Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks

"A marvellously exciting venture, bringing together the worlds of experimentalism and performance, always looking for new ways to present the spoken and written word in a time of artistic flux. The mainstream will, in the future, be redefined and enriched by companies like Penned in the Margins."

Ian McMillan, poet and broadcaster

Our story

From small beginnings as a reading series in a converted railway arch in south London, Penned in the Margins has grown over the last decade into a respected, award-winning literary arts company producing new work live, in print and online.

Penned in the Margins believes in the power of language to challenge how we think, test new ideas and explore alternative stories. We operate across the arts, collaborating with writers, artists and creative partners using new platforms and technologies.


A unique blend of publishing and production characterises our distinctive model in the cultural landscape. The hallmarks of a Penned in the Margins book or event are curiosity, innovation and openness. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do, bringing artists from different fields together to create innovative and invigorating new work. We have a history of developing new artists and writers, and have given important early opportunities to the likes of playwright Inua Ellams, novelist Joe Dunthorne, spoken word artist Scroobius Pip and poets Hannah Silva and Melissa Lee-Houghton.


Penned in the Margins has been a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England since 2015. We have been based in Artsadmin’s Toynbee Studios in London’s East End since 2010. Our books are represented by Inpress Books and distributed by NBN International. We are a member of STAMP, the network of London organisations supporting emerging theatre and performance makers.



Shortlisted, Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers 2017
Shortlisted, Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize 2017 | The Story of No by Emma Hammond
Shortlisted, Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize 2017 | Spacecraft by John McCullough
Longlisted, Green Carnation Prize | Spacecraft by John McCullough
Winner, Somerset Maugham Award 2017 | Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Shortlisted, Dylan Thomas Prize 2017 |Cain by Luke Kennard
Shortlisted, Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2016 | Sunshine
Shortlisted, Costa Poetry Prize 2016 | Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Winner, British Book Design & Production Awards 2016 | Cain by Luke Kennard
Shortlisted, Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2016 | Melissa Lee-Houghton
Shortlisted, East Anglian Book Awards 2016 | What I Learned from Johnny Bevan
Winner, Best Novella, Saboteur Awards 2016 | The Lost Art of Sinking by Naomi Booth
Winner, Best Spoken Word Show, Saboteur Awards 2016 | What I Learned from Johnny Bevan
Winner, Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year 2015 | The Good Dark by Ryan Van Winkle
Winner, Most Innovative Publisher, Saboteur Awards 2015
Longlisted, Medicine Unboxed Prize 2015 | The Hard Word Box by Sarah Hesketh
Shortlisted, Gordon Burn Prize 2015 | Midland by Honor Gavin
Next Generation Poet 2014 | Beautiful Girls by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Winner, Most Innovative Publisher, Saboteur Awards 2013
Shortlisted, Ted Hughes Award 2013 | Total Man by Hannah Silva
Longlisted, Guardian First Book Award 2013 | The Shipwrecked House by Claire Trévien
Recommendation, Poetry Book Society 2013 | Beautiful Girls by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Best Novella, Saboteur Awards 2013 | Holophin by Luke Kennard
Recommended Translation, Poetry Book Society 2013 | Beowulf by Meghan Purvis
Special Commendation, Poetry Book Society 2012 | Adventures in Form


Who we are

Tom Chivers

Tom is a writer, publisher and arts producer born in south London in 1983. His poetry releases include How To Build A City (Salt, 2009) and Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015). He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks (2009) and Edwin Morgan (2014) Prizes. Tom was co-Director of London Word Festival from its inception in 2008 until 2011, and was a recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award. He was a board member of the Poetry Book Society (2009-2013) and Inpress Books (2013-2017).


Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator (p/t)
Bex Shorunke

Bex is an arts, culture and music journalist, social media marketer and brand ambassador. Her work focuses on the social, political and cultural impact of contemporary visual, performance and mixed media artists. She’s contributed in a digital and print capacity for publications such as Timeout, Arts UK, Gal-Dem, Notion magazine and Crack magazine. In the process she’s worked with innovative arts and music organizations including AFROPUNK, Boy Blue Entertainment, BBZ, Notting Hill Carnival and Hot Brown Honeyz. Additionally, she represents different eco-friendly health conscious food and beverage brands at health food stores and wellbeing festivals throughout London, boosting sales whilst simultaneously educating people on healthy living.


Publicist (p/t)
Lily Blacksell

Lily is a poet who enjoys shouting about other people’s work just as much as she enjoys writing her own. She recently moved back to London from New York, where she studied and taught poetry at Columbia University. Her pamphlet There’s No Such Thing (ignitionpress) came out in February 2018. She can also be found working at the London Review Bookshop.


Creative Associate
Russell Bender

Russell is a theatre maker and director, and is Creative Associate of Penned in the Margins. He trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq. Credits as director include Darknet by Rose Lewenstein (Southwark Playhouse), Kiss of the Earth (UK tour), No Dogs, No Indians by Siddhartha Bose (Brighton Festival, Southbank Centre et al) and Game of Life by Rose Lewenstein (The Yard). Russell has developed work at BAC, Cambridge Junction and the National Theatre Studio. As staff/assistant director he has worked for the National Theatre and Complicite. He is artistic director of theatre and technology company Potential Difference.


Associate Producer
Nick Murray

Nick is a producer, composer, writer and sound artist. His body of work includes, site specific installation, score for film, literary festivals and theatrical production. Nick’s current projects include being the producer for Nua Dance, as well as composing the score for Nua Dance’s latest piece QUIMERA. Parallel to this, Nick’s research explores communicative loss and contemporary grief through current and outdated technology using interactive small-scale theatre, digital experiences and sonic installation.


Associate Artists
Siddhartha Bose, Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland


Advisory Board
Oliver Dawson, Rose Fenton, Rachel Long, Julia Payne, Ben Pygall, Aki Schilz

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22 Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London E1 6AB
United Kingdom

020 7375 0121

Book proposals

If you would like to propose a book for our publishing list please read these guidelines.

Working with us

We do not have any vacancies at present. Please note: we offer internships/work placements only in partnership with accredited higher education partners and do not accept individual applications.

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