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School of English and Drama

Dr Isabel Waidner


Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing/Performance

Twitter: @isabelwaidner


I am a writer based in London, with a specialism in interdisciplinary and innovative forms of creative writing at the intersections with cultural theory. I am the author of Corey Fah Does Social Mobility, Sterling Karat Gold, We Are Made of Diamond Stuff and Gaudy Bauble. I am the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2021, and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize in 2019, the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction in 2022 and the Republic of Consciousness Prize in 2018, 2020 and 2022. I am also a co-founder of the long-standing event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

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Research Interests:

  • Interdisciplinary and innovative forms of creative writing
  • Queer and trans writing with an emphasis on intersectionality
  • Creative writing with performance and the visual arts
  • Creative-critical writing and practice-led research
  • The novel

Recent and On-Going Research

I write novels, essays and plays, and I am committed to displacing formal distinctions and developing innovative, interdisciplinary and inclusive creative-critical writing practices.


My most recent novel, Corey Fah Does Social Mobility, takes issue with received notions of social mobility, often related as simplistic triumph-over-tragedy narratives, or connected to mythologies around ‘merit’. It uses the example of a writer, Corey Fah, winning a prize (not unlike myself winning the Goldsmiths Prize in 2021) to make the case that it might not be quite as straightforward: supposedly propelled into contexts of privilege and opportunity as a result of their win, Corey has to content with their difference and their unconventional past catching up with them—in the shape of a cute but freaky Bambi. Instead of capitalising on their win, Corey is lead on a diversion involving a daytime television show, its time-travelling host, and a trip to the Forest of their childhood. (I myself am originally from an area in Germany called the Black Forest, so there’s that.)


My Goldsmiths-Prize-winning novel Sterling Karat Gold is a surreal inquiry into the real effects of state violence on gender-nonconforming, working-class and black bodies. Published in 2021 by Peninsula Press in the UK and with Graywolf Press in the US in 2023, it develops the potential of performance—as staged in literary fiction—to advance progressive cultures, politics and modes of sociality. It takes inspiration from contemporary and historical performance practices such as Mojisola Adebayo’s Afriquia theatre, Kevin Killian’s Poet’s Theatre and contemporary queer DIY artists’ plays.


We Are Made of Diamond Stuff, is an innovative and critically British fiction, questioning the dream of national belonging. It was first published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe in 2019 and re-issued by Peninsula Press in 2022. Set on the Isle of Wight, it collides literary aesthetics with contemporary working-class cultures and attitudes (B.S. Johnson and Reebok classics), works with themes of empire, embodiment and resistance, and interrogates autobiographical material including the queer migrant experience.


A key aspect of my work has been my research into the performance of creative writing and how to do ‘readings’ differently. I am committed to collaborating and making connections with other writers, performers and audiences, and my work in the area of live literary events—most recently This Isn’t a Dream: Conversations with Writers and Queers Read This with the ICA—has been instrumental in establishing queer and trans writing as a medium which is helping to mobilise new communities in the UK and beyond in recent years.



  • Corey Fah Does Social Mobility. UK: Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2023; US: Graywolf Press, 2024.
  • Sterling Karat Gold. UK: Peninsula Press, 2021; US: Graywolf Press, 2023.
  • We Are Made of Diamond Stuff. Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019/Peninsula Press, 2022.
  • Gaudy Bauble. UK: Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017.

Edited Volume

  • Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature. Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018.

Creative-Critical Writing, Plays and Short Fictions (recent sample)


I welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in the areas of innovative and interdisciplinary writing, and creative writing at the intersections with cultural theory, performance, visual art and queer/trans theory.

Public Engagement

I am a co-founder and curator of Queers Read This, a live reading series platforming LGBTQI+ and working-class writers and writers of colour since 2018. I was also the curator and host of This Isn’t a Dream, a fortnightly literary talk show presented by the ICA via Instagram live between 2021-2022. I have delivered public talks and keynote lectures at Oxford University, Cambridge University, King’s College, Goldsmiths UoL, and I speak regularly at literary festivals including Cambridge Literature Festival, Edinburgh International Book, Humber Mouth, and AWP in the US. My work has been reviewed and discussed in the Guardian, New York Times, frieze, New Statesman and the TLS, for example, and I have been interviewed in the Observer, New Statesman, and by PEN America, among others.

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