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Royal Society of Literature recruits UK’s younger playwrights in diversity drive

Clockwise from top left: new Royal Society of Literature fellows Inua Ellams, Lucy Prebble, Polly Stenham, Ella Hickson, Bola Agbaje and James Graham. Photos: Oliver Holms, Robert Fuller and Richard Davenport Clockwise from top left: New Royal Society of Literature fellows Inua Ellams, Lucy Prebble, Polly Stenham, Ella Hickson, Bola Agbaje and James Graham. Photographers include: Oliver Holms, Robert Fuller and Richard Davenport
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Playwrights including Inua Ellams, Lucy Prebble, Polly Stenham and James Graham have been made fellows of the Royal Society of Literature as part of a drive to celebrate Britain’s younger writers.

The RSL has elected 40 new fellows – all of whom are under the age of 40 – to honour the achievements of a younger generation of writers and improve the society’s diversity.

Prior to this, the average age of a fellow, of which there are more than 500, was 70.

The list includes poets, novelists, non-fiction writers and theatre writers.

Playwrights, who make up a quarter of the new fellows, include Bola Agbaje, Ella Hickson, Robert Icke, Lucy Kirkwood and Sabrina Mahfouz.

Mahfouz described it as “an incredible honour that I will treasure forever and use to support others who wish to write”.

Lucy Caldwell, Barney Norris and Vinay Patel are also among the new fellows.

They were chosen by a panel of existing RSL members, with recommendations and writing samples submitted by agents, publishers, theatres and other writers.

Novelist Kamila Shamsie chaired the nominating panel, which also included playwrights David Hare and Helen Edmundson, novelists Ali Smith and Sarah Waters, and poet Blake Morrison.

Hare said: “There is a marked renaissance in British theatre writing, coming from the young, from women and from a diversity of backgrounds. The Royal Society of Literature is right to recognise both the vitality of the medium and its new character.”

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