Participants of the seminar in 2018 ©

Sveta Mishina

The Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow and Yasnaya Polyana, the Estate Museum of Leo Tolstoy, collaborated again to organize the 4th annual British Literature Today Seminar which took place at Yasnaya Polyana on 18-21 July 2019

The seminar was first held in 2016 as part of the UK-Russia Year of language and literature. Click on the following links for videos about the seminar in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

This year’s seminar was part of the UK-Russia Year of Music. It explored the deep and rich connections between literature and music, as two art forms that inspire, influence and nourish each other. 

During a programme of ‘in conversation’ sessions, panel discussions and practical seminars, the participants explored the intersection of music and literature, including music journalism and non-fiction, biography, and interdisciplinary work uniting music and text, including libretti. Special attention was be paid to poetry – page, performance and song – with poets whose work is connected with music. The participants also examined music in fiction, as a creative influence for authors, a structural or rhetorical device, and a means of codifying aesthetic or political values. 

The seminar brought together six noteworthy British authors and fifty Russian participants with a professional interest in publishing, translation, creative writing, literary criticism, academic studies, journalism, musicology or cross-disciplinary work.

The programme included each of the British authors in conversation with the chair, panel discussions and practical sessions, as well as a guided tour around the Yasnaya Polyana estate and a social programme. 

Moderator of discussion – Yury Saprykin.

The British authors

Lavinia Greenlaw (chair) – the acclaimed poet and sound artist is the author of The Importance of Music to Girls, a memoir of punk, disco, country-dancing and piano-playing. Her musical works include the opera Peter Pan (Royal Opera House, Komische Oper Berlin) and the song cycle Slow Passage, Low Prospect (Aldeburgh Festival). Her sound work, Audio Obscura, won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award. She is also Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Read more

Jay Bernard – interdisciplinary artist and writer, winner of the 2018 Ted Hughes Award, author of poetry collection Surge, maker of short film Something Said, programmer at BFI Flare, archivist at Mayday Rooms and resident artist at Raven Row. Read more

Diana Evans – author of Ordinary People, The Wonder and 26a, nominee for the Guardian and Commonwealth Best First Book awards and winner of Orange Award for New Writers, former dancer, currently a journalist, critic and associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Read more

David Keenan – Irish writer, rock critic and musician, author of five novels including England's Hidden Reverse (biography of Coil, Current 93 and Nurse With Wound) and This Is Memorial Device (fictional portrait of the early-80s post-punk era) and regular contributor to The Wire magazine. Read more

Fiona Maddocks – author of Music for Life, Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks - A Conversation Diary, Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age, classical music critic for The Observer newspaper. Read more

Glyn Maxwell – poet, playwright, novelist, librettist and critic, winner of Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for The Nerve poetry collection, author of On Poetry and Drinks with Dead Poets. His plays are staged at Shakespeare’s Globe and the Almeida and his opera libretti include The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Seven Angels, The Lion’s Face and Nothing staged at the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne. Read more

Conditions of participation

Selected participants will need to pay a registration fee of 10,000 (ten thousand) roubles for those who come for the first time and 9,000 (nine thousand) roubles for those who have participated in one or more previous seminars. This fee covers the full seminar programme and materials, return transfers from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana, accommodation in twin rooms at Yasnaya Polyana for three nights from 18 to 21 July, a welcome reception and three meals a day plus coffee breaks.

Participants travelling via Moscow from other cities will need to pay for their own travel to Moscow and accommodation in Moscow.

The seminar was held in English without translation. It lasted three days with arrival at Yasnaya Polyana on 18 July in the afternoon and departure on 21 July in the morning. There was also a number of public events for a wider audience in Moscow, as well as at Yasnaya Polyana.

The number of participants in the seminar was limited and participants will be selected on the basis of their applications. 

For more information, please contact Lidia Khesed at or on + 7 903 135 45 27.