Keynote Speakers

Diane Purkiss is an English Fellow at Keble College, Oxford.

She launched the new special topic option for third-year Oxford undergraduates in children’s literature in 2011. She is the co-author with her son Michael of the critically acclaimed Corydon trilogy, and is the first current member of the Oxford English faculty to have published children’s books since C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Diane was educated at the University of Queensland, Australia and at Oxford, where she did her doctorate at Merton College. Subsequently, she taught at the Universities of East Anglia, Reading, and Exeter as Lecturer and then Professor before taking up her current position at Keble. As an enthusiastic cultural commentator, Purkiss reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, the Sunday Telegraph, the Telegraph, the Guardian, and she appears frequently on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and on BBC TV.

Her current research is on Alan Garner and his manuscripts, as part of a project on writer’s block. She has recently organised an exhibition at the Bodleian library on ‘Magical Books’, which runs from the 23rd May to the 27th October.

Anna Kemp is a lecturer in French at Queen Mary, University of London, and author of the award-winning picturebook Dogs Don’t Do Ballet.

She has since written two more picturebooks (Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes and The Worst Princess), one young fiction title (Fantastic Frankie and the Brain-Drain Machine), and has a second on the way on the 4th July this year (The Great Brain Robbery), with Simon & Schuster.

Her research focuses on French and francophone women’s writing and its often fruitful, sometimes fraught, relationship to feminist theory and practice. Her first monograph Voices and Veils: Feminism and Islam in French Women’s Writing and Activism traces continuities betweencolonial and contemporary feminist representations of Muslim women. It was shortlisted for the Gapper Prize for the best book in French Studies published in the UK in 2010.

Her current research considers themes of self-creation in the work of women writers and artists including Sophie Calle, Orlan, Amélie Nothomb, Nina Bouraoui and Fawzia Zouari.

Penelope Brown is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Manchester.

She is author of the seminal work A Critical History of French Children’s Literature, surveying French children’s literature from 1600 to the present day. This two-volume study is the first comprehensive account of French children’s literature to be written in English.

She is the Honorary Secretary for the British Comparative Literature Association, and has organised and co-organised many workshops and international conferences for the BCLA.
As a comparatist, she is interested in reception studies, the question of influence and the ways in which ideas from one culture are appropriated, adapted and integrated with existing literary traditions in another country. Children’s literature is a particularly rich field of enquiry in these respects.

She is currently working on representations of the Holocaust and the Algerian War in French children’s books.

Martin Pope is co-founder of Magic Light Pictures with Michael Rose.

Magic Light Pictures is a brand-building company, creating rich and imaginative experiences for families worldwide. It develops and grows select family brands with strong stories, evergreen characters and products to cherish. The company directly manages production, licensing, global distribution and marketing. Magic Light’s work is characterised by quality, integrity and focus, with creativity at its heart.

The company balances its brand-building work with film making of the highest quality. Together Martin and Michael have produced the Oscar-nominated animated feature Chico & Rita; comedy thriller Wild Target starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Martin Freeman and Rupert Everett; romantic comedy Sparkle starring Stockard Channing, Shaun Evans and Bob Hoskins; and natural history documentary One Life, narrated by Daniel Craig, which topped the Japanese box office with over a million admissions and has recently been released in the US.

Magic Light’s key brand is The Gruffalo, from the best-selling picture books by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler.  Martin and Michael produced the Oscar and BAFTA-nominated half-hour animated films, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, and the company has sold them to over 80 broadcasters worldwide.  Magic Light also runs a cross-category international merchandising programme for The Gruffalo brand, with over 40 licensees and 250 products which capture the charm of the original books.

In 2012, Magic Light introduced its latest brand, Room on the Broom – based on the best-selling book by Donaldson and Scheffler. Martin and Michael produced another half-hour animation, winner of the RTS Award for Children’s Programme 2013, and the company has launched a growing range of merchandise.

In recent years Martin has also produced Stephen Poliakoff’s feature film Glorious 39 starring Bill Nighy, Romola Garai, Julie Christie and Christopher Lee; and acclaimed director Paul Andrew Williams’ comedy horror The Cottage.

Prior to starting Magic Light, Martin ran his own company, through which he produced award-winning films including The Heart of Me starring Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Bettany and Olivia Williams; writer/director team Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger’s  Lawless Heart with Bill Nighy and Tom Hollander; Sundance success Touch of Pink starring Jimi Mistry and Kyle Maclachlan; and Alive & Kicking; as well as tv movie The Turn of The Screwstarring Jodhi May and Colin Firth.

Martin began his career at the BBC, going on to become a development executive and producer at BBC Films working with directors including John Schlesinger and John Madden.


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