The launch of the inaugural European Writers’ Festival, celebrating the best European prose and poetry in English translation, is set to take place at the British Library.

Taking place on 20th and 21st May, the festival is organised by the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) London in partnership with the European Literature Network and the British Library, with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom and the European Parliament Liaison Office in the United Kingdom.

The European Writers’ Festival is curated by former BBC journalist Rosie Goldsmith, director of the European Literature Network and editor-in-chief of the Riveter magazines.

It will see “many of Europe’s greatest storytellers gather together for one remarkable, unmissable weekend, to perform and debate the literature and big ideas defining their countries and Europe today.”

Hailing from over 29 countries, the line-up includes the T S Eliot-shortlisted, British-born Cypriot poet Anthony Anaxagorou, bestselling Czech author and playwright Kateřina Tučková, award-winning Scottish journalist Chitra Ramaswamy, Brazilian-born Hungarian novelist Zsófia Bán, Bulgarian poet and novelist Georgi Gospodinov and Ingeborg-Bachmann Prize-winning Austrian novelist Raphaela Edelbauer.

Panels and performances will take place over the two days, each with different authors and different themes, from Writing about History to Freedom, Language and War. After each panel there will be readings and performances from each participating writer, as well as book signings in association with retailer South Kensington Books. All events will be in English.

A dedicated bookshop will be on site, and a full list of participating writers, panels and readings will soon be available on the British Library website.

The panels will be chaired by Rosie Goldsmith, festival curator and journalist; Tahmima Anam, author of The Startup Wife (Canongate); BBC Radio 4 Open Book presenter Chris Power; journalist Claire Armitstead; writer and translator Daniel Hahn; and the British Library’s Bee Rowlatt.

Mathias Rambaud, attaché for books and ideas, Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, and co-president of EUNIC London, said: “We at EUNIC London advocate a prominent role of culture in international relations. In a post-Brexit context, it seems even more important to create the conditions for a new cultural dialogue crossing European and British perspectives in the UK. Therefore, we are very proud to bring 29 writers from all over Europe to meet their British audience for engaging discussions on current topics. We hope to attract all the curious minds of a rich and diverse literature in a true spirit of multicultural exchange and to strengthen the place of translated literature in the UK publishing market. Long live the European Writers’ Festival!”

Goldsmith, artistic director of the European Literature Network, said: “The European Writers Festival is both personally and professionally a dream come true. For this very first EWF to be held at such an important venue as the British Library, to be supported by the leading European arts umbrella, EUNIC London, and for us to be hosting so many great writers from all over Europe makes my heart soar. This is just the festival we need after the isolation of Covid and Brexit, and I can’t wait for us all to gather together to discuss literature, translation and ideas; to foster new relations with the European mainland and to nourish older ones. Ever since my first job, at the BBC in 1989, reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall for its new European current affairs programme ’Eurofile’, I’ve been motivated by nurturing UK-European relations. I chaired the annual European Literature Night for nearly a decade at the British Library, I founded the European Literature Network and Riveter magazines to promote European literature and languages in the UK, and now we are holding the first European Writers’ Festival—so you can imagine how incredibly thrilled and proud I am.”

 Tickets for the event will be on sale from 9th March.