Susannah Stevenson










We are excited to announce that Susannah Stevenson is joining Charleston as Artistic Director of the Charleston Festival, Small Wonder Festival and Literary Programmes.

Susannah is a literary programmer and arts producer who has worked at some of the UK’s most prestigious arts venues, including the British Library and the Southbank Centre, home of the London Literature Festival. As Cultural Events Producer for the British Library, she curated the literature programme and seasons such as the European Literature Focus, Food Season and Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

Susannah will lead on the artistic planning and delivery of the year-round books, discussion and debate strand of Charleston’s growing what’s on programme. The centerpiece of this strand is the interdisciplinary Charleston Festival of books, ideas and creativity, which runs over 10 days every May. Charleston Festival’s founder and Artistic Director, Diana Reich, stepped down after the 30th anniversary of this pioneering festival in 2019 but will continue to programme Charleston’s sister festival, Charleston to Charleston, which takes place in South Carolina every November.

Through Charleston’s literary programmes, Susannah will explore the relevance of the Bloomsbury group’s ideas and legacy in contemporary society to provide a forum for conversations and bring new work to enquiring audiences. Charleston’s existing portfolio of festivals also includes Small Wonder, the UK’s only festival dedicated to short stories, which has been running for 15 years and will return to the programme in autumn 2020. Her role will also support the discussion and debate strand of Charleston’s wider programme including new festivals for children and young people, Queer Bloomsbury, Music & Word and other spoken word events, both at Charleston and with partners in the region and further afield.

Susannah sits on the selection panel for the European Writers’ Tour and was the Founding Chair of the Gender Equality Network at the British Library. She is also a reviewer, editor and researcher, and was a Clore Emerging Leader in 2015.

Nathaniel Hepburn, Director and Chief Executive, The Charleston Trust, said:

“We are all really excited to welcome Susannah to Charleston, where she will become the custodian of our very special literary festivals and the innovator of new programmes. I look forward to working with her to build on Diana’s formidable legacy with Charleston Festival and Small Wonder, while also exploring new ideas for our year-round programme to attract new audience to experience extraordinary literature and radical ideas in the unique setting of Charleston’s Hay Barn. ”

Susannah Stevenson, Artistic Director: Charleston Festival, Small Wonder and Literary Programmes, The Charleston Trust, said:

“I am delighted to be joining The Charleston Trust as their new Artistic Director for Charleston Festival, Small Wonder and the wider literary programme. It is an honour to step into the rich tradition of literature and radical ideas which Diana Reich has established here in this unique and special place. It is a tradition embodied by the Bloomsbury Group, whose work and lives provide an endless well of inspiration and a call to challenge the status quo at every turn. I look forward to building on the incredible work that has come before me to explore and celebrate extraordinary ideas and voices, ensuring that Charleston remains relevant and loved by audiences old and new.”

Next year’s Charleston Festival will take place from 15 to 25 May 2020.

(L to R) Helen Bagnall, Grayson Perry and Philippa Perry at the 2019 Charleston Festival Image © Electric Egg

What's on

12 JulWorkshop
Planting a classic cottage garden

Award-winning designer Juliet Sargeant leads an inspirational day of planting design at Charleston.

01 AugMusic
CROWLINK | Shirley Collins

2021. Legendary folk singer Shirley Collins in a unique collaboration with Brian Catling and Matthew Shaw.

16 AugWorkshop
Planting and gardening on chalk

Join Juliet Sargeant to learn about all the chalk-loving plants at Charleston.

06 SepWorkshop
Painting in the Garden | Autumn

Join artist Julian Le Bas for a day’s intensive painting, and lose yourself in the atmosphere of the walled garden.

Get involved