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University of Exeter authors honoured by Royal Society of Literature

University of Exeter authors honoured by Royal Society of Literature

Two University of Exeter authors have been named by the prestigious Royal Society of Literature as being among the best young writers in the UK.

Daisy Hay and Kei Miller have been elected fellows of the RSL, as part of an initiative to recognise the achievements of a new generation of authors. The 40 new fellows - announced by the Duchess of Cornwall - are all under the age of 40. They represent the United Kingdom’s diverse literary heritage and also the best in contemporary English language writing in Britain.

Dr Hay won the 2016 Somerset Maugham Award for her book Mr & Mrs Disraeli – A Strange Romance, which told the tale of the unusual romance between the politician Benjamin Disraeli and his wife. In 2016 she was one of recipients of the Philip Leverhulme Prizes, which recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising. Dr Hay is using this award to write a major cultural history of the emergence of English Romanticism. Dr Hay’s first book, Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives, published in 2010, was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy and was also highly commended by the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Biographers’ Club First Biography Prize.

Dr Hay said: “I am hugely honoured to accept the fellowship of the RSL. It is a privilege to join such an august institution, and to sign my name in a Roll Book containing the names of so many of my own literary heroines and heroes. I am especially proud to be joining the RSL as it diversifies its fellowship, and to be part of such an exciting new generation of fellows.”

Professor Miller is an essayist, poet and novelist. He has been shortlisted for numerous prizes including the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His novel, Augustown, was published in 2016 to wide acclaim, being described as ‘truly panoramic’ by the Sunday Telegraph and ‘Richly nuanced and empathetic…a vivid modern fable’ by the Guardian. The novel was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Green Carnation Prize. It won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

The new fellows were chosen by a panel of writers: Tahmima Anam, Lisa Appignanesi, Helen Edmundson, Bernardine Evaristo, Lavinia Greenlaw, Alexandra Harris, David Hare, Blake Morrison, Daljit Nagra, Ali Smith and Sarah Waters. The panel was chaired by Kamila Shamsie. Almost three quarters of the new fellows are female, and a third are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Lisa Appignanesi, Chair of the RSL Council said: “In search of excellence and having taken recommendations from the literature world, our multi-faceted and brilliant selection panel of Fellows has come up with a striking array of exceptional talent. Here are a cohort of young writers from a wide variety of backgrounds. They bestride a variety of literary forms and their work stretches the limits of convention. We know these young writers will invigorate the Society’s ranks as it approaches its 200th birthday. We also know they will infuse society as a whole with their flair and brio, their literary artistry and the passion of their ideas.”

Date: 28 June 2018

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