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Cortina Butler

Cortina is Director, Literature at the British Council and oversees our programme of work with writers and other literature professionals, building relationships between the reading, writing, translation, literature development and publishing communitiesin the UK and around the world.

Cortina studied Psychology and Philosophy at Somerville College Oxford. She has extensive experience working in the international publishing industry, most recently as Global Editor-in-Chief for the Reader’s Digest Association and before that for Dumont Buchverlag, Charles Letts and Conran Octopus. She is also a Director of the visual arts copyright organisation DACS and a Trustee of the DACS Foundation. She joined the British Council in 2013.

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Matt Beavers

Matt is a Programme Manager, Literature at the British Council where he leads on the team’s work in the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa. Matt joined the Literature Team in 2015 from British Council Germany where he worked as a project coordinator (with a special focus on literature and the arts) since 2008. From 2010 he coordinated the British Council’s Berlin Literature Seminar (formerly the Walberberg Seminar) which has welcomed over 200 UK writers to Germany since it was founded by Malcolm Bradbury in 1986. Within the literature team he specialises in poetry and spoken word, and is constantly on the lookout for exciting new voices in the UK poetry scene.

Before joining the British Council Matt worked for the British Embassy in Berlin, taught English in Berlin and Vienna, and had a brief stint working at the Leadmill nightclub in Sheffield. He read European Studies and German at UEA Norwich.

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Swithun Cooper

Swithun joined the Literature team as Research and Information Manager in November 2014. He manages the library at the London offices, writes a monthly bulletin covering news and developments in UK literature, and researches authors, festivals, new projects and specialist areas for the team to focus on in their international events. He chaired the new writing panel on behalf of the British Council at the International Literature Showcase 2015.

Swithun previously spent five years as the library assistant and rare books archivist at the Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, during which time he ran site-specific reading and writing workshops and assisted with the organisation of Poetry Parnassus. He has also worked as the events manager at the Royal Society of Literature, where he programmed schools outreach workshops with the charity First Story and organised talks by writers including Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith and Stephen Kelman. His writing has appeared in Intelligent Life, The TES, and The London Magazine.

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Leah Cross

Leah works on the Market Focus Cultural Programmes at the London Book Fair and assists the team on other national and international literature projects. Leah has a BA in English and History of Art and an MA in English Literature from King’s College, London and joined the British Council after working in Amnesty International’s Art for Amnesty team. Prior to this, she spent two years at Visual Editions, supporting a variety of experimental print and digital literature projects in the form of books, apps, websites, events and installations. Her interests include digital literature, human rights, publishing and visual arts.

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Jim Hinks

Jim Hinks is a Literature Programme Manager responsible for Wider Europe, The Middle East and North Africa. He’s based in the British Council’s Manchester office. Jim joined the British Council from Comma Press, an independent publisher based in Manchester, UK, which specialises in short stories in translation. There he worked as a translation editor and led on Comma’s digital projects, including eBook production, app development, and the MacGuffin self-publishing platform. Jim has over ten years of experience in the UK publishing industry, and for three years led the editorial module on the MA in Publishing at The University of Central Lancashire. He’s a graduate of Nottingham Trent University and The University of Manchester, and is a part-time PhD candidate at Edge Hill University, where his research specialism is narrative mechanisms of the short story. 

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Daisy Leitch

Daisy is the Communications Manager and Programme Manager for the Literature team. Her role includes coordinating the teams’ website, social media and newsletter as well as managing the Literature programme for South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka). Daisy also leads on two areas of special interest for the team- Culture and Development and Freedom of Speech. Daisy was recently seconded to Nepal, Kathmandu, for four months working on the WOW (Women of the World) Festival which happened for the first time in February 2016 in that city linking women from across South Asia. WOW started at the Southbank Centre and is now a global movement of festivals.

Daisy is the co-founder of the live events company 5x15 which has worked with writers and thinkers from all over the world including Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie, and Neil Gaiman on evenings of conversation, debate and storytelling at venues from the Lyceum Theatre to the Royal Festival Hall. She has also worked at Channel 4 as a Director of short films and as a books editor and reviewer. She has a BA in History from St John’s College Cambridge University and has an MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. Hobbies include travel and walking.

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Sinead Russell

Sinead Russell is Senior Literature Programme Manager, job sharing with Rachel Stevens. Together they are responsible for programmes in EU Europe, UK partnerships and the International Literature Showcase, alongside supporting the management of the team. Previously, as Literature Programme Manager, Sinead was responsible for a literature programmes in East Asia, Europe and Latin America, in addition to global literature education and children’s literature activity. 

Sinead has been a Trustee for spoken word organisation Apples & Snakes and an Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England, and her specialisms include work in reader development and learning English through literature.  Prior to the British Council, she read English Studies at the University of Durham, taught English as a Foreign Language in Japan, and worked for libraries in the London Borough of Hounslow.  


 Rachel Stevens

Rachel Stevens

is Senior Literature Programme Manager, job sharing with Sinead Russell. Together they are responsible for programmes in EU Europe, major UK partnerships and the International Literature Showcase, alongside strategy development and supporting the management of the team.   Rachel joined the British Council after graduation and previously worked for Counterpoint, the cultural relations think tank.  Since 2007 she has been lucky enough to develop Literature programmes in a number of countries across the globe including Brazil, Egypt, Russia and Pakistan.  Her specialist interest is literature in translation, and she is on the board of Modern Poetry in Translation.

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Joe White

Joe is the Literature Coordinator for the Literature team. He joined the Literature team in October 2017 and is responsible for team administration as well as helping coordinate the international showcasing programme and other literature projects. His specialisms within the team are graphic novels, literature and gaming, and academic literature.

Joe has a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MPHIL in Modern and Contemporary Literature from the same. His hobby-horses are boxing, bird-watching, and Leicester City Football Club.

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Harriet Williams

Harriet is the Programme Manager for the London Book Fair Market Focus cultural programme and also leads on our programmes in East Asia. The Market Focus programme is a year-long focus on the publishing market of a chosen country, from publishers to authors. In 2018 this will be the Baltic Countries: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Previously Harriet worked coordinating other literature showcases, including the Guadalajara International Book Fair UK Guest of Honour in 2015. She’s interested in community building and outreach, publishing and her team specialism is literature in translation.

Harriet studied English literature at Oxford University and has an MA from Queen Mary, University of London. She previously worked at the British Museum working on their membership scheme.  Before that she worked for the London Review Bookshop and travelled the world, including a brief stint of nannying in Paris and learning about digital journalism in Cambodia. 


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