Pauline McLynne is an Irish author and actor best known for her roles as Mrs Doyle in the sitcom Father Ted, Libby Croker in the comedy-drama Shameless, and Yvonne Cotton in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. She has written ten novels, including two series featuring the characters Leo Street and Jenny Q (the latter for younger readers), and has contributed short stories to many charity collections including Moments (in aid of Tsunami victims) Magic (in aid of One Parent Families) and Girl’s Night In (for Warchild). She also wrote the play Angels for the National Theatre of Great Britain's Connections series as well as two episodes of the children’s tv series Drop Dead Weird 2.
Joanna Scanlan is a BAFTA-nominated actress and screenwriter. Previously a drama university lecturer, she later worked for the Arts Council of Great Britain, during which she began writing scripts in her spare time. Having made her name in The Thick of It, she is perhaps best known for her critically acclaimed dark satirical NHS drama Getting On. Joanna has written for the children’s series Byker Grove and My Parents are Aliens and has appeared in films such as The Invisible Woman and Bridget Jones’ Baby.
Laura Steven is an author, journalist and screenwriter from the northernmost town in England. She has an MA in Creative Writing and works at a non-profit organisation supporting women in the creative arts. Her TV pilot, Clickbait, was a finalist in British Comedy's 2016 Sitcom Mission. She won the inaugural CWIP Published Prize in 2019 with The Exact Opposite Okay. Izzy O’Neill is now back in the hilarious sequel to The Exact Opposite of Okay in A Girl Called Shameless published by Electric Monkey.
Lolly Adefope is an award-winning character comedian and one of the most exciting comedy actors to emerge from the UK in recent years. Her solo, multi-character live shows have garnered 5-star reviews and led to sellout runs at both the Edinburgh Festival and London’s West End. Lolly’s extensive broadcast credits include starring in Shrill (Hulu), Miracle Workers (TBS), Ghosts (BBC), Loaded (Channel 4/AMC) Damned (Channel 4), and Taskmaster (Dave Channel). Last year, Lolly wrote and starred in her own short Sorry for the BBC, which was broadcast to great acclaim. She is currently developing her own broadcast and literary projects.
Yomi Adegoke is the co-author of Slay In Your Lane, the critically acclaimed bestselling guide to life for black women and a multi-award winning journalist and author. She has worked at ITN, Channel 4 News and has freelanced for Vogue, Elle, and the Independent amongst others. She is currently the women’s columnist at The Guardian and has a monthly column at the iPaper.
GRACE CAMPBELL is a comedian, writer, director & activist. Grace is currently taking her debut stand up show ‘Why I’m Never Going Into Politics’ on tour around the country. Grace co-founded the feminist collective the Pink Protest, and she is currently writing a short book called The Future of Men.
RACHAEL BALL started cartooning in 1988, for Manchester’s 'City Life' and 90’s cult comic ‘Deadline.’ Her first graphic novel The Inflatable Woman (Bloomsbury) was one of The Guardian's Best Graphic novels 2015 and was shortlisted for the British Book Design Awards 2016. Her second graphic novel, Wolf (Selfmadehero, 2018), was described by the TLS as ‘A poignant and elegiac graphic novel which sensitively captures a child’s eye view of the world.’ She taught art in secondary schools for 16 yearsand now teaches workshops in creating graphic novels and Children’s Picture Books. She has taught masterclasses and workshops at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Anglia Ruskin University, Nottingham University, The Cartoon Museum, Senate House, UCL, V&A, National Portrait Gallery, LDC residencies and teaches regular workshops at the House of Illustration and The Art Academy. She is one of the London coordinators for LDComics, (a monthly meetup comic forum that supports female cartoonists.)
JEN BRISTER is a rising star of the British comedy scene, having recently appeared on BBC Two’s Live At The Apollo, Stand Up at BBC Wales, The Now Show and The News Quiz (BBC R4). She has received critical acclaim for her latest Edinburgh Fringe show, Meaningless which is currently on its second successful run at The Soho Theatre and selling out its UK tour dates up and down the country. Jen has taken several extremely well received solo shows up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she started as part of the prestigious show, The Comedy Zone at the Pleasance. Jen has also taken solo shows to the Adelaide & Melbourne Comedy Festivals. Jen has previously worked at BBC 6 Music where she presented a number of different shows including the weekend overnights, the weekend breakfast show and stand ins for Lauren Laverne, Liz Kershaw and Jon Holmes. Jen also starred in Russell Brand & Trevor Lock’s Cloud Cuckoo Land for BBC Radio 2. Jen has performed stand up in clubs all over the country (literally) as well as sketch comedy in numerous sketch groups including the Loose Connection.
