Michaela Coel and Russell T Davies among writers appointed as RSL fellows

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Michaela Coel, Russell T Davies and Nick Cave are among the writers to be newly appointed as fellows into The Royal Society of Literature (RSL).

The acclaimed writers were part of a cohort of 60 new appointments which were announced by the charity during an event held in south London on Tuesday.

The event also hosted the RSL’s largest mass induction as 148 fellows and honorary fellows elected between 2020-2022 signed their names into the roll book.

BAFTA Film Awards 2015 – Arrivals – London
Nick Cave said it was an “absolute honour” to be elected as an RSL fellow (Matt Crossick/PA)

The RSL roll book dates back to 1825, five years after the founding of the charity in 1820, and features the signatures of fellows appointed in the past 200 years.

To be nominated as a fellow, a writer must have published or produced two works of outstanding literary merit, and nominations must be made by two fellows or honorary fellows.

Actress and screenwriter Coel has produced many works of note but she is best known for creating and starring in the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum and the Bafta-winning sexual assault drama I May Destroy You.

Meanwhile Davies’ writing credits include Queer As Folk, Doctor Who and the multi-award-winning Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin.

Singer-songwriter Cave, who has produced a number of writing projects in various forms across his career, added that it was an “absolute honour” to be elected as an RSL fellow.

The president of the RSL and Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo also reflected on the importance of storytelling amid the inductions.

South Bank Sky Arts Awards
RSL president Bernardine Evaristo reflected on the importance of storytelling (Ian West/PA)

The best-selling author of Girl, Woman, Other said: “Storytelling is at the heart of who we are as humans – it is how we understand, contextualise, mirror, examine, challenge, entertain and imagine life from multiple experiences and perspectives.

“We all deserve to be active and equal participants in the production and consumption of literature that is as wide-ranging as ourselves.”

Among the 60 new appointments were the first group of writers elected to fellowship through the charity’s 200th anniversary Open Initiative.

The initiative aims to appoint 60 writers as fellows over the course of two years from communities, backgrounds and experiences currently under-represented in UK literary culture.

Twenty-nine writers were elected in this first year of the programme with Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee among them.

Derry Girls premiere – Londonderry
Writer Lisa McGee created the hit comedy drama Derry Girls (Liam McBurney/PA)

Chair of the RSL Daljit Nagra said: “We at the RSL are a community of readers and writers coming together for the advancement of literature, bringing our multiple experiences and perspectives to bear on some of the biggest questions of our times.

“Fellowship isn’t just an honour bestowed to a writer by their peers; being a fellow gives you the opportunity to show what literature can do to change all our lives.

“Our fellows inform the work we do, and our summer party is a joyous celebration of the writers who enrich our nations with the cultural wealth of their generous literature.

“I am delighted to be chair of an organisation that shows the extraordinary and diverse excellence of writing in the UK, and makes it possible for us to create a society we want to live in.”

The Benson Medal, which honours service to literature across a whole career, was also awarded to author, tutor, editor and literary consultant Sandra A Agard.

She has published numerous works as well as working for more than 40 years in libraries and in educational and cultural institutions and literary festivals throughout the UK and in the US.

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