Thu, 27 Apr 2023 18:30 - 20:45

Lit Fest: Painting Women Writers (In person & online)

In 2019 the South African born, UK-based artist Susanne du Toit was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in London to paint a portrait of the writer Jeanette Winterson for their collection. Since then, inspired by her encounter with Winterson, du Toit has embarked on a project to paint a further 20 women writers, building a stunning series of portraits which plumb, in paint on the canvas, the emotional and imaginative depths of subjects whose work does the same with words on the page. Featuring the likes of Dolly Alderton, Rosie Boycott, Diana Evans, Pascale Petit, Ayisha Malik, Clover Stroud and others, the complete series will be shown for the first time at The London Library, in the Art Reading Room, for the duration of The London Library Lit Fest and beyond. 

Join us for this special salon event to launch both the festival and the exhibition. View, the paintings, have a drink at the bar and then hear from Susanne du Toit and and some of the writers who sat for her - Juliet JacquesDreda Say Mitchell and Sacha Llewellyn - in conversation with fellow sitter Lara Feigel about artistic collaboration, what it is for a writer to be the subject rather than the creator of a work of art and where writing and portraiture overlap. 

Susanne du Toit is a painter, printmaker, and ceramicist who has exhibited widely and won several awards for her work, including the BP Portrait Award in 2013. She has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria and an MFA, majoring in printmaking and painting, from Massachusetts College of Art. Susanne’s main practice is currently portraiture and she has painted various personalities from the world of arts and entertainment, such as screenwriter Stephen Beresford and actors Timothy Spall and David Schwimmer. 

Lara Feigel is a Professor of Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the author of six books, most recently a work of hybrid memoir/criticism Look! We Have Come Through! – Living with D.H. Lawrence and a novel, The Group

Juliet Jacques is a writer and filmmaker, whose books include Trans: A MemoirVariations, a collection of short stories; and Front Lines: Trans Journalism 2007-2021. She has also written for the New StatesmanGranta, the London Review of Books and her Guardian column, 'Transgender Journey', was longlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2011. 

Sacha Llewellyn is a British art historian, curator and author, specialising in British women artists between the wars. She received the William MB Berger prize in 2017 for her work on the painter Winifred Knights and has been longlisted ten times for the Berger Art History prize. 

Dreda Say Mitchell MBE is a writer of award-winning crime novels, the latest of which is Say Her Name. A passionate campaigner and speaker on social issues and the arts, she has been a frequent guest on television and radio including Question Time, Newsnight, Front Row and Woman’s Hour and presented Radio 4’s Open Book. 

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by Fondation Jan Michalski.

The limited edition book accompanying the exhibition will be available to buy on the night or online from Eiderdown Books .

Books by all festival contributors are available to buy from our partner bookshop Hatchards.

N.B. This event will take place in person at The London Library and will be livestreamed. If you are joining us in person, please see our  Event Access and COVID Guidelines before you arrive. Doors, the exhibition and the bar open at 6.30pm, with the talk starting at 7.15pm . The livestream will begin on YouTube from 7.15pm and will be available to watch live or at any time after the event, using the same link. 

If you purchase an online ticket, you will be sent a viewing link 24 hours before the event begins. If you do not receive a link, please check your junk mail or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Access all Lit Fest events online with The London Library Lit Fest Online Pass

The limited edition book accompanying the exhibition is available to buy from Eiderdown BooksYou may also be interested in Lit Fest: Silence in the Library, the Revolution (In person & online)

London Library events are subject to Terms and Conditions.