Maureen Duffy is a playwright, poet, novelist and biographer—her output totalling some 34 published works to date. She is also an activist, having spent much of her life campaigning for authors’ rights, human rights, gay rights and animal rights. In the field of copyright, in particular, she has established many initiatives to ensure authors are paid for the use of their works. Duffy was an undergraduate at King’s College London in the 1950s, which she subsequently re-imagined as 'Queen’s' College London in her novel Capital (1975). King's now hosts her archive, and the Strand Campus windows feature a biographical installation dedicated to her achievements.
2017: Postcards from the International Authors Forum
‘Postcards from the International Authors Forum’ in 2017 , part of King’s Arts and Humanities ‘World Service’ festival, explored Maureen’s services to authors worldwide. The event considered the services authors perform all over the world, through the network of the International Authors Forum (IAF), an initiative Maureen has been instrumental in building since 2011. Through films, presentations and exhibitions, this event included the work of creators in Iraq, Israel, Italy, Korea, Solomon Islands, South Africa and Sudan. It drew attention to the conditions in which they work and the importance of preserving cultural and linguistic diversity in thinking about ways we can give voice to and recognise the positive contributions authors everywhere make to humanity.
The IAF is a global network of unions of writers and artists which supports authors’ professional rights and interests, including copyright and fair contracts.
2015: King’s Arts and Humanities ‘Fabrication’ themed Festival
As part of King’s Arts and Humanities ‘Fabrication’ themed Festival in October 2015, we explored Maureen’s place in the fabric of King’s through her archive, held at the College, as well as the collaboration between Maureen and lettering artist Liz Matthews, who set Maureen’s love poetry collection, Songs for Sappho, to handmade paper, in an artist’s book installation, Paper Wings. Liz fabricated Maureen’s words using a variety of natural materials and tools. The event also came with a tea towel on which was printed Maureen’s Poem Crafty. The event was a conversation between Maureen, Liz and Katie Webb, who has worked with Maureen on her archive and is a fellow King’s alumna.
2013: Maureen Duffy at 80: In Times Like These
In 2013 King’s hosted ‘Maureen Duffy at 80: In Times Like These’, a day celebrating Maureen’s life, work and 80th birthday, as well as the launch of her latest novel, In Times Like These. The day consisted of poetry, readings, talks, memories and music by friends, scholars, colleagues and writers. It is documented here on Strandlines, which also gives us the opportunity to bring forth contributions from friends and colleagues who could not be there on the day but who provide deeper insights into the significance of Maureen’s work over a lifetime.