Prof Vesna Goldsworthy

Position: Professor
School: Humanities
Extension: NA
Location: Room Pr.Hh.2004, Penrhyn Road


Vesna Goldsworthy divides her teaching and her research between creative writing and English literature. Her main interests include constructions of identity and nationality, and history, theory, and creative practice of life writing. Her PhD students are now published authors and practising academics both in the UK and abroad.

Goldsworthy has authored several widely translated books. Her Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination (Yale UP, 1998; updated paperback ed. Hurst/Columbia, 2013), a study of representations of the Balkans in literature and film, achieved a rare combination of critical success, broad readership, and enduring academic influence. Slavoj Zizek called it “an extraordinary book,” while Tony Judt commented that Goldsworthy “has chosen a glorious topic”. Inventing Ruritania was described by the Times Literary Supplement as “energetically sustained, meticulous and gripping in its detail”. In its lead review, the Washington Post observed that “Goldsworthy has done enough research to found an academic department”.

Goldsworthy’s memoir, Chernobyl Strawberries (Atlantic, 2005) was serialised in The Times and read by her as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. It was chosen as book of the year by a number of British newspapers and it reached bestselling lists across Europe, with fourteen editions in German alone. It was described by the Observer as “funny, painful and brilliant”, and by the Guardian as “extraordinary”. The TLS critic wrote: “If there has been a more honest, calm and profoundly moving memoir in the last few years, then I've missed it.”

Goldsworthy’s Crashaw Prize–winning poetry collection, The Angel of Salonika (Salt, 2011), was one of The Times’ Best Poetry Books of the Year. The Nobel prize winner J.M. Coetzee noted: “The Angel of Salonika moves on the shadowy borders where the wounds of separation turn into the scars of loss. European in sensibility, elegiac in tone, these poems mark the arrival of a welcome new voice in English poetry”. The book’s Serbian version, Solunski andjeo (Arhipelag, 2012) was recorded for Radio Belgrade and the poems broadcast as a series in July 2012.

Goldsworthy is a former BBC journalist and she continues to write and produce programmes for a range of UK and European broadcasters. Her most recent full length programme “Finding a Voice in a Foreign Country” was broadcast by Radio 4 in October 2010.

Educational and professional qualifications

1996 PhD English Literature , University of London
1992 MA (dist) Modern English Literature , University of London
1985 BA (Hons) Comparative Literature , University of Belgrade

Professional experience (post-1990)

2010-present Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing, Kingston University
2006-2010 Reader in English Literature and Creative Writing, Kingston University
2005-present Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University College London
2001-2006 Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Kingston University
2000-2001 Senior Research Fellow in English, Kingston University
1996-2001 Visiting Professor, Bucknell University, PA; St Lawrence University NY
1992-2000 Producer, BBC World Service
1990-1992 Editor, Editions Alecto, London
1987-1990 Editor, Chadwyck-Healey Ltd; Cambridge


Goldsworthy teaches a range of modules in history, theory, and creative practice of life writing at UG and MA level. She is currently the module leader for ELMA Life Writing and CWBA Sepecial Study Get a Life: Forms of Autobiography, and the Creative Dissertation Project. She has taught a range of CW modules and supervised MA and MFA dissertations in a variety of prose genres, particularly in creative non fiction. Her primary English Literature specialism is in late 19th and 20th century prose, and she has taught fiction, life writing and travel writing within this period.

Research supervision

Currently supervising three PhD projects as Director of Study: a translingual novel in English and Serbian by Nebojsa Radic (Radic is a published novelist and the Director of University-Wide Language Programmes at the Language Centre, University of Cambridge); a creative non-fiction book project about wine and terroir by Judy O'Kane (O'Kane is a recent graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA) and -- jointly with Hanif Kureishi -- a novel exploring the lives of Eastern European immigrant sex forkers (Rymajdo is a recent graduate of the University of Manchester Creative Writing MA). Former PhD students are now published authors and practising academics both in the UK and abroad

