Private Lives: Legal tools for writing biography and memoir

Location: Free Word, London
Address: 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA
Event time: 5-6pm
Join us for a pre-PEN Ackerley Prize talk on ‘Privacy and Memoir’, held in conjunction with English PEN.

Event details

What are the practical, ethical and legal considerations of writing biography and memoir?

Join us for a pre-PEN Ackerley Prize talk on ‘Privacy and Memoir’, held in conjunction with English PEN. Award-winning writer and investigative journalist Katharine Quarmby,  award-winning author Blake Morrison (And When Did You Last See Your Father?) and SoA Chief Executive Nicola Solomon, will discuss this topic, considering defamation, privacy, copyright and dealing with the sensitivities of subjects, surviving relatives and owners of estates.

Come along to gain a fascinating insight into the mechanics of biography and memoir and hear the panel answer your burning questions.

This talk will be followed by an event with this year’s shortlisted authors of the 2019 PEN Ackerley Prize who will read from and discuss their books with chair of the Ackerley Prize judges, Peter Parker, ahead of the announcement of this year’s winner.

  • 5pm: Registration/tea and coffee
  • 5.30pm: Talk
  • 6.10pm: Q&A
  • 6.30pm: Drinks and networking
  • 7pm: Ackerley Prize


Tickets are £5 via English Pen. Click here to book. | Limited £10 tickets will be available, which includes both talks and the Ackerley Prize event.

Meet the panellists

Blake Morrison is a poet, novelist and the author of two bestselling memoirs, And When Did You Last See Your Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me. His novel The Last Weekend was adapted for television and his recent novel, The Executor, explored issues around publishing, ethics and consent. He is Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths University, London.

Katharine Quarmby is an award-winning writer and investigative journalist. She has written a short memoir about the search for her Iranian birth father (Blood and Water, Kindle Single, 2013), a book chapter about her mother coming to the UK from post-war Yugoslavia as a refugee ('Becoming English' in A Country of Refuge, Unbound, 2016), and a lightly fictionalised account of her Serbian family's connection to the plot to murder Archduke Franz Ferdinand (The Priest, the Assassin, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Kindle/Thistle, 2014).  

Nicola Solomon is Chief Executive at the SoA and also manages its associated charities. Her role includes promoting authors' interests in negotiations/disputes with publishers and agents, campaigning for authors’ rights and directing funds that help authors buy time to write. Nicola has an in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry and the many associated legal areas, from copyright and defamation, to contract and charity law. She is a solicitor and Deputy District Judge, and Director of Literary and Dramatic Works at the British Copyright Council as well as a committee member of the International Authors Forum.

For any enquiries, please contact Sophia Jackson at the Society of Authors, on