Meet the 2024/25 Cohort of the Emerging Writers Programme

The London Library is delighted to announce the newest cohort of its flagship Emerging Writers Programme, which supports early-career writers and is now entering its sixth year.

40 participants were selected anonymously from a field of over 1,700 applicants, a record-breaking number, by a panel of judges including crime writer, poet, short story writer, self-help author and screenwriter Sophie Hannah, playwright, poet and non-fiction writer Sabrina Mahfouz, novelist and non-fiction writer Amber Medland, novelist, poet, publisher and children’s writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes, novelist, short story writer and literary critic Chris Power and Lutyens and Rubinstein literary agents Jenny Hewson and Jane Finigan. 

The emerging writers hail from across the UK, from Sussex to South Wales, Kent to County Durham, Birmingham, Bristol and London and they span an age range from early twenties to early fifties. This year’s cohort is working on a diverse array of projects, taking us from Afghanistan to Iran, Uganda to Sierra Leone, Brazil to the Dominican Republic. They delve into untold histories and explore the present moment: gentrification in East London, social housing in North London, the life of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and the incarceration of women around world. They explore art, colour, nature and cartography, cannibalism, witchcraft and hauntings, class comedy, murder mystery, fantasy, superhuman ability and plenty more besides.  

Of the 40 writers, six are working on non-fiction and memoir, sixteen are writing novels, three of which are for children or young adults, eight are writing for stage/screen, five are poets, four are writing short stories and one is working on a graphic novel.

The London Library’s Emerging Writers Programme is geared towards supporting writers who have not yet published a full-length work of fiction, non-fiction, collection of poems, or had a full-length work professionally produced for stage/screen. The 2024/25 Programme will run from 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2025.

Meet the 2024/25 cohort:

Vic Beswick is a writer based in South Wales, currently working on a debut novel about mental illness, memory, and hope. @vbeswickwrites

José Buera is a Caribbean/Latinx poet and essayist from the Dominican Republic currently living in London. His writing explores Caribbean identity, diaspora communities, Taino and African heritage, syncretic religions, and atypical psychology. His poetry has appeared in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Konch, Magma, Wasafiri (forthcoming), Wet Grain (forthcoming) and elsewhere. @wildkitchens

Robin Cantwell is a London-based writer with a passion for telling stories about rivalry, trauma and societal decay. He is a graduate of Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Yale Writers’ Workshop and Mercury Playwrights. He will be using his time at the London Library to write stage plays for scale.

C E Cathcart is an Irish writer and gardener based in London. She was previously the recipient of Spread the Word’s Early Career Bursary for emerging writers. She is currently working on a collection of essays that explore our relationship to nature and queerness through themes of rootedness and belonging. Instagram: @tendrils_lilee

Liz Churchill is a writer, drama-facilitator and parent-carer based in Birmingham. She writes short stories and runs a live fiction night. She is part of Writing West Midlands Room 204. Her writing has been published online by The Mechanics’ Institute Review and she has won the Scratch Books A4 Competition. Instagram: @lizrose8 | X: @LillabetRose

Heather Cutforth is from Wigan and now lives in London. Her work has appeared in Popshot Magazine, Janus Literary, and The Coalition. She is an alum of Curtis Brown Creative and the Soho Theatre Comedy Lab. Stylist magazine once recommended her Sigmund Freud joke. Instagram: heather_cutforth

Godelieve de Bree is a Dutch-American writer based in London. Her work has been published by Tate, fourteen poems and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She was a 2023 T.S. Eliot Prize Young Critic and a member of the Roundhouse Collective 22/23. X: @godelievedebree

Fionnuala Deasy works as a digital editor in museums and lives in South East London. She is writing a novel about art and anatomy set in the eighteenth century.

