Ali Smith

b. 1962

Ali Smith was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2007.

Here’s a photo of me with Dylan the cat. I’ve been a Fellow of the RSL since 2007, when I managed to sign the register with both Dickens’s and Byron’s pens, the Ali was Dickens’s and the Smith was Byron’s. I think I was lucky to get away with that – and glad to, because I couldn’t choose one and not the other. I’m currently on Council, which has actually been exciting – the meetings lead to a vitally varied set of events and the RSL is always finding good and sometimes ingenious ways to help writers, galvanise audiences and promote national and international writing all over the UK.

I wrote How to be both driven by a notion that the arts are all interrelated, by a curiosity to see if a painting method might meet and enliven a narrative method, and by a picture I happened to see in a magazine, a 15th century fresco detail by Francesco del Cossa, which led me to a true story that I couldn’t stop thinking about, one about art and worth. I think I wanted to examine the ever-presence of history,  the aliveness of what we imagine over and done, and the life force in all art.  I can say that now, with hindsight, but while you’re writing all you’re hoping is that the story will hold.

What am I currently reading? Right now? The Shore by Sara Taylor. It’s great.


News stories relating to Ali Smith

Ali Smith warns over library closures

August 18, 2015

RSL Fellow Ali Smith, this year’s winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize, has spoken of her deep concern about the impact of library closures. She told the Edinburgh International Book Festival that in November she will bring out a collection of short sto …

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Articles by Ali Smith

Telling Tales

In a celebration of the eighteenth V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for short stories, featuring Ali Smith.

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An eye for life

Ali Smith and Marion Coutts discuss writing grief and loss. Chaired by Maggie Fergusson.

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On Tove Jansson

Kate Kellaway, Ali Smith and Thomas Teal discuss Tove Jansson.

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Jose Saramago: a celebration

Ali Smith and translator Margaret Jull Costa celebrate the life and work of Jose Saramago

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Found in Translation

Of the thousands of books published in Britain each year, only a handful are translated from foreign languages. Given the dominance of English as the international language of business and politics, perhaps our literary chauvinism is inevitable.

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