The Royal Society of Literature has elected Marina Warner as its first female president.
Succeeding Colin Thubron, Warner has been elected the RSL’s 19th president. She will be president elect until the election is ratified at the RSL’s AGM of Fellows on 19th June 2017.
Warner said: "It is a huge honour and a great surprise to become president of the RSL. Literature has been my life – reading, writing, listening. I believe it matters to all of us, as individuals and in our relations with one another, now and stretching back into the past. Literature is storytelling and argument, thinking and remembering, entertainment and consolation; it’s a memory bank and a tool kit for discoveries of all kinds. Novels, plays, poems - writing in every genre - multiply the places where inquiry, dissent, passion, dream, hope, laughter, reflection, surprises and visions can happen.
"These are strange, uneasy times. Ursula LeGuin is right when she says, ‘Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.’ The RSL has been committed ever since it was founded in 1820 to furthering the making, reading, discussion and enjoyment of literature in all its variety. I am proud - and touched - to become the first woman to be entrusted with the presidency. Literature matters, now more than ever."
Warner is a novelist, short-story writer, historian and mythographer. She is known for her many non-fiction books relating to feminism, myth and fairy tales. Her books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (Vintage) and Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (Univeristy of California Press).
Chair of the RSL, Lisa Appignanesi, said: "It is both an honour and a delight to have the great Marina Warner take on the mantle of the RSL Presidency. She is a woman of resonant imagination and intelligence, as well as a writer of the highest distinction. I know she will guide the RSL to new heights as we move towards our bicentenary in 2020."