Gillian Slovo at York

This term, The Dept of English and Related Literature at the University of York welcomes Gillian Slovo, distinguished South African born writer and President of English PEN, as its John Tilney writer in residence.

This is extraordinarily exciting for us at York to have such a key player amongst us and we urge members of YorkPEN studying English Literature to get involved with the workshops she is running. Seb


The information below has been written by Professor Hugh Haughton at the University. 


Gillian lives in London. She is a novelist whose thirteen published books include five detective novels, a family saga, Ties of Blood (1989), and a thriller, The Betrayal (1991). Her family memoir, Every Secret Thing (1997), which tells the story of her parents, the prominent anti apartheid activists, Joe Slovo and Ruth First, and the impact of their political engagement on their family, was an international best seller.  Her novel, Red Dust (2000), set around a fictional hearing of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, won the prix RFI Temoin du monde in France and was made into a feature film of the same name starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Ice Road (2004), her novel set in Leningrad of the 1930s, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Her most recently published novel An Honourable Man (2012) is set in nineteenth century Khartoum and London and tells the story of General Gordon’s disastrous expedition to stop a Jihad.

Gillian also has created verbatim plays. Her co-authored Guantanamo – Honour Bound to Defend Freedom (2005) played, among other places, in London, Stockholm, New York, and  Washington DC.  Her verbatim interviews with women politicians was part of  the 2010 Tricycle Theatre’s Women, Power and Politics season, and in 2011 her verbatim piece, The Riot (2011) played to sold-out audiences both in the Tricycle and in Tottenham’s Bernie Grant Arts Centre to where it transferred.  Gillian is also a   reviewer for several English newspapers and for the radio review programme Saturday Review, and she is a columnist whose main subject is her mother country, South Africa.  She is President of English PEN, a position she has held since 2010.

How to get involved!

Gillian will be taking two weekly workshops for undergraduates and graduates of the Department as well being available for individual consultations with students wanting to discuss their writing. The workshops will take place weekly throughout the term (with the exception of June 30th) at 11.15 and 2.15 on Thursdays, starting in week 3 on 9th May. Students will be given a chance to sign up in the first week of term. The individual consultations will also be on Thursdays and take place between 4.30 and 5.30 in her office, Derwent D/J/002.

Numbers will be limited to 16 per workshop, and students interested in taking part should sign up for one of the two slots by Doodle, following the link below:

Gillian will also be taking part in a Writers at York event, ‘PEN, Justice and the Creative Process’ with the crime writer Margie Orford, President of PEN South Africa, at 5.00 on May 23rd.

She will also be giving a reading at 6.15 on 5th June in the Bowland Lecture Theatre, followed by a reception. All members of the Department and University are welcome to attend.


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