Penned in the Margins | About us

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).


Lily Blacksell


Publishing & Projects Intern
Madeleine Elliott


Creative Associate
Russell Bender


Associate Producer
Nick Murray


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 are currently recruiting for a part-time Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator. Deadline Friday 3 August 2018, 5pm. Find out more.

Please note: we offer internships/work placements only in partnership with accredited higher education institutions.

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