Olive Franklin is a writer living in London, with work in POETRY and berlin lit. X/Instagram: @usuallyolive

Jude Fransman is an academic, policy advisor and activist with an interest in communities and how they are represented. She coordinates a community-based research programme on a council estate in North London and is working on a collaborative, non-fiction account. Jude is represented by James Spackman at BKS Agency. X: @judefransman

Shona Graham is an actor/writer from the New Forest, and an alum of Old Vic Theatre Makers and INK Festival Writing Workshops, working across stage and screen. Her work has been described as ‘dark and whimsical’ and centres imperfect characters with complicated relationships to each other. @shonalucy

Will Jarvis is a scriptwriter and filmmaker. He wrote the upcoming shorts Aortic and Funeral Sandwiches and is directing and script editing the thriller Dinner, Diamonds & Death. He enjoys exploring diverse storytelling approaches, bringing fresh, non-linear perspectives to his genre-bending work in film, TV, podcasts, and theatre. @WillJarvis1996

Joe Kelly is an aspiring screenwriter interested in creating dark, strange and propulsive character studies for film. He works for the NHS as a communications officer and graduated from RSSD with an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media. He will use the programme to develop an original gothic thriller.

Dallas Koelling is a novelist and writer of short fiction, personal essays, poetry, drama and screenplays. She is about to graduate from City, University of London with an MFA in creative writing, where she focused on fiction. In 2020, she graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Spanish. Instagram: @dallaskoelling

Marcella Marx is a Brazilian writer and educator with an MFA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck. Her short stories have been longlisted for the Berlin Writing Prize (2022) and shortlisted for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (2024). She is currently working on her second novel, a tale about women adopting mimicry to navigate their lives.

Sharmaine Lim is a novelist and short story writer from London. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Her short stories have been shortlisted and longlisted for the Bridport (2023) and Fish (2024) prizes. Her work explores gender roles under patriarchy, family relationships, and cross-cultural lives. She was formerly a tax lawyer. @sharmainelim119

Hadiru Mahdi is a writer and artist of Sierra Leonean descent. He makes music as brother portrait and enjoys collaboration across disciplines. Themes in his work include objects as vessels; the power in space and place, language and map making. He is working on a project exploring memory and movement. Instagram: @brother_portrait

Sabrina Mahtani is a British-Zambian lawyer and writer. She has worked for several human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, The Elders and the Clooney Foundation for Justice. She hosts the Women Beyond Walls podcast, exposing the harms of the over-incarceration of women worldwide and inspiring women fighting to change a broken system. X: @sabrina_mahtani | Instagram: @sabrinaonsocial |

Alissa Mears teaches writing at the American School in London. A recovering travel writer, she is at work on a collection of essays about parenting her four sons, teaching, and holding it together for the next generation. Her second project is a feminist retelling of Prometheus. Instagram: @lissmears |X: @AlissaHMears | Substack:

Emma Mitchell is a Kent-based writer, comedian and brand strategist. Her interdisciplinary work centres on the female body and its relationship to culture, material experience and selfhood. She employs experimental creative practices and hybrid forms to express lost and marginalised female voices from history, principally those of eighteenth-century sex workers.

Olja Mladjenovic is a writer, actor (as Olivia Mark), artist and presenter. As a Bosnian refugee, her writing explores themes of identity, home, and the psychological impact of immigration. She is an award-winning author, poet, playwright and screenwriter. @oljamlad

Melina Namdar is a British Iranian writer and director. In 2022, she received the National Theatre/Peter Shaffer Commission with Tamasha Theatre. Her writing has been long-listed for the BBC Script Room and The Women’s Prize for Playwriting. Instagram: @melinathatsme | X: @melinanamdar

Gift Nyoni is a Zimbabwean-born writer and lawyer. His writing has been longlisted for the Bath Novel Award and BPA First Novel award. His short story, The Ritual Seat of the King, won the 2021 Guardian 4th Estate 4thWrite Prize. He is working on a collection of migrant love stories. Instagram: @literary_womble

Fiona O’Brien is a writer, lecturer and human rights campaigner. Formerly a foreign correspondent, she is currently the UK director of Reporters Without Borders and is working on a novel about motherhood and spiritual healing.

