literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Kit de Waal Presents the Common People Anthology

On International Workers’ Day, Kit de Waal chairs a discussion with Katy Massey and Anita Sethi on what it means to be working class in Britain today.

Massey and Sethi are contributors to the newly published Common People anthology, edited by novelist de Waal. The anthology brings together 33 writers, also including Malorie Blackman and Stuart Maconie, who have contributed essays, poems and memoir inviting you to share their experiences of growing up working class.

It is estimated that almost half of all authors, writers and translators in the UK come from professional, middle-class backgrounds, compared with just ten per cent of those with parents in routine or manual labour, and the average income for an author in 2017 was £10,500 – well below the minimum wage.

Written in celebration, not apology, this anthology gives voice to perspectives that are increasingly absent from our books and newspapers. Common People ensures they are heard loud and clear.

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law and has written training manuals on adoption, foster care and judgecraft for members of the judiciary. She has published two novels, My Name is Leon and The Trick to Time, and her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015, the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014 and the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year.

Katy Massey worked as a freelance journalist in London before, suffering from burnout, she returned to education, culminating in a self-funded PhD in creative writing. She edited Tangled Roots, an anthology of memoir by more than 30 members of mixed-race families, exploring their experiences, history and contribution to British society, and is currently developing Who Are We Now?, a collection of memoir responses to the Brexit referendum and a post-European future. She is working on The Cleansing, a novel imagining post-Grenfell London after a large-scale attack.

Anita Sethi was born and grew up in Manchester and is an award-winning journalist, writer and critic. She has been published in anthologies including Seasons nature writing anthology, edited by Melissa Harrison, Roads Ahead and The Good Journal, edited by Nikesh Shukla. She has also written for the publications including The Guardian, Sunday Times and New Statesman. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, Front Row and Today programmes. She is a judge of the British Book Awards, Society of Authors Awards and Costa Book Awards.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Royal Festival Hall
Level 5 Function Room, Green Side


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


25% off (limited availability)
Find out more about our Concessions policy

need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+