The Author as Activist: Literature, Politics, and Celebrity

What do such diverse authors as Benjamin Disraeli, Bernardine Evaristo, and Salman Rushdie have in common? They form part of long tradition of Anglophone writers who have made use of their public profiles to stage powerful political interventions. Where celebrities from the fields of performing arts and entertainment have earned criticism and ridicule for their forays into political activism, eminent writers have often been hailed as moral compasses, voices of reason, and prophetic insight.

This project, funded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund as part of its Elise Richter programme, takes a historical perspective on the cultural authority of the writer as a tool of socio-political activism. Through selected case studies from the British context, covering a time period from the nineteenth century to the present, it reveals how this authority emerges from the interplay of literature, politics, media and celebrity cultures.


Project Duration

1 October 2022 ­– 28 February 2026



Sandra Mayer


Project partner

Oxford Centre for Life-Writing



Sandra Mayer's Website