Erin Peacock is a writer of darkly funny, spiky literary fiction. Originally from Peterborough, she now lives in Bristol where she completed a MA in Creative Writing. She is driven to uncover our universal foibles through close observation and sly humour, often interrogating class identity, family dynamics and, mostly, death. X: @erinpwrites

c. f. prior is an art worker, writer and editor. They produce texts, events and objects guided by a preoccupation with hospitality, mutual dependence and loss and are one fifth of the writing collective We Don’t Write Alone. Substack: @cfprior

Holly Redshaw is a musician and bassoonist. Alongside her work as a performer, Holly teaches children of all ages alongside working in community and SEND settings. She has had poetry published in collections by Pareidolia Literary, Pile Press and Unpublishable Zine and is currently working on her debut novel. Instagram: @hol_red | X: @hollyredshaw

DC Restaino is a freelance editor and writer. His work has appeared online and in print at Funicular Magazine, SamFiftyFour, NOIA Magazine, Mulberry Lit and elsewhere, and was runner-up in the 2022 Dillydoun Review Flash Fiction Prize. Instagram: @dcrestaino

Lucie Richter-Mahr is a poet and researcher. Her work has appeared in Magma, Propel Magazine, and Lighthouse Journal, and was shortlisted for the 2024 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. She is currently working on her first poetry pamphlet.

Kate Roche is an emerging playwright and won Second Place in the Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize 2023. She has had two short plays staged at the Tower Theatre. She is also Press and Public Affairs Manager for the Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, and a Trustee at Theatre Deli.

Barry Sadid is an Afghan-British writer from South London, working on memory and oral history in an Afghan context. X: @barrysadid

Maxine Sibhiwana is a London-based poet and writer from Uganda. Her work explores themes of love, shame and questioning religious rituals, and has been published in Notebook by MUBI, Die Quieter Please, Lolwe and the James Currey Anthology of African Literature. Instagram: @maxinetheprincess on Instagram | X: @maxinethepoet

Audrey Slade is a British-American writer living in London.  Following a career in the banking and non-profit sectors, she began writing historical fiction. She has completed a novel spanning both world wars and a novella set in 1990s New York. X: @Audrey_N_Slade

Avantika Taneja (Avanti) is a facilitator, project manager and workshop designer in the educational charity sector. Her middle-grade writing journey began with the Megaphone scheme in 2016. She has contributed a number of short stories to Aquila children’s magazine, an educational programme and BBC school radio. Her writing, like her spirit, spans many places. X: @Avanti_Taneja

Nusrath Tapadar is a Bengali Muslim actor, writer and comedian. She began writing whilst studying English at the University of Cambridge. She then trained at the Oxford School of Drama. Nusrath recently finished writing for ITV X’s Piglets, and is currently writing a commissioned short treatment of her sitcom, Chicken Shop.

Kelly Vassie is a Brighton-based artist with a background in theatre and philosophy of science. Her graphic novel-in-progress From the Bones of Old Horses is a fictional memoir told from the perspective of the colour Prussian Blue. It has been longlisted for both the First Graphic Novel Award and LDC Prize. Instagram: from_the_bones_of_old_horses |

Abby Walker is a County Durham writer, currently in her final year of an MFA with Manchester Writing School. Her work-in-progress is a gothic horror, haunted house novel set in the post-War North East. Instagram: @abbyjaywrites

Nathanael Wheatcroft-Brown is a writer from the North of England. He completed his BA in Filmmaking and his MA in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. He is currently working on a queer, Northern, working-class YA novel. Instagram: @bookofnate

Annabel White is a short story writer based in London. Her work was shortlisted for the Letter Review Prize 2023 and has been published in MslexiaPopshot and Litro. She is working on a collection of stories that explores the grossness of girlhood, covering themes such as sex, pressure, body image and the internet. X: @annabelwh1te

Emma Zipfel is a teacher, writer, and lifelong Londoner. Her contemporary YA stories explore the challenges of teenage life with equal measures of humour and darkness. She is inspired by beautiful descriptions of nature, everyday city settings, and liminal spaces where anything feels possible. Instagram: @e.zwords