Goldsmiths academic honoured by Royal Society of Literature

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An academic from Goldsmiths, University of London, has been appointed an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature (RSL), for her contribution to the advancement of literature in the UK.

Deirdre signing her name in the RSL roll book using Jean Rhys's pen

Deirdre signing her name in the RSL roll book. Photo: Adrian Pope and The Royal Society of Literature

Dr Deirdre Osborne, a Reader in English Literature and Drama and co-founder of the MA Black British Literature at Goldsmiths, was announced as an Honorary Fellow by the RSL, at an event held at Battersea Arts Centre on Tuesday 12 July.

Deirdre said: “It was surreal to be in the orbit of writers whose work I have championed for so long - who are integral to the MA Black British Literature, the public events I have curated, the scholarship I have written and the curriculum I have created. This honour validates the purpose of my career and my unswerving belief that literature is a lifeline for us all.” 

Deirdre's research focuses on highlighting the marginalised voices of disenfranchised and dispossessed groups in fiction, drama, life-writing and poetry from the period of the Victorian era through to contemporary culture. She is co-author of the recent book This is the Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelves in 50 Books, which celebrates great novels from around the world and challenges fiction lovers to expand their ideas about what should be considered the ‘classics’ of literature.

The Goldsmiths academic was one of 60 new fellows elected to the RSL. Deirdre was recognised alongside musician Nick Cave, Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh and I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel.

Writer Bernardine Evaristo, RSL President and Goldsmiths alumnus, delivered an address at the event, saying: “Storytelling is at the heart of who we are as humans – it is how we understand, contextualise, mirror, examine, challenge, entertain and imagine life from multiple experiences and perspectives. We all deserve to be active and equal participants in the production and consumption of literature that is as wide-ranging as ourselves.”

Elected and Honorary Fellows were invited to sign their names in the RSL roll book, which dates back to 1825, using one of the charity’s pens from historically influential UK writers. Deirdre signed the roll with Jean Rhys CBE’s pen, which was used for the first time this year.

Full details of all the Fellows and Honorary Fellows for 2022 are available on the RSL website.