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Marina Warner

Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Professorial Research Fellow, SOAS.

Marina Warner’s mother was Italian and her father an English bookseller; she was brought up in Egypt, Belgium, and Cambridge, England. She has been a writer since she was young, specialising in mythology and fairy-tales, with an emphasis on the part women play in them. Her award-winning books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (l976), Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (l982), From the Beast to the Blonde : On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1994) and No Go the Bogeyman (1998). In l994 she gave the BBC Reith Lectures on the theme of Six Myths of Our Time. Her books include Phantasmagoria: Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media (2006), Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011) and Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (OUP, 2012) . She also writes fiction: The Lost Father (l988), was short-listed for the Booker prize, and in 2000, The Leto Bundle (2000) was long-listed. Her third collection of short stories, Fly Away Home came out in 2014. She has curated exhibitions, including The Inner Eye (l996), Metamorphing (2002-3), and Only Make-Believe: Ways of Playing (2005); Forms of Enchantment: Writing on Art and Artists will be published next year. She chaired the Man Booker International Prize for 2015. Her third collection of short stories, Fly Away Home, was published by Salt in autumn 2015.

Since 2016, she has been working on the theme of Sanctuary and culture in times of dislocation and diaspora, developing the international Stories in Transit project, which aspires to work with displaced individuals, whatever their status, asking: What role can imaginary narratives play in contemporary conditions? In what ways can the ancient human capacity to tell and pass on stories help in the present crisis? Can make-believe help make-truth? More information about the work can be found here: Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale (OUP, 2014) will be reissued as Fairy Tale: A Very Short Introduction in 2018. Forthcoming publications include Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists (Thames and Hudson) and The Shadow Image, edited by Rut Blees Luxembourg, with essay and photographs from a trip to China in 1975 by Marina Warner. She is also still at work on a memoir-cum-novel set in Cairo in the Fifties.

She is a contributing editor to The London Review of Books, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and, since 2017, President of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made DBE in 2015, and the same year was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities. in 2017 she was given a British Academy Medal and a World Fantasy Life Time Achievement Award. She is currently patron of the Ted Hughes Society, Bloodaxe Books, Society for Story Telling, Hosking Houses Trust and The Longford Trust.