Fiona Sampson

Sunday 25th - 14.30


The Victoria Whitworth Lecture: Victoria Faulkner opened the Red Lion Bookshop, now The Madhatter Bookshop, in the early 1980s and ran it for twenty-five years. Even when the on-line giants appeared on the scene, the Red Lion remained the go-to destination for all serious readers in Burford and beyond. Victoria was a dedicated and passionate reader, with interests ranging widely across all topics and genres. From the young to the old, from the bookworm to the reluctant reader, she could advise and inspire anyone who came into the shop with her infectious knowledge, good humour and enthusiasm. The joy of reading and the written word is what the Red Lion Bookshop was all about, and Victoria’s passion for literature and her innate ability to create a magical and inspiring place has carried through to The Madhatter Bookshop today. We are delighted to remember her and her devotion to the indie bookshop with the The Victoria Whitworth Lecture.

Fiona Sampson has been published in thirty-seven languages and has just received two major European prizes: the Naim Frasheri Laureateship 2019 and the European Lyric Atlas Prize 2020. She has also received the Zlaten Prsten (Macedonia), the Charles Angoff Award (US), the 2016 Slovo Podgrmec Prize and the 2015 Povelji za međunarodnu saradnju Award (Bosnia) and the Aark Arts International Poetry Prize (India), and been shortlisted for the Evelyn Encelot Prize for European Women Poets. She received an MBE for services to literature in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, 2017. Sampson is a Fellow and former Council Member of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the English Association, the Higher Education Association and the Wordsworth Trust, and the Patron of the Anglo-Russian Cultural Institute and of Living Words. Her publications include twenty-nine volumes of poetry, literary non-fiction and criticism; she has also co-translated four volumes of poetry and developed a specialism in contemporary poetry in translation. She has received the Newdigate Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, a Hawthornden Fellowship, Kathleen Blundell and Oppenheimer-John Downes Awards from the Society of Authors, a number of Writer’s Awards from both the English and the Welsh Arts Councils, and various Poetry Book Society commendations, and has been shortlisted twice for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prizes. A prolific broadcaster and critic, Fiona Sampson has held a number of international writing fellowships, and serves regularly on international juries. Earlier, she pioneered writing in heath care in the UK, and directed an international poetry festival in Wales for five years before becoming Director of the Stephen Spender Memorial Trust for literary translation. Her study of musical form in poetry, Lyric Cousins, and her latest collection The Catch (Penguin Random House), both appeared in 2016. She recently completed work on an AHRC-funded research project looking at poet to poet trio translation, and wrote a libretto for the composer Philip Grange as part of the AHRC-funded OWRI initiative. Among Sampson’s recent books, the Spectator called her exploration of Limestone Country (2017) ‘bewitching’, and it was a Guardian Book of the Year and a Telegraph and Evening Standard Pick of the Summer. Her critically acclaimed biography, In Search of Mary Shelley (2018), has appeared in US, Italian and Spanish editions. It was a BBC R4 Book of the Week, Guardian, Daily Mail, Spectator and Idler Book of the Week, Evening Standard London nonfiction bestseller and W.H. Smiths bestseller, Sunday Times Must Read, Observer, Independent and FT Pick for 2018, Times and FT Pick of the Summer, Times, Sunday Times and Mail Paperback Pick, Times Literary Non-fiction Book of the Year, and shortlisted for the Biographers’ Club Best First Biography Award.