This week Penguin Random House author Kit de Waal led a feature on BBC Radio 4 entitled ‘Where are all the working class writers?’, in which she explored working class representation on the UK’s bookshelves, and why there are not more working class writers or books. Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, also featured in the programme discussing the “urgent commercial imperative” for making the publishing industry more diverse, as well as some of the initiatives we have launched to encourage more inclusion within our books and publishing.
This topic is one which is deeply personal to Kit. Describing herself in the feature as working class and a daughter of immigrant parents, she explains how she never expected to be a writer: “People like me weren’t even expected to go to university.” She recollects how, during her childhood in Birmingham, there were only ever two things to read in her house: the Bible and the News of the World on a Sunday. After leaving school at the age of sixteen Kit worked in a number of different jobs, before becoming a member of the employment tribunal, the adoption panel, and then a magistrate. She went to university at the age of 51, to study an MA in Creative Writing.