Somerville has always attracted budding writers. As a consequence, the roll-call of influential writers produced by Somerville is a long one, which includes poets, novelists, biographers, playwrights and leading authors of both children’s and Young Adult literature.

Somerville novelists and poets

Famous novelists who studied at Somerville include Dorothy L. Sayers, Vera Brittain, Penelope Fitzgerald, Winifred Holtby, Iris Murdoch, Rose Macaulay, Margaret Kennedy, Margaret Forster, Christine Brooke-Rose, A. S. Byatt, Jane Aiken Hodge, Michele Roberts, Maggie Gee, Liz Jensen, Francesca Kay and Kate Williams. The poet Elma Mitchell was also an undergraduate here in 1938-194, and we can count award-winning biographers Victoria Glendinning and Hilary Spurling amongst our alumni. Social historian and biographer Jane Robinson is a Senior Associate of the College and can often be found in the Somerville Library. 

Some recent Somervillians to find themselves in the literary spotlight for their outstanding debuts in fiction and drama are Elizabeth Macneal (2007, English), for her first novel The Doll Factory, Ella Road (2010, English), whose debut play The Phlebotomist was nominated in both the 2019 Olivier Awards and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and Daisy Johnson (2012, MSt Creative Writing), author of Fen (2017) and the Man Booker shortlisted Everything Under (2018). 

Children’s literature

Many of the leading writers of Children’s literature are graduates of Somerville, from Constance Savery, Nina Bawden and Lucy M. Boston to Gillian Cross, Kathy Henderson and Susan Cooper and, more recently, Matthew Skelton and Frances Hardinge.

We hope to keep adding lots of new writers (including a few more men) to the list.

Acclaimed Books by Somerville Authors