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Keynote Speakers 12-14 Sep 2019


Professor Chris Bigsby

Christopher Bigsby is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, as well as a novelist and biographer. He first met Doris Lessing when he interviewed her for Radio 4’s arts review programme, Kaleidoscope, and brought her to the UEA in 1991. Bigsby remained close personal friends with Lessing for many years. 

He also interviewed her for French television, an occasion on which the recording was twice interrupted by the wail of her three-legged cat which insisted on intruding. Bigsby was instrumental in Lessing's decision to leave her love letters, diaries and remaining papers to the UEA.


Margaret Drabble 

Dame Margaret Drabble was born in Sheffield in 1939 and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen novels including A Summer Bird-Cage, The Millstone, The Peppered Moth, The Red Queen, The Sea Lady and most recently, the highly acclaimed The Pure Gold Baby. She has also written biographies, screenplays and was the editor of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. She was appointed CBE in 1980, and made DBE in the 2008 Honours list. She was also awarded the 2011 Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature. She is married to the biographer Michael Holroyd and lives in London and Somerset.

Doris Lessing was a very close friend of both Margaret and Michael and originally chose Michael as her authorised biographer. Following Lessing's death in 2013, Michael announced he was "too old" to take on what would be a ten year project and the historian and biographer Patrick French was later appointed to the role. 


Dr. Nick Hubble 

Nick Hubble is Reader in English at Brunel University in London. He is the author of Mass-Observation and Everyday Life: Culture, History, Theory (2006) and The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question (2017).

Nick has edited five volumes of Bloomsbury’s ‘British Fiction: The Decades Series’, and another co-edited collection, Working-Class Writing: Theory and Practice, is due out with Palgrave. Nick is currently writing a new monograph, The Science Fiction Futures of Modernism: From Virginia Woolf to the Feminist Speculative Fiction of the Twenty-First Century.



Professor Roberta Rubenstein 

Roberta Rubenstein is Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C. Her scholarship on Doris Lessing began with her first book, The Novelistic Vision of Doris Lessing: Breaking the Forms of Consciousness, published in 1979. Her most recent book, Literary Half-Lives: Doris Lessing, Clancy Sigal, and Roman à Clef, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

She also co-edited, with Alice Ridout and Sandra Singer, The Golden Notebook After Fifty, a collection of essays on Lessing’s landmark novel (2015), and is the author of more than a dozen journal articles and book chapters on Lessing’s work.



Keynote Speakers on 26 October 2019


Professor Lara Feigel

Lara Feigel is a literary critic and cultural historian teaching in the English department at King’s College London. Her most recent book, Free Woman (2018), is an investigation of freedom that is part memoir and part biography of Doris Lessing.

Her previous books include The Bitter Taste of Victory (2016), an account of the experiences of twenty of the British and American cultural figures sent in to Germany after the war, and The Love-charm of Bombs (2013), about five writers in London in the Second World War. She is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize and a European Research Council Starting Grant and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.