Lord Adonis is chair of the National Infrastructure Commission and a Labour peer. He was previously an adviser to Tony Blair, heading the Policy Unit from 2001 to 2005. After joining the Lords, he became Minister of State for Education, and then Transport, before joining the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Transport. Before his political career, he was a journalist at The Observer and the Financial Times. He is an avid reader and writer, having published books on: his mission reforming the state education system, the aristocratic system in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century, and the post-2010 election coalition negotiations.
Julian is the Richard Titmuss Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, a post he has held since 1993. Between 2003 and 200, he was a senior Policy Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Julian is a Founding Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and a Trustee of the Kings Fund. In 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate (D.Litt) by the University of Sussex. In 2007 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is currently chairman of Health England. Julian is the author, co-author or editor of eighteen books, the author of over 100 articles and writes regularly for the national and international press.
Claire leads communications and influencing for JRF and JRHT. She leads work on understanding the social and political attitudes of people in poverty, and chaired the task group of the anti poverty strategy. Prior to joining in November 2013, Claire worked in public affairs and communications in the public and voluntary sectors, and for the UK’s largest trade union. Claire has a BA in Politics from the University of York and a MSc in Global Politics from the University of London. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association and part of their Communications and Engagement Advisory Group.
Alan is a former BBC researcher, reporter and special correspondent. He joined the BBC in 1983, and reported for Radio 4’s Today Programme. He is the co-author of the acclaimed book The Death of Yugoslavia. Alan has reported for Baghdad, Kuwait, the former Yugoslavia, Johannesburg and Moscow. In 2014, Alan led the BBC’s coverage of the Scottish independence referendum. Alan is chair of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and has won several awards including a Sony Documentary Gold Award in 2000.
Bonnie is a distinguished playwright, novelist and critic. She was Arts Council playwright in residence at the Soho Theatre and has written many plays for radio and the stage and an opera, Yes, written for the Royal Opera House. She is the author of two novels, Hanging by Her Teeth and Entropy, and three works of non-fiction, Obama Music, Langston Hughes: The Value of Contradiction and A Parallel Life. She contributes to The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. Bonnie has appeared as a panellist on Newsnight Review and Question Time and has been a trustee of the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the London Film School. Bonnie is Chancellor of Kingston University. Bonnie was awarded an OBE in 2010.
Liz was formerly a journalist on the Tehran Journal, the Hampstead and Highgate Express, the Evening Standard and the Guardian. She moved to television at the start of Channel 4 where she became director of Programmes. She joined the BBC as Managing Director BBC Network Radio in 1993. She is Chair of the Scott Trust and of the National youth Orchestra and Deputy Chair of the British Museum. She was formerly Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council, a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group and a non-executive member of the Department for Culture Media and Sport. She is a Patron of St Giles Trust, the National Churches Trust and the Pier Art Gallery, Stromness. She was made DBE in 2006 for services to heritage and broadcasting. She is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, St Hugh’s College Oxford and Girton College Cambridge. She took up the role of Chair at Bristol Old Vic in May 2013.
Samira is a freelance journalist, writer and broadcaster. She is the Presenter of BBC1’s Newswatch and BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. She has reported for the BBC and Channel 4, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and Rhe Spectator. In 2009, Samira won the Stonewall Broadcast of the Year Award. Since 2011, Samira has been a visiting Professor of Journalism at Kingston University. She is an occasional panellist on The News Quiz and a trustee of Action for Stammering Children.
Mark is a novelist and cultural critic. He has published four novels including Idlewild, Going Out Live and Enough Is Enough. His latest book is The Allegations. His work as a broadcaster includes presenting Radio 4’s Front Row and Foreign Bodies – A History of Crime Fiction and BBC4’s ‘Mark Lawson Talks to…’ He also writes for The Guardian and The New Statesman.
Erica is a writer and critic. She is the author of Gravity, Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters and Seizure. Her poems appear in the Times Literary Supplement and she reviews regularly for The New York Times. Erica was literary editor of The Times between 1996 and 2013 and judged the Man Booker Prize in 2002 and 2014. She has also been a judge for the Orange Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Wellcome Book Prize and the Forward Prize.
Jonathan is a journalist and the Executive Comment Editor at the Financial Times. He was previously the Managing Editor at Prospect, Culture Editor at the New Statesman. He has written for the Daily Telepraph, The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. In 2007 he edited Time Out: 1000 Books to change your life. Jonathan also taught Philosophy at several British universities. In 2016 he was a judge for the Bailee Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.