Research areas

Centre for Life Narratives: History, theory, and creative practice of life writing
: Constructions of identity and nationality
: The Balkans in English Fiction and Film
: Constructions of European -- and particularly Eastern European -- identity

Professional activity

External examiner

• 2005-2009: University of Birmingham, BA English Language and Literature in Education
• City University, London, MA Creative Non-Fiction (2013-)

PhD/M Res
• Strathclyde University
• University College London
• Trinity College Dublin,
• University of East Anglia
• Open University, PhD
• City University, PhD

Judge, Literary Prizes:
• Booktrust New Writing Ventures 2007, funded by Arts Council England
• IMPAC Dublin Fiction Prize 2009
• Serbian Poetry Prize 2013

Project Referee, Publishers’ Reader, Editorial and Academic Research Advisory Roles:

• AHRC; MHRA; Leverhulme (I have refereed bids in the field of literature, creative writing and history both anonymously and as a named referee since 2003); I have initiated the establishment of Leverhulme-funded Writer in Residence programme at UCL/SSEES.
• Member, Peer Review College, Qatar National Research Fund
• Member, Peer Review College, Dutch Humanities Council.
• Manuscript and book translation evaluation: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Portobello Publishers, John Murray; Northcote; Dalkey Archive Press, Pushkin Press,
• Academic articles refereed for: European History Quarterly, Women: A Cultural Review; Studies in Travel Writing, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers and many others.
• Research advisory roles: UCL, Goldsmiths, City University

Membership of Advisory Bodies

• British Council (UK--South-East Europe Forum) 1992-1995;
• Institute for War and Peace Reporting (London) 1992-1996;
• Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans (Editorial Board, 2001-2006)
• Anthem Travel Classics (Editorial Board, 2006-2009)
• External Experts Advisory Panel, Centre for Balkan Studies, Goldsmiths College
• International Editorial Board: Communication and Culture Online (e-Journal)
• International Editorial Board: Annales University Press, University of Primorska, Koper, Slovenia

Membership of Professional Organisations:
• Modern Languages Association of North America (since 1996)
• Society of Authors (since 1998)
• English PEN (since 2006)


UK: British Council; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; BBC Broadcasting; BBC Audience Research; BBC4; Sky Television; TeamSpirit PR; Independent Television News; The Times Newspapers; Institute for War and Peace Reporting; Current TV; Cactus TV;
Europe: Karl-Franzens-Universität, Graz (Austria), Centre for Advanced Study, University of Sofia; Institute for Journalism (Prague); Norwegian PEN; New Europe College (Bucharest)

Journalism, Reviewing and Broadcasting: Summary

I have written articles and reviewed books and plays for, among others, The Guardian, the London Review of Books, the BBC (over 120 theatre and book reviews for the BBC World Service alone), OpenDemocracy.Net, The English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 (University of North Carolina), Women: A Cultural Review (OUP); New Eastern Europe (Poland), Pro Femina and Letopis Matice Srpske (Serbia-Montenegro); Quorum (Croatia); and Sarajevo Notebooks (Bosnia-Herzegovina). I have worked as broadcaster and producer for the BBC World Service until 2000 and, since then, occasional producer of radio programmes. I have contributed to numerous radio and TV programmes in Australia, North America, Europe, India and Japan. I am a long-standing contributor to the book programmes of a number of European broadcasters such as SVT (Sweden), ORF (Austria), BRD (Germany) and many others

Most recent full length programme script and production: Something Understood: Finding a Voice in a Foreign Country, Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (24 October 2010) and BBC World Service (31 October 2010) For details see

Research outputs

Number of items: 22.


