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about me

Hello – I'm an author of novels and non-fiction, a live literaturist, researcher and mama of two, based in London. 

My debut novel is The Invisible Crowd – paperback OUT NOW from HQ (Harper Collins). It is a polyphonic novel about immigration and asylum, and tells the story of Yonas, an Eritrean asylum seeker, his experiences in the UK after he's smuggled over in a boat, and the motley collection of people he meets during his quest to remain.

It was inspired by a case I worked on when I was a human rights barrister and voluntary work with refugees after that. I felt so strongly about the distorting tabloid headlines about asylum seekers that I not only decided to write fiction, but began each chapter with a real headline.

If you like audio books, you can hear my voice reading parts of it on Audible.

If you enjoy reading The Invisible Crowd, please do post a review online – it really makes a huge difference to an author! And do feel free to get in touch as I'm always happy to have feedback from readers. My agent is Laura Macdougall at United Agents. 

My first book, Saffron Shadows (Columbia University Press 2015), is about literary life in Myanmar under censorship and includes new translations of fiction and poetry. I researched it while living and working in Yangon as a human rights lawyer.

I am also a literary critic, and review fiction, non-fiction and theatre for the TLS. I also write articles on subjects ranging from censorship, Myanmar, literary culture, literary anthropology, ethnography, law and human rights - you can find links to published pieces on my work page.

I am currently researching live literature for a PhD in literary anthropology and publishing, focusing on the performance of fiction at live events within contemporary literary culture, which is based in the University of Stirling and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It will be turned into book about live literature for Palgrave. 

I founded and direct an experimental live literature project called Ark to stage immersive short story performances in library spaces which have included The British Library, Palace Green Library in Durham University and Swiss Cottage Library. I write and make audio stories as part of those shows. I am particularly interested in the intersections between the creative and the critical, as well as between genres of writing. 

I have an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway (Distinction), a Masters in human rights law and social theory from UCL (Distinction), and a degree in Music from Oxford (top first), and I am a qualified barrister.

I practised law as a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers in London for seven years. I've also worked for an AIDS orphan charity in Zambia, in a refugee camp court in Thailand, on the Botswana's Bushmen's trial contesting their eviction from ancestral lands, and in Myanmar training lawyers on human rights. As a flautist I have played professionally in orchestras, busked around Europe and winged it in a jazz quartet. 

I am the proud (if frazzled) mama of two children under five who have vivid imaginations, a passion for peanut butter, and love a good story. 

If you'd like to say hello or ask me anything about my work, please do via my contact page. If you'd like to connect on social media, find my writer page on Facebook @ellenwiles and follow me on Twitter @ellenwiles. Thanks!