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Series Editor: Sarah Dillon

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Gylphi Contemporary Writers: Critical Essays presents a new approach to the academic study of living authors. The titles in this Series are devoted to contemporary Anglophone writers whose work is popularly and critically valued but on whom a significant body of academic criticism has yet to be established. The Series covers writers of all forms, from those penning long and short fiction, to poets, dramatists and authors of creative non-fiction. Each of the titles in the Series develops out of the best contributions to an international conference; represents the most intelligent and provocative material in current thinking about the writer’s work; and suggests future avenues of thought, comparison and analysis. With each title prefaced by an author foreword, the Series embraces the challenges of writing on living authors and provides the foundation stones for future critical work on our most significant contemporary writers.

How To Contribute

The collections in the Series develop out of single-author conferences at which academic papers have been presented and to which the writer themselves has contributed in some way, be it in a reading or Q&A. If you have an idea for a single-author conference which fits the aims of the Series, please download the Conference Proposal Form, and complete and return to the Series Editor ( If the proposal is accepted, Gylphi will offer conference support leading to publication in the Series. Gylphi will provide services such as the design of flyers, hosting the conference webpage, promotion, and publishing conference proceedings. It is expected that the Conference organiser’s institution will host the event and that any financial support will be secured internally or from external funding bodies. In some instances, the Series will consider a Collection Proposal from a conference already held; please contact the Editor to discuss this.


The Gylphi Contemporary Writers series is highly regarded in the study of contemporary Anglophone fiction. It offers serious critical reflection on writers who are beginning to establish a very significant literary reputation or who are at one remove from the literary mainstream. The books in the series are original, thought-provoking and open up the work of the writer to academic scholarship: they are now an essential feature of the intellectual landscape in this field. --Robert Eaglestone, Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London

This vital, inventive, entirely distinctive book series shines a critical spotlight on writers who have often not received the sustained scholarly attention they deserve. Thanks to the interpretively dextrous work of volumes in this list, the oeuvres of important living writers are theorized, contextualized, and analytically evaluated in original ways that are stimulating for scholars and students alike. Sarah Dillon has worked industriously over the years to build a genuinely diverse list that reinvigorates both the principle and potential of author-focused studies of contemporary writing – a list that’s now indispensable for anyone researching and teaching in the field. --David James, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature, University of Birmingham

Forthcoming Conferences

Jackie Kay, early 2020, Liverpool John Moores University

Benjamin Markovits, 16 June 2020, Worcester College, Oxford

Forthcoming Titles

Naomi Alderman: Critical Essays (ed. Caroline Wintersgill and Mike Witcombe)

Michel Faber: Critical Essays (ed. Jim MacPherson, Rebecca Langworthy and Kristin Lindfield-Ott)

Sarah Hall: Critical Essays (ed. Alexander Beaumont and Elke D'hoker)

Editorial Team


Sarah Dillon (University of Cambridge)

Editorial Board

Kasia Boddy (University of Cambridge)
Jennifer Cooke (University of Loughborough)
Zinnie Harris (University of St Andrews)
Robert Macfarlane (University of Cambridge)


Sarah Dillon is University Lecturer in Literature and Film in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. She is author of The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory (2007) and Deconstruction, Feminism, Film (2018). She is editor of David Mitchell: Critical Essays (2011) and co-editor of Maggie Gee: Critical Essays (2015). She is Chair of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies and serves on the editorial board of C21 Literature: Journal of Twenty-First Century Writing and Fantastika. Sarah is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence where she is co-Project Lead for the AI Narratives project, in collaboration with the Royal Society. She is also a BBC radio broadcaster.

Kasia Boddy is University Lecturer in American Literature in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College. She has published extensively on short fiction, including The American Short Story since 1950 (2010), and has edited or co-edited several anthologies, including The New Penguin Book of American Short Stories (2011). She is currently working on a book on the idea of the Great American Novel. She also explores the imaginative resources offered by activities such as sport and horticulture, which have become ubiquitous to the point of saturation in modern life, but which for the most part enter only obliquely into literature. Boxing: A Cultural History (2008) and Geranium (2013) consider the often incidental representation in literature of events, activities, and objects whose meaning and value is historically contingent.

Jennifer Cooke is Senior Lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She is editor of the book of essays Scenes of Intimacy: Reading, Writing and Theorizing Contemporary Literature (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), and a special issue of Textual Practice entitled Challenging Intimacies: Legacies of Psychoanalysis (September 2013). She is the author of Legacies of Plague in Literature, Theory, and Film (Palgrave 2009) and has published articles and book chapters on contemporary poetics, modernist female writers, psychoanalysis, affect theory, life-writing and Hélène Cixous. She is also a published poet.

Zinnie Harris is Senior Lecturer in Playwriting at the University of St Andrews and a multi-award winning British playwright and screenwriter. Her plays include: The Wheel (National Theatre of Scotland 2011), joint winner of the 2011 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and a Fringe First Award, subsequent production at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago; Midwinter, Solstice and Fall (a trilogy of plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company / Traverse Theatre 2005 / 2006 / 2008); Julie (National Theatre of Scotland 2006); Nightingale and Chase (Royal Court Theatre, London 2001); Further than the Furthest Thing (Royal National Theatre/Tron Theatre, then British Council Tour to South Africa), subsequent production at MTC, New York; and, By Many Wounds (Hampstead Theatre 1999). Her television writing includes ‘Born with Two Mothers’ and ‘Richard is my Boyfriend’, both for Channel 4, and several episodes for the BBC One Drama Series Spooks. She was writer in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2000–2001 and is currently an Associate Artist at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.

Robert Macfarlane is University Senior Lecturer in Post-WWII Writing in English in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge – where he co-convenes the ‘Contemporary Writing’ special paper – and a Fellow of Emmanuel College. He has published widely on contemporary literature, with particular interests in the novel, travel writing, experimental non-fiction, and radical landscape poetry. He is the author of three award-winning books exploring aspects of place and imagination – Mountains of the Mind (2003), The Wild Places (2007) and The Old Ways (2012). He is currently finishing Landmarks, a book about landscape-lexis, and working on a book about subterranea called Under. He was a Booker Prize judge in 2004; and Chair of the Man Booker Prize in 2013.

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