City of Stories

"It’s time for writers and readers in one of the most diverse and international cities on earth to put pen to paper and let loose a creativity without borders."
- Bidisha, City of Stories Writer in Residence

City of Stories celebrates London’s writers, readers and libraries.

Taking place over two years (2017 and 2018), it aims to position libraries as the place to discover and create stories by:

* Celebrating and promoting short stories to readers across London libraries;

* Engaging London’s diverse communities with telling their own stories;

* Supporting the development of London’s emerging short story writers.

Londoners will be able to:

* Take part in free creative writing workshops across London throughout June 2017;

* Enter the City of Stories 500 word story competition (if they have attended a City of Stories workshop);

* Attend reading events in libraries in November 2017;

* Read new work by City of Stories writers-in-residence and competition winners.

City of Stories is an Association of London’s Chief Librarian’s project run in partnership with Spread the Word.



City of Stories Writers

City of Stories Writer in Residence

Alex Wheatle

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Alex Wheatle was born in 1963. Alex spent most of his childhood in social services care. He is the author of novels including: ‘Brixton Rock’,East of Acre Lane’, ‘The Seven Sisters’, ‘Island Songs’, ‘Checkers’, co-written with Mark Parham and ‘The Dirty South’. Alex was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. Alex’s first young adult novel, ‘Liccle Bit’, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2015.Shame & Scandal’, Alex’s debut play, played to sold out audiences at the Albany Theatre, Deptford in October, 2015. His Young Adult novel ‘Crongton Knights’ won the Guardian’s Children’s fiction award for 2016, the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award and has been shortlisted for the 2017 Bookseller Young Adult prize.Straight Outta Crongton’, the third in the Crongton trilogy, was published in April 2017.


Photo of Alex by Walter White

City of Stories Writer in Residence

Courttia Newland

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Courttia Newland is the author of seven works of fiction including his debut, The Scholar. His latest novel, ‘The Gospel According to Cane’, was published in 2013 and has been optioned by Cowboy Films. He was nominated for the Impac Dublin Literary Award, The Frank O’ Conner award, The CWA Dagger in the Library Award, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and The Theatre 503 Award for playwriting as well as numerous others. His short stories have appeared in many anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2016 her was awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Busary for playwriting. He is associate lecturer in creative writing at the University of Westminster and is completing a PhD in creative writing.


Photo of Courttia by Sharmila Chauhan

City of Stories Writer in Residence


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Bidisha is an author, journalist and BBC and Sky broadcaster. She also does outreach work in UK prisons, detention centres and refugees’ resource centres. This inspired her fifth book, ‘Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London’, which was published in 2015. This followed her previous book, a Middle East reportage entitled ‘Beyond the Wall’. She is also the author of two novels (‘Seahorses’ and ‘Too Fast To Live’) and ‘Venetian Masters’, a travel memoir from Venice. Bidisha has just completed her sixth book, a collection of travel pieces from India, Italy and China, and is currently completing her first poetry collection. She is a Trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation, looking after the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes for fiction in English and in translation.

City of Stories Writer in Residence

Irenosen Okojie

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Irenosen Okojie’s debut novel, ‘Butterfly Fish’, won a Betty Trask Award and has been shortlisted for an Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award. Her short stories have been published internationally, including the Kwani 07 and Platitude. Her short story collection, ‘Speak Gigantular’, was published in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize for writers of colour and longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

City of Stories writer

Anita Belli

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Anita Belli is a compulsive writer and creative tutor, writing  novels about women, love, war and art: ‘The Art Forger’s Daughter’ is available on Amazon and Kindle whilst  ‘The Traveller and The Rose,’ set in the Spanish Civil War, will be published by Endeavour Press this summer. Anita delivers Creative Writing Programmes, Kickstarts, Write Your Life and school workshops with writers from age 5 to 85 across diverse communities and abilities.

