Alice Albinia

Alice is the award-winning author of twinned works of fiction and non-fiction. To write her first two books, which explore overlapping cultural and geographical territory in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Tibet, she worked for two years as a journalist and editor in Delhi, learnt Urdu, took an MA at SOAS, and travelled through the Indus valley, experiences which became intertwined works. Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River, published in 2008, won six prizes in Britain, Pakistan, France and Italy. Leela’s Book, published in 2011, was long-listed for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and translated into six languages.

Alice then spent nine years travelling around the edges of Britain, piecing together ancient, medieval and modern myths of islands ruled by women, as she researched Britain’s island histories and female-centred epics. The Britannias: And the Islands of Women, published in 2023 by Penguin and Norton, is both a portrait of Britain which knocks the centre out and a feminist quest. Her novel, Cwen, published by Serpent’s Tail, is set on an archipelago off the east coast of Britain which apparently comes under female rule. It was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and Scotland’s National Book Awards.

Alice read English Literature at Cambridge University, and South Asian history at SOAS. It was in Delhi, as she worked for the Centre for Science and Environment, Biblio: A Review of Books, and Outlook Travellerthat she had the idea to write her first two books. Since then, she has written for publications all over the world, including Wall Street JournalFinancial Times, and National Geographic. She also teaches writing. She has taught Creative Writing in Orkney for the Islands’ Council, in London with First Story, and currently teaches with the Royal Literary Fund.

Her new literary project looks at the trade in fertilisers between Britain and Latin America during the nineteenth century: its effect on soil, water and people.