Hosted by Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan, with special guest Alison Larkin
The Mount, Lenox, 3-5 p.m

Join us for a reading by the three winners of the BFWW personal essay contest, which invited Berkshire women and girls to consider how their experiences of culture, body, biology, roles, behavior, language, work or spirit have defined or called into question their ideas of femininity.  The event will be introduced by contest judge Alison Larkin, author of the best-selling comic novel The English American, who will share her ideas about writing from personal experiences.

A gala reception will follow.

Alison Larkin was born in Washington DC, adopted at birth by British parents, and raised in England and Africa. After graduating from Royal Holloway College, London University, and The Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, she became a playwright and classical actress on the British stage. Then, at 28, she found her birth mother…in Bald Mountain, Tennessee. The experience turned her into a stand-up comic and author. Her autobiographical novel, The English American, was a Vogue “most powerful book of the season” and Redbook magazine’s Book Club Pick of the Month. It currently under development by Bright Pictures, UK, to be turned into a major motion picture, with Alison writing the screenplay. Her internationally acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show, from which her novel springs, previewed at the Manchester Royal Exchange, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival’s Assembly Rooms and headlined in at the Soho Theatre as a highlight of the London Comedy Festival. The show has been seen in concert performances around the world and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable organizations.

Nina Ryan is an independent literary agent and editor who has worked in book publishing for twenty years, from her work with the Cowles-Ryan Agency, the Palmer & Dodge Agency in Boston (now Kneerim & Williams), and as an editor at Random House. She has worked closely with a number of writers to develop book proposals and manuscripts for books published by Alfred A. Knopf, Henry Holt & Co., Doubleday, Macmillan, Walker Books, and other major publishers. She received an MA from the Columbia School of Journalism, and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.



Michelle Gillett has won poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and published work in numerous literary magazines. She is the author of Blinding the Goldfinches, winner of the Backwaters Press Poetry Prize and published in 2005; a chapbook, Rock & Spindle (Mad River Press); and The Green Cottage, winner of The Ledge 2010 Poetry Chapbook competition, out this fall. She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She is a regular op-ed columnist for the Berkshire Eagle, and writing workshop teacher.

Michelle and Nina are partners in g + r editing writing and book development.