City of Stories writer

Miriam Nash

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Miriam Nash is a poet and creative writing tutor. Her award-winning book, ‘All the Prayers in the House’ (Bloodaxe, June 2017), explores real and imagined stories surrounding an island in the Scottish Hebrides where she lived as a child. She has taught creative writing in schools, museums and prisons since 2009.

Photo of Miriam by Naomi Woddis

City of Stories Writer

Jasmine Ann Cooray

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Jasmine Ann Cooray is a poet, writer and counsellor from London, of Sri Lankan and mixed European lineage, who started out writing angst poems in her bedroom in purple ink. Now her poems are less angsty, and she teaches others to use creative tools to access humanity and joy. Her abstract accolades include: ‘Writer in Residence at the National University of Singapore in 2013’, ‘2015 BBC Performing Arts Fellow’, and now Spread the Word Associate Writer. She is working on a collaborative poetry and aerial arts show with Upswing about trust in relationships. To balance her reclusiveness, she does an excellent line in hugs.

Photo of Jasmine by Naomi Woddis.

City of Stories Writer

Laila Sumpton

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Laila Sumpton is a poet who works with learners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. She delivers writing workshops in libraries, universities, schools, museums and hospitals. She has recently facilitated storytelling workshops with an Asian women’s group at the British Library and is an Associate Writer with Spread the Word.

City of Stories writer

Lewis Buxton

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Lewis Buxton is a writer and arts producer. He leads creative writing workshops in schools, libraries and universities across the U.K. His work has appeared in Ambit magazine, Paper Swans Press & Elbow Room. He is currently writer-in-residence at Villiers High School and lives in London.

City of Stories writer

Tom Mallender

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Tom Mallender is a writer specialising in the use of archive and found material. He works as a creative writing  workshop facilitator and  is creative director of Write-London. Tom runs both one day and multipart workshops for all ages and abilities, but specialises in working with marginalised people. He has worked with Age UK Islington, Claremont Centre, Creative Future,  Spread the Word, Freedom ,Holy Cross Centre Trust ,Iranian Association, It’s Not Your Birthday But …, Mind in Camden, New Unity ,Queen’s Crescent Community Association, Gospel Oak Action Link, Response Community Project, TV Roehampton, The Royal Star and Grater and others. When not copying down bits of interesting graffiti, signage or overheard conversation, he can be found indulging in many of the vices of a self-proclaimed geek and not writing in the 3rd person.

City of Stories writer

Nick Field

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Nick Field is a writer and performer. His work has been produced and staged internationally, and his residencies and commissions include Keats House and London Metropolitan Archives. As an arts educator he has worked with organisations including City Lit, The Poetry School, Ideas Tap and Apples and Snakes. He is an Associate Writer with Spread the Word.


City of Stories is an exciting, timely project celebrating the short form and the stories of this unique city. Now more than ever, we need to nurture the vibrant, varied voices of our artists.

Irenosen Okojie, City of Stories Writer-in-Residence

Get involved

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Libraries are the lifeblood of literature. Without them many of our well loved authors might have struggled to become writers at all, or at least found things a great deal tougher. They’re our beacons in a misty world, particularly in cities where stories are plentiful but distractions equally numerous.


Courttia Newland, City of Stories Writer-in-Residence

Libraries taking part in City of Stories 2017:

Barking Library, Barking and Dagenham  – Bexleyheath Library, Bexley  – Willesden Green Library, Brent  – St Pancras Library, Camden – Croydon Central Library, Croydon – Ealing Central Library, Ealing – Woolwich Library, Greenwich  – Stoke Newington Library, Hackney – Hammersmith Library, Hammersmith and Fulham – Islington Central Library, Islington – Kensington Central Library, Kensington and Chelsea – Kingston Library, Kingston – Forest Hill Community Library, Lewisham  – Merton Arts Space @ Wimbledon Library, Merton  – Canning Town Library, Newham – Redbridge Central Library, Redbridge – Idea Store Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets – Walthamstow Library, Waltham Forest  – Victoria Library, Westminster – Putney Library, Wandsworth  – Balham Library, Wandsworth


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