Goldsworthy, Vesna (2011) The present of intimacy: my very public private life. Biography, 34(1), pp. 1-10. ISSN (print) 0162-4962

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2005) Book review of: "A form foredoomed to looseness": Henry James's preoccupation with the gender of fiction by Cecile Mazzucco-Than. English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 48(4), pp. 489-492. ISSN (print) 0013-8339

Dixon, Paul and Goldsworthy, Vesna (2004) Embracing suburbia. Planning in London, 50, pp. 33-34. ISSN (print) 1366-9672

Goldsworthy, Vesna (1999) The last stop on the Orient Express: the Balkans and the politics of British in(ter)vention. Balkanologie: Revue d’études pluridisciplinaires, 3(2), pp. 107-115. ISSN (print) 1279-7952

Goldsworthy, Vesna (1997) Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: Rebecca West's journey through the Balkans. Women: A Cultural Review, 8(1), pp. 1-11. ISSN (print) 0957-4042

Goldsworthy, Vesna (1997) Tennyson and Montenegro. The Tennyson Research Bulletin, 7(1), pp. 7-17. ISSN (print) 0082-2841


Goldsworthy, Vesna (2011) The angel of Salonika. London, U.K. : Salt Publishing. 54p. ISBN 9781844718788

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2007) Czarnobylskie truskawki. Warsaw, Poland : Czarne. 272p. ISBN 9788375360080

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2006) Chernobyl strawberries: a memoir. Paperback ed. London, U.K. : Atlantic Books. 311p. ISBN 1843544156

Goldsworthy, Vesna, ed. (2006) Writing worlds 1: The Norwich exchanges. Norwich, UK : Pen and Inc Press. 176p. ISBN 1902913264

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2005) Chernobyl strawberries: a memoir. London, U.K. : Atlantic Books. 290p. ISBN 1843544148

Goldsworthy, Vesna and Mandelkow, Miriam [Translator] (2005) Heimweh nach Nirgendwo: Eine Lebensgeschichte. Germany : Deuticke im Zsolnay Verlag. 224p. ISBN 3552060022

Goldsworthy, Vesna (1998) Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination. London, U.K. : Yale University Press. 254p. ISBN 9780300073126

Book Section

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2014) The Bloomsbury narcissus. In: Rosner, Victoria, (ed.) The Cambridge companion to the Bloomsbury Group. Cambridge, U.K. : Cambridge University Press. pp. 183-197. (Cambridge Companions to Literature) ISBN 9781107018242

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2013) Yugoslavia: a defeated argument? In: Gorup, Radmila, (ed.) After Yugoslavia: the cultural spaces of a vanished land. Stanford, California : Stanford University Press. pp. 38-52. ISBN 9780804784023

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2013) An introduction to the new edition: Ruritania returns. In: Goldsworthy, Vesna, (ed.) Inventing Ruritania: the imperialism of the imagination. Revised and updated edition. London, U.K. : Columbia University Press. pp. ix-xxiv. ISBN 9780231704236

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2013) The private self: interior and the presenting of memory. In: Massey, Anne and Sparke, Penny, (eds.) Biography, identity and the modern interior. Farnham, U.K. : Ashgate. pp. 173-185. ISBN 9781409439448

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2006) The Balkans in nineteenth-century British travel writing. In: Youngs, Tim, (ed.) Travel writing in the nineteenth century: filling the blank spaces. London, UK : Anthem Press. pp. 19-35. (Anthem nineteenth century studies) ISBN 1843312182

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2006) The trouble with belonging: an afterword. In: Goldsworthy, Vesna, (ed.) Writing worlds 1: The Norwich exchanges. Norwich, UK : Pen and Inc Press. pp. 160-165. ISBN 1902913264

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2004) The love that dares not speak its name: Englishness and suburbia. In: Rogers, David and McLeod, John, (eds.) The revision of Englishness. Manchester, U.K. : Manchester University Press. pp. 95-106. ISBN 9780719069727

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2001) Yugoslavia and former Yugoslav territories. In: Jolly, Margaretta, (ed.) Encyclopedia of Life Writing. London, UK : Fitzroy Dearborn. pp. 976-977. ISBN 157958232x

Goldsworthy, Vesna (2000) Literature: Eastern Europe. In: Kramarae, Cheris and Spender, Dale, (eds.) Routledge international encyclopedia of women: global women's issues and knowledge. London, UK : Routledge. pp. 1261-1264. ISBN 0415920914

This list was generated on Fri Feb 5 11:24:26 2016 GMT.