Private Lives | Free Word

9 July 2019
17:30 - 18:30

Presented by:
English PEN and The Society of Authors


Legal tools for writing biography and memoir

Join us for a pre-PEN Ackerley Prize talk on ‘Privacy and Memoir’, held in conjunction with the Society of Authors (SoA). Award-winning writer and investigative journalist Katharine Quarmby,  award-winner author Blake Morrison (And When Did You Last See Your Father?) and SoA Chief Executive Nicola Solomon will discuss the practical, ethical and legal considerations of writing biography and memoir considering defamation, privacy, copyright and dealing with the sensitivities of subjects, surviving relatives and owners of estates.

Come along to gain a fascinating insight into the mechanics of biography and memoir and hear the panel answer your burning questions.



Buy a £10 joint ticket for both Private Lives and the PEN Ackerley Prize, which follows this event. Once both events are in your basket, at the final stage of checkout a discount will be applied automatically .

9 July 2019
17:30 - 18:30

English PEN and The Society of Authors


Katharine Quarmby

Katharine Quarmby is an award-winning writer and investigative journalist. She has written a short memoir about the search for her Iranian birth father (Blood and Water, Kindle Single, 2013), a book chapter about her mother coming to the UK from post-war Yugoslavia as a refugee ('Becoming English" in A Country of Refuge, Unbound, 2016) , and a lightly fictionalised account of her Serbian family's connection to the plot to murder Archduke Franz Ferdinand (The Priest, the Assassin, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Kindle/Thistle, 2014).

Blake Morrisson

Blake Morrison is a poet, novelist and the author of two bestselling memoirs, And When Did You Last See Your Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me. His novel The Last Weekend was adapted for television and his recent novel, The Executor, explored issues around publishing, ethics and consent. He is Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths University, London.

Nicola Solomon

Nicola Solomon is Chief Executive at the SoA and also manages its associated charities. Her role includes promoting authors' interests in negotiations/disputes with publishers and agents, campaigning for authors’ rights and directing funds that help authors buy time to write. Nicola has an in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry and the many associated legal areas, from copyright and defamation, to contract and charity law. She is a solicitor and Deputy District Judge, and Director of Literary and Dramatic Works at the British Copyright Council as well as a committee member of the International Authors Forum.



There is step-free access to all areas of Free Word and a number of other facilities available to make the venue accessible. 

  • Our box office, theatre and hall are all on the ground floor with step-free access from the street
  • Meeting rooms and offices are accessible by lift from the ground floor
  • There are two accessible toilets on the ground floor
  • Hearing loops are available at the box office and the theatre (when set up theatre style) and in all meeting rooms
  • If you need to bring someone for assistance, please get in touch with us so we can provide a free ticket for them

Please talk to our team if you have specific access requirements.


The End of Diaspora

New performance piece by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

A brand new performance piece by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan on a world beyond origins

Part of Writing Our Way Home season

Information Commissioner & Tribunal Decisions

Presented by Campaign for Freedom of Information

The Future of Social Housing

Interactive workshop with Shelter

A fun workshop with poetry, films and discussions on ways to achieve better social housing

Part of Writing Our Way Home season

Home Truths

New monologues on ‘Home’ by writers of colour

A showcase of brand new monologues on ‘Home’ by writers of colour hosted by The Upsetters

Part of Writing Our Way Home season