British Literature Today: the inaugural British Council Literature Seminar
15-18 September 2016, Yasnaya Polyana

The British Council, in partnership with the Yasnaya Polyana museum – the estate museum of Leo Tolstoy – announces an open call for applications to attend the inaugural residential seminar in Russia devoted to contemporary British literature.
We welcome applications from Russian academics and all those interested in improving their professional knowledge of English literature, authorial practice and literary trends from the United Kingdom.

As the Russian educational system becomes internationalised and increasingly competitive, Russian academics, researchers and senior high school teachers may benefit from this informative seminar, which takes place 15–18 September 2016 at Yasnaya Polyana, near Tula.
Apply until the 21st of August.

The British Council Literature Seminar, established in Germany by Malcolm Bradbury in 1986, was developed to bring together academics, publishers, translators and other creative professionals to discuss contemporary writing with UK authors from diverse backgrounds. Previous speakers have included Ian McEwan, Graham Swift, Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Jeanette Winterson, Tim Parks, David Nicholls and John Burnside. A regular fixture in the German literary calendar, it is the British Council’s largest and longest-running annual literature seminar outside the UK.

Those who wish to refresh their knowledge of English literature and establish professional international connections in the field should apply. Hoping to encourage intense discussion, both formal and informal, the programme of events aims to create an open and comfortable environment in which British writers, their Russian peers and participants can all contribute. Each writer will be available for interview, will give readings from their work and will contribute to panel discussions and workshops with attendees.


We are proud to announce that the British participants include:

  • Nicola Barker, author of thirteen books, including The Yips (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), Darkmans (shortlisted for the Booker, the Ondaatje, and winner of the Hawthorndon Prize), and Wide Open (winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award);
  • Charlotte Mendelson, author of four critically acclaimed novels and winner of many literary prizes including the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and Somerset Maugham Award. In 2007 Charlotte was named one of Waterstone's 25 authors of the future;
  • Award-winning novelist Sunjeev Sahota, whose second book, The Year of the Runaways, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. He was named one of Granta’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ in 2013;
  • Owen Sheers, a critically acclaimed novelist, poet and playwright, whose works include A Poet’s Guide to Britain and the novel Resistance, which was adapted for the screen by Amit Gupta in 2011;
  • Louise Welsh, author of six novels, including Tamburlaine Must Die (2004), which describes the last years of Christopher Marlowe’s life, and The Cutting Room, which was nominated for the John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award and the Saltaire First Book Award;
  • Ruth Borthwick, CEO of Arvon, a UK programme that runs residential creative writing courses and retreats in rural writing houses, offering participants of all experience levels the time and space to write.

More information about the participants

The seminar will be held in English without translation.

Criteria for applicants

  • Russian citizenship;
  • 18 years or older;
  • Advanced level of English;
  • Interest in contemporary British literature; and
  • An intention to apply the knowledge acquired to one’s working practice, study or research.

The number of participants is limited, and applications will be shortlisted.

After the shortlisting process, all applicants – whether selected or not – will be informed of the final results.

The selected participants will need to pay a registration fee of 5,000 roubles.

The fee includes:

  • Transfer from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana;
  • Accommodation, either in Yasnaya Polyana or in Tula, for the duration of the seminar (15–18 September 2016);
  • Three meals a day; and
  • All materials required for the event.

For more detailed information, please contact Project Manager Lidia Khesed at or +7 495 287 1804.
We look forward to welcoming you to this prestigious, inaugural celebration of literature.