The Readers' Voice

A Convention for Readers and Reading Groups

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Ben Crystal - actor and writer. He has worked in TV, film and theatre, has recorded audiobooks for the RNIB Talking Books, and worked as a narrator for Channel 4 and the BBC. He regularly gives poetry readings at literature festivals around the country, and is a Liar with the Liar's League. He has written three books on Shakespeare; his most recent 'Shakespeare on Toast' (Icon, 2008), is a fascinating and refreshing take on the Bard.

Dymphna Flynn - producer of Bookclub, the nation's reading group on air. Every month on Radio 4 she arranges and edits the programme, presented by James Naughtie, who is chairing the judging panel of the 2009 Man Booker prize.  A leading author discusses one of their earlier successes, and a group of readers invited from the interested public ask the questions.

Jenny Hartley - Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. She has a particular interest in reading groups and is currently pioneering an undergraduate course 'About Reading', which studies reading behaviour. She is among the first to have written about reading groups in that bible of bibles, 'Reading Groups', published by Oxford University Press in 2001.  

Chris Meade – charismatic Director of if:book, a small think and do tank based in London which explores the potential of new media for creative readers and writers & investigates how the nature of writing  and reading is changing as it moves from printed page to networked screen.

Kathryn Sutherland - Professor of English at St. Anne's College, Oxford, her special interests lie with ‘book studies’, from the history of publishing and bookselling, through to the forensic reconstruction of original texts. She is an expert on Jane Austen, about whom she has written and lectured extensively. She has written Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood (OUP, 2007). Her latest book about the relation between digital technology and print, Transferred Illusions: Digital Technology and the Forms of Printco-authored with Marilyn Deegan, is published in April 2009.

Joan Swann - is Director of the Centre for Language and Communication at the Open University. She is a sociolinguist with a particular interest in the analysis of spoken interaction across a range of contexts. Other interests include creativity in everyday and literary language – a recent publication in this area is the co-edited volume The Art of English: everyday creativity. She is principle investigator of The Discourse of Reading Groups, a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council which looks at how reading groups interpret and evaluate contemporary fiction.


Panel Members & Discussion Leaders

Suzanne Birkett – is a member of a reading group and is passionate about books.

Anney Blake - is a Librarian with Oxfordshire Libraries.

Clare Chandler - runs the influential independent website for reading groups  with Irene Haynes and  the help of a small team of readers and reviewers, who are all members of reading groups. Together they have a wealth experience and have been giving advice to reading groups since the launch of their site in 2002. 

Dawn Channon – works in the library at HMP Bullingdon.

Casi Dylan - is the Training Manager for The Reader Organisation, a charity dedicated to bringing about a Reading Revolution by making it possible for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy and engage with great literature on a deep and personal level. Get Into Reading is our pioneering social outreach project, in which we offer weekly read-aloud reading groups for everyone: from those who wouldn't usually pick up a book to keen readers. The groups aim to improve wellbeing, build community and extend reading pleasure. 

Irene Haynes- runs the influential independent website for reading groups  with Clare Chandler and  the help of a small team of readers and reviewers, who are all members of reading groups. Together they have a wealth experience and have been giving advice to reading groups since the launch of their site in 2002. 

Alison Malins – works in the library at HMP Bullingdon.

Kate Philippsan expert in children's reading, she has been a bookseller for many years and is now Head of Children's Books for the South-East region of a major bookshop chain, which keeps her in touch with children's different reading needs and interests over a wide geographical area.

Guy Pringle - editor of newbooks magazine. After more than twenty years in publishing, Guy felt he was owed a mid-life crisis and left HarperCollins in 2000, to publish newbooks - the ever-popular magazine for readers and reading groups. Not satisfied with that, he subsequently staged a series of newbooks Readers Days and Readers Weekends and launched tBkmag (for 8-12 year olds) in association with Peters Library Services. 

His latest venture is a reading retreat near Dinan in Brittany.
He is a member of two reading groups in Winchester and, yes, he is the only man in both!

Sarah Turvey teaches English at Roehampton University. She is also a Fellow of Crucible, the University's centre for teaching and research into human rights and social justice. She has been organising and running prison reading groups since 2000.  Her teaching interests include nineteenth-century American literature, twentieth-century literature of the American South, and the short story. 

Zool Verjee - an experienced bookseller who works in the world-famous Blackwell Bookshop on Broad Street, Oxford. He has considerable insight into the role booksellers play in readers’ lives and his specialist knowledge of English literature has been at the disposal of countless customers over many years. 

Kate Wilson – is chair of the Books on the Broad reading group - for which she edits an e-newsletter - and coordinator of The Readers' Voice convention. She is an avid reader who admits to 'catching up' with English literature over the last few years.