporary Playwriting and of Will and Me: How Shakespeare Took Over My Life, which won the inaugural Sheridan Morley award. Dominic has recently launched a new film company, Open Palm Films and has made his first feature Making Noise Quietly. His theatre company with Nica Burns of Nimax, Classic Spring, will present a series of proscenium classics in the West End, starting with a season of Oscar Wilde plays from Autumn 2017.
James Lamont is the Financial Times’ managing editor, appointed in April 2012. Lamont has global responsibility for staffing and strategic planning for the FT’s editorial department, and became a member of the FT executive board in January 2016.
Before relocating to London, Lamont spent four years as the FT’s South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi. He spent the previous four years as world news editor in London and joined the FT in 2001 as Southern Africa bureau chief.
Before joining the Financial Times, Lamont was editor of Business Report, South Africa's largest financial daily and a title then owned by Dublin-based Independent News & Media. He was deputy editor of the Middle East Times in Cairo. He also reported on oil and gas in the region for the Opec news agency.
Lamont started his career in journalism writing for a UK-based consumer magazine. He completed his first degree at the University of York in 1990 and did a post graduate course in southern Africa studies.