Sunday 4 December 4.30pm - 5.30pm

Our current writer-in-residence Alice Albinia will read from her recent novel Cwen and her upcoming non-fiction work The Britannias, followed by a conversation and Q&A  chaired by Beth Howell, Collections & Research Assistant at the Devon and Exeter Institution and PhD Candidate at University of Exeter.

You can also save a seat here to watch the live-stream online.

Islands of Women Collective is a multi-disciplinary creative practice, set up to explore ancient and contemporary feminist cultures. It takes its name from Alice’s literary research into a series of ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval texts, all of which allude to British islands once ruled by women, including a late-medieval nationhood myth for ‘Albion’ about the flight of a group of Syrian women to the then-uninhabited islands of Britain. The collective enact metaphorical rites of passage by performing walks between islands, across sea-bed now passable at low tide but which – with rising sea levels – will be permanently covered in the future. In so doing they reflect on our ecological inheritance, link the climate crisis and its part in conflicts that have led to mass migration and draw out the relationship between work women traditionally do, caring for others, and the work of caring for the earth. The collective seeks to find new visual, performative and literary languages, to revive old stories and create new ones that promotes and protects a more nurturing approach to the land and our bodies.

About the author

Alice Albinia is the award-winning author of twinned works of fiction and non-fiction. Her two new books are about Britain and its islands. The Britannias, a portrait of Britain which knocks the centre out, is forthcoming from Allen Lane/WW Norton in 2023. Her new novel, Cwen, set on an archipelago off the east coast of Britain which comes under female rule, out now with Serpent’s Tail, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.


This event will be in-person at Exeter Custom House and is Pay What You Can. There is also the option to attend all of Alice’s events on Sunday 4th December by purchasing our Pay What You Can writer-in-residence all day ticket.

We have increased capacity at Quay Words events, so you may be sitting next to someone who is not in your household. We are still taking precautions to ensure our audiences are protected from Covid 19. We will be keeping windows open to ensure good ventilation in the building so you may want to bring an extra layer. Please do not attend Quay Words events if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or are feeling unwell. This event is going to be filmed for live broadcast on Crowdcast. You may appear on screen. Please only book if you are happy with this.

You can find out more about the accessibility of the Custom House here. If you have any access needs you’d like to discuss with us before the event you can contact us on