Debjani Chatterjee

b. 1952

Debjani Chatterjee was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2019.

Debjani Chatterjee is a poet, writer, storyteller and translator. She grew up in India, Japan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and Egypt, coming to England in 1972. Described as a poet ‘full of wit and charm’ (Andrew Motion), and ‘a national treasure’ (Barry Tebb), her 8 poetry collections include I Was That Woman, Namaskar: New & Selected Poems, and Do You Hear the Storm Sing?  She has edited prize-winning books, e.g. Barbed Lines, The Redbeck Anthology of British South Asian Poetry, Mango Shake and Rainbow World. Her books for children include The Elephant-Headed God & Other Hindu Tales (a Children’s Book of the Year), Animal Antics, and Let’s Celebrate! Festival Poems from Around the World.

She has chaired the National Association of Writers in Education, Yorkshire Arts’ Literature Panel and the Arts Council of England’s Translations Panel, and been a Poetry Society Trustee. She is currently an RLF Fellow at De Montfort University. A cancer survivor and arts psychotherapist, she founded the Healing Word support group. Debjani has mentored survivors of cancer and mental distress.

She sometimes visits schools and libraries as a writer. Important writing residencies have included ones at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Ilkley Litfest, and the Millennium Galleries. Major awards include Sheffield Hallam University’s honorary doctorate in 2002 ‘for outstanding contribution to Literature, the Arts and Community Service’, and an MBE in 2008 ‘for services to Literature’. She was an Olympic Torchbearer in 2012. 

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Image credit: Adrian Pope