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 January 2023 we are on indefinite hiatus from publishing or producing new work.

Penned in the Margins began in 2004 as a series of poetry events in a converted railway arch in Herne Hill, South London. Our first book, Generation Txt, was published in 2006 and featured six up-and-coming poets including future best-selling novelist Joe Dunthorne and award-winning playwright Inua Ellams. The group subsequently toured a stage show to 14 venues across England.

Since then, we have published over 90 titles of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and criticism. Our authors include major names in contemporary poetry such as Raymond Antrobus, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, Luke Kennard, Gail McConnell, John McCullough, Rebecca Tamás and Luke Wright, as well as prose writers who take a fresh look at the world and our place within it, including Justin Hopper, Abi Palmer, Amber Massie-Blomfield, and Khaled Nurul Hakim. Penned in the Margins books have won or been shortlisted for over 50 literary awards including the Rathbones Folio Award, the Forward Prizes, the TS Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Costa Book Awards and a British Book Design and Production Award. Our last two publications were released in autumn 2022: Improvised Explosive Device by poet Arji Manuelpillai and Meryl Pugh’s non-fiction debut Feral Borough.

Our pioneering performance work includes solo shows by Hannah Silva, Siddhartha Bose, Ross Sutherland, Caroline Bergvall and Antosh Wojcik, and the landmark productions Fair Field (2017) – a theatrical re-imagining of the medieval poem Piers Plowman, which featured on BBC Two’s Art That Made Us in 2021. Our projects have reached audiences across the UK and internationally in both traditional arts venues and unconventional spaces – from London’s Victorian cemeteries and an RSPB nature reserve in Teesside to the top of the Malvern Hills. Penned in the Margins has been based in Toynbee Studios in London’s East End since 2010, and was a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England from 2015 to 2023. Our books are represented by Inpress Books and distributed by IPS.

Read our story

Who we are

Director Tom Chivers

Tom is a writer, publisher and arts producer. 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). His non-fiction debut London Clay (Doubleday, 2021) was audiobook of the week in the Times.

Associate Producer Nick Murray

Nick is a producer, composer, writer and sound artist. His body of work includes site specific installation, film scores and theatrical production. Nick's practice explores communicative loss and contemporary grief through current and outdated technology using interactive small-scale theatre, digital experiences and sonic installation.

Creative Associate Russell Bender

Russell is a theatre maker and director. 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 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 Artists
Siddhartha Bose, Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland
Advisory Board
Annette Brook, Jess Chandler, Hannah Hood, Julia Payne, Ben Pygall, Aki Schilz, Doug Wallace


Our work regularly wins, or is shortlisted for, accolades including the Ted Hughes Award, the Rathbones Folio Prize, the Costa Book Awards and the Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2017 Penned in the Margins was shortlisted for the inaugural Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers.


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

020 7375 0121

Book proposals

We are currently closed to all new proposals.

Working with us

We do not have any vacancies at present.

Please note: we do not offer internships/work placements.

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