On the Same Page

Throughout 2020, as part of our bicentenary celebrations, we have curated a special series of conversations: On The Same Page brings together RSL Fellows who would not normally share a stage, to discuss the role of the writer in uncertain political times.

Elected by their writer peers, each new RSL Fellow signs the Society’s historic Roll Book, bearing signatures from 1825 to 2019. On The Same Page brings together writers who signed the same page of the book, to reflect on their own experiences and explore literature in Britain today.

These writers were all due to share a stage at various UK literature festivals, so we have collaborated with BBC Radio 3’s ‘Free Thinking’ to adapt them for broadcast, and these episodes will also be available on the BBC Arts and Ideas podcast.





Anne Fine and Romesh Gunesekera – part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Tuesday 26 May

Courtesy BBC

Fellows Anne and Romesh were both elected to the RSL in 2004. In this conversation, hosted by BBC presenter and writer Shahidha Bari, they describe their writing to each other and discuss the writer’s life as it intersects with the everyday, as well as the differences of writing for young and adult readers. Anne Fine is a British author of novels for adults and children, and her latest novel is Blood Family. She was elected as a Fellow in 2003. Romesh Gunesekera is a Sri Lankan author, and his latest book is Suncatcher. He was elected as a Fellow in 2004. Norfolk and Norwich Festival has more author interviews on its website.


Nadifa Mohamed and Irenosen Okojie – part of Bare Lit Festival

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Tuesday 23 June

Bare Lit is an annual, London-based literature festival celebrating the work of writers of colour. As part of its programme in July-August, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast an edition of On The Same Page with Nadifa and Irenosen, both elected as Fellows in 2018.  They discuss poetry as a means of creating inspiration, about editing one’s own work, and how their identities as Black British women informs their writing. Nadifa Mohamed is a Somali-British writer whose work includes novels, short stories, essays, memoirs and articles. Irenosen Okojie is a Nigerian-British writer, and her latest book Nudibranch has been shortlisted for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.


Tahmima Anam and Ian Rankin – part of Bradford Literature Festival

Originally Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Tuesday 30 June 2020

Courtesy of the BBC

Bradford Literature Festival ran as a digital festival from 26 June to 5 July 2020. As part of its programme of world-renowned speakers, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a conversation with Tahmima and Ian, who were both elected as Fellows in 2016. They discuss nostaglia, writing cities, and the awkwardness of sex scenes. Tahmima Anam is Bangladesh-born British anthropologist and a novelist. Her debut novel, A Golden Age, was winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, and was a judge for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. Ian Rankin is a Scottish novelist, and has received an OBE for services to literature. His Rebus series has been translated into 22 languages.

Daljit Nagra and Val McDermid – part of Durham Book Festival

Originally Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking, Saturday 14 October 2020

Durham Book Festival, which ran from 9-18 October 2020, was produced by New Writing North and is part of Durham County Council’s exciting festivals programme. Poet Daljit Nagra and crime writer Val McDermid – who both signed the Roll Book in 2017.

Special thanks to BBC producer Robyn Read and presenter Shahidha Bari.