Francis is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. He has written for The Guardian, the Evening Standard and Private Eye and is the author of several books. His book, Hoo-hahs and Passing Frenzies: Collected Journalism 1991 – 2001 won the Orwell Prize in 2003. His biography of Karl Marx won the Deutscher Memorial Prize in 1999. Francis is a regular panellist on The News Quiz and Have I Got News For You.
Jean Seaton is Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster, the official historian of the BBC and took over the Orwell Prize as Director in 2007. She has written on the history and role of the media in politics, wars, revolutions, religion and childhood, including Power Without Responsibility: the Press and Broadcasting in Britain (with James Curran) and Carnage and the Media: The Making and Breaking of News about Violence, as well as (with John Lloyd)What Can Be Done? Making the Media and Politics Better. She is on the board of the Political Quarterly and Full Fact.
Victoria Glendinning is a freelance writer, well-known for her successful biographies and novels. She also writes reviews and articles, and does broadcasts and talks on all kinds of subjects.
Her biographies include A Suppressed Cry: Life and Death of a Quaker Daughter; Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer; Vita: the Life of V.Sackville-West (winner of the Whitbread Prize for Biography); Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn Among Lions (winner of the Duff Cooper Prize and the James Tait Black Prize); Anthony Trollope (another Whitbread Prize for Biography). Her novels include The Grown-Ups, Electricity and Flight.
Victoria has been President of English PEN and a Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature, and although she has never had an academic post she has four honorary doctorates.
Andrew O’Hagan was born in Glasgow in 1968. He is an award-winning novelist and a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and Granta magazine. In his acclaimed first book, The Missing, O’Hagan wrote about his own childhood and told the stories of parents whose children had disappeared. The book was shortlisted for the Esquire Award, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award, and the McVities Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year award. Part of the book was adapted for radio and television as Calling Bible John and won a BAFTA award.
Our Fathers, his first novel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. Personality, about a 13-year-old girl with a beautiful singing voice growing up above a chip shop on the Scottish island of Bute and making ready to realise her family’s dream of fame, won the 2003 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction). In 2003 Andrew O’Hagan was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’. In 2004 he edited The Weekenders: Adventures in Calcutta, a collection of various writers’ accounts of Kolkata.
Blake Morrison is an award-winning writer, poet and journalist. He began his career working for the Times Literary Supplement, before serving as literary editor for The Observer and the Independent on Sunday. Blake writes across genres in the form of poetry, journalism, novel and memoir.
For his writing he has won the Eric Gregory Award, the Dylan Thomas Award, Somerset Maugham Award for Dark Glasses, E. M. Forster Award, Esquire/Volvo/Waterstone’s Non-Fiction and the JR Ackerley Prize for Autobiography for his memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? The book was subsequently made into a feature film starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth. His most famous works include the narrative poem The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper, an investigation into the Jamie Bulger case As if and most recently The Last Weekend. Blake is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, former chair of the Poetry Book Society, vice-chair of PEN and a member of the Orwell Trust. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Lynne Truss began her writing life as a literary journalist, editing the books section of The Listener magazine between 1986 and 1990. Since then she has kept a high profile as a journalist, writing for The Times as a critic, columnist and sportswriter (shortlisted for Sportswriter of the Year 1997); for Woman’s Journal(“Columnist of the Year”, 1996); and more recently as a critic for the Daily Mailand The Sunday Times, where she is a regular book reviewer. She has published six books, including three novels, With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed, Tennyson’s Gift and Going Loco. Her book on punctuation, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, was the publishing phenomenon of 2003.
She has also written many scripts for BBC Radio 4, including dramas, sitcoms and talks. She appears regularly on the network presenting features and taking part in discussions. Two series of her comedy series Acropolis Now have so far been broadcast (starring Stephen Moore, Robert Hardy, Imelda Staunton); also a six part series of monologues A Certain Age, and an innovative six-part series of dialogues Full Circle, starring Claire Skinner, Phyllis Logan, Michael Maloney, Phil Davis and Sheila Hancock.
Suzanne is an award-winning journalist, currently writing for The Guardian and the Mail on Sunday. She has previously written for Marxism Today, The Independent and the New Statesman (where she was contributing editor). She stood as an independent during the 2010 General Election, for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.
Joan is a star broadcaster and writer as well as a Labour Party life peer. Working on several programmes Joan has interviewed literary greats including Alan Ginsberg and regularly contributes opinion to many national press outlets. Joan was appointed CBE in 1999 and promoted to DBE in 2008. She is the author of several books including The View from Here: Life at Seventy and her autobiography The Centre of the Bed. Her latest book is She’s Leaving Home. Between 2008 and 2010 Joan acted as a Voice of Older People.