Marian Keyes - CHAIR
Marian Keyes has written 13 novels, translated into 36 languages, selling 40 million copies. She was born in Limerick in 1963 and began writing in 1993. Her first novel, Watermelon, was published in Ireland in 1995 where it was an immediate success. Twelve novels and four non-fiction books have followed, most recently, The Break in 2017. The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but are always written with compassion, humour and hope.
Fanny Blake - CHAIR
Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer. She has written various non-fiction titles, acted as a ghost writer for a number of celebrities, and has written eight novels, the latest of which, A Summer Reunion, came out in 2019. She has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa First Novel Award, the Desmond Elliott Award, the British Book Awards and she was a judge on the inaugural CWIP Unpublished Novel Award.
KIRSTY EYRE grew up on the South Yorkshire/Derbyshire border idolising Victoria Wood, Jo Brand and pretty much the entire judging panel for CWIP. Having studied languages at Nottingham Trent University, her love for theatre led her to write several comedy stage-plays which received favourable reviews at the Edinburgh fringe and performances across London and Brighton. Shortlisted for BBC Sharps, her writing credits also include television screen-plays and satirical ‘school mums’ poems. Her recent influences are Maria Semple, Caitlin Moran and Dolly Alderton. Cow Girl, her debut novel, won the CWIP Unpublished Prize in 2019 and is published by HarperCollins in June 2020. Kirsty lives in South East London with her partner and two children.
Janet Ellis - Chair
Actress, presenter and author Janet Ellis trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Best known for presenting Blue Peter, she has starred in numerous radio and TV programmes and in 2018 appeared at the Edinburgh Festival. In 2016 Janet was awarded an MBE for services to charities and theatre. A graduate of the Curtis Brown creative writing course, her debut novel, The Butcher's Hook, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her latest book How It Was is out in paperback this April, published by Two Roads.
DR NICOLA STREETEN is speaker, writer, drawer, teacher of comics and organiser of comics events. She has worked nationally and internationally in a wide range of contexts and with a diverse variety of people. Her graphic memoir Billy, Me & You (2011, Myriad Editions) is about her process of bereavement following the death of her child. Nicola directs LDComics (Est. 2009 as Laydeez do Comics) the international women-led comics forum open to all. Her AHRC funded doctoral research informed her co-editing of The Inking Woman (2018, Myriad Editions) an illustrated history of women’s cartooning in Britain for a general reader. This is complemented by her publication UK Feminist Cartoons and Comics: A Critical Survey (2020 Palgrave Macmillan).
Emma Kennedy is a best-selling author who has written twelve books and a screenwriter who has worked on multiple TV projects including The Kennedys, Dangermouse, Tracey Beaker, Waffle the Wonderdog and Strange Hill High. She has performed in many popular and award-winning comedies including The Smoking Room, People Like Us, Miranda, Goodness Gracious Me, Not Going Out, This Morning with Richard Not Judy and This is Jinsy. She won Celebrity MasterChef in 2012.
Kate Bradley is a senior commissioning editor at HarperCollins. She publishes fiction aimed at women and has worked on everything from Romance and Historical Fiction to partnerships with heritage brands such as Coronation Street and Quality Street. With thirty years in the bookselling and publishing industry, Kate is passionate about books and the talented people who write them.
Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest and gained British citizenship. Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize in 2016. She is Head of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University.
HANNAH BERRY is an award-winning graphic novelist, comics creator, writer, illustrator, editorial gun- for-hire and UK Comics Laureate 2019-21. In 2018 she was inducted as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and became the slightly grander ‘Hannah Berry FRSL’. She has published three graphic novels with Jonathan Cape – Britten & Brülightly (2008), Adamtine (2012) and Livestock (2017) – to a pleasing amount of critical acclaim. She currently does a monthly cartoon strip for Prospect and formerly did a weekly cartoon for the New Statesman. She is half Ecuadorian, lives in Brighton, and is extremely partial to cashews; the Ferrari of the nut world.
PAULA WILCOX is an acclaimed actress very well-known for roles in recent TV hits such as Girlfriends (ITV), Upstart Crow (BBC Two), Mount Pleasant (Sky One), Boomers (BBC One), Emmerdale (ITV) and The Smoking Room (BBC Three); and in old favourites like The Queen’s Nose (BBC One) and Man About The House (ITV). This January, she can be seen in the new series of Grantchester. Notable recent theatre work includes: Driving Miss Daisy (York Theatre Royal); What Shadows (Birmingham Rep and Park Theatre, London); Great Expectations (Vaudeville Theatre); Canary (Liverpool Everyman / Hampstead Theatre); Bea and Dreams of Violence (Soho Theatre) and La Cage Aux Folles (Playhouse Theatre).