Can Literature Solve Poverty?

Hosted by LSE “Beveridge 2.0” and the Royal Society of Literature

Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House


Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal

Paul McVeigh

Paul McVeigh

Dr Aaron Reeves

Dr Aaron Reeves


Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi

In the run up to the LSE Festival: Beveridge 2.0, rethinking the welfare state for the 21st Century, we bring together a panel to discuss the relationship between literature and poverty. They reflect on questions such as: do you need money to access literature? If not, why are there comparatively few working-class writers? And can literature actively play a part in reducing financial hardship?

Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon and editor of the forthcoming Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers will be joined by playwright, novelist and short story writer Paul McVeigh and Aaron Reeves, Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE, whose work looks at the causes and consequences of social, economic and cultural inequality. The conversation will be chaired by journalist Sarah Shaffi.

Kit de Waal (@KitdeWaal) was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014. My Name is Leon is her first novel. 

Born in Belfast, Paul McVeigh’s (@paul_mc_veigh) work has been performed on stage and radio, published in print and translated into seven languages. He began his career as a playwright before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows, which were performed at the Edinburgh Festival and in London’s West End. Moving into prose, his short stories have been published in anthologies & literary journals and read on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5. Paul co-founded the London Short Story Festival, of which, he was Director and Curator for 2014 & ’15. He is associate director at Word Factory. Paul McVeigh's debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari Prize and The McCrea Literary Award.  

Aaron Reeves (@aaronsreeves) is  Associate Professorial Research Fellow in the International Inequalities Institute at LSE. His research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of social, economic, and cultural inequality across countries. He is a sociologist with interests in public health, culture, and political economy; examining inequality through a number of different lenses and using a variety of methods. Prior to joining LSE, he was Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Oxford University – where he was also a research fellow at Nuffield college – and he worked briefly at the University of Cambridge. He completed my PhD (2013) in Applied Social & Economic Research with the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.

Sarah Shaffi (@sarahshaffi) is online editor and producer at The Bookseller, the UK publishing industry's trade magazine, where she has worked since 2013. Previously she worked in local newspapers across Kent and London. In 2016, she co-founded networking group BAME in Publishing, a regular meet up for people from ethnic minorities working in UK publishing. Sarah review books monthly for Stylist Magazine online and also regularly chairs author events. 

This event is in partnership with Royal Society of Literature (@RSLiterature) and we are grateful to the Royal Literary Fund for sponsoring the event. Founded in 1820, RSL is Britain’s national charity for the advancement of literature. We encourage and honour writers, engage people in appreciating literature, and act as a voice for the value of literature. Membership of the RSL is open to all – for £50 a year, or £30 a year for under 30s. Member benefits include access to exclusive events, free subscription to the RSL Review magazine, and a free ticket to every RSL public event – around twenty a year. 

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEBeveridge


A podcast of this event is available to download from Can Literature Solve Poverty?

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

Twitter and Facebook

You can get immediate notification on the availability of an event podcast by following LSE public lectures and events on Twitter, which will also inform you about the posting of transcripts and videos, the announcement of new events and other important event updates. Event updates and other information about what's happening at LSE can be found on the LSE's Facebook page.


This event has been certified for CPD purposes by the CPD Certification Service. Self-Assessment Record forms will be made available for delegates wishing to record further learning and knowledge enhancement for Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPD) purposes. For delegates who wish to obtain a CPD Certificate of Attendance, it is the responsibility of delegates to register their details with a LSE steward at the end of the event and as of 1 September 2014 a certificate will be sent within 28 days of the date of the event attended by the CPD Certification Service.  If a delegate fails to register their details at the event, it will not prove possible to issue a certificate. (For queries relating to CPD Certificates of attendance after a request please phone 0208 840 4383 or email

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend that if you plan to attend this event you check back on this listing on the day of the event.