Pete Ayrton was born in London in 1943. His first jobs in publishing was as a translator from French and Italian. In 1986, he founded Serpent’s Tail, an independent publisher with a commitment to publish striking and innovative fiction in translation and first novels. In 1989, Serpent’s Tail won the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year Award. In 2004 (ten years after Kenzaburo Oe’s The Silent Cry) Elfriede Jelinek won the the Nobel Prize for literature for The Piano Teacher. In 2008, Pete Ayrton was awarded France’s Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to French culture. In 2015, he retired from Serpent’s Tail, now an imprint of Profile Books, and, since then, has edited three anthologies, No Man’s Land, writing of the First World War, No Pasarán, writing of the Spanish Civil War and Revolution!, writing of the Russian Revolution. In 2019, he started Small Axes, an imprint of HopeRoad publishing. Pete Ayrton lives in North London and can be found some afternoons walking on Hampstead Heath.
Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.