Corfu Literary Festival started as a small-scale labour of love has already grown into something more serious and wonderful. One of the things that makes the Festival so special is the way that it has harnessed diverse energies whose common theme is a love of Corfu, great books and the good life. We recognised that, particularly with Niko now gone, we needed to think a lot about the future, identity and legacy of the Festival that goes beyond the two of us.
We decided to create a board of ambassador patrons and approached four inspirational women who had already embraced the CLF, have been nothing other than supportive and, critically, understand the Festival's aims and soul. Each quite brilliant, they will push us forward and make us laugh.
Sarah Churchwell is a Professor in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanitities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where is director of the UK's national festival of the humanities, Being Human. Her books include Behold America: A History of America First and the American Dream, Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of the The Great Gatsby and The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. She comments regularly on arts, culture and politics for TV, radio and film documentaries and has judged many literary prized, including the Man Booker Prize and Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction. She was a co-winner of the 2015 Eccles British Library Writer's Award and named by Prospect magazine as one the the world's Top Fifty Thinkers in 2019. Her latest book, The Wrath To Come: Gone With The Wind and the Myth of the Lost Cause, will be published in 2022.
Elena Karoumpi has been professionally active in the fields of Hospitality, Food Service, Conference & Event Planning in the U.K., Thailand and Greece for 30 years. Co-owner of Olive Retreat Acharavi Villas, Corfu, she is also a Real Estate Broker She is elected Council Member and Member of the Women Entrepreneurship Committee of Corfu Chamber of Commerce, Vice-President of the Department of Small and Medium Sized Companies and is a Member of both Gender Equality Consultation Committees for the Region of Ionian Islands and has participated in various seminars on gastronomy, entrepreneurship, tourism and sustainable materials management. Elena is an active member of Soroptimist International Greece, an NGO promoting women empowerment and supporting women and children rights. She holds a Master’s Degree in Tourism Planning and Development from Surrey University and a Bachelor Degree in English & American Literature from Aristotle University, Thessaloniki and speaks four languages.
Gail Lynch has worked in various roles in UK publishing since 1984, including at BBC Books, Picador, Chatto & Windus, Jonathan Cape, Granta Books, Heinemann, HarperCollins, Frances Lincoln and Oneworld. She is now a freelance consultant working with independent publishers and is Managing Director and co-owner of illustrated book publisher Pimpernel Press and a board director at children's publisher Otter-Barry Books. Gail has been having a long affair with Corfu since the early 1980s.
Sofka Zinovieff was born in London, has Russian ancestry and is deeply attached to Greece. She studied social anthropology at Cambridge, did research for her PhD in the Peloponnese and worked as a freelance journalist in Moscow and Rome. Her latest book is Putney, an explosive and thought-provoking novel about the far-reaching repercussions of an illicit relationship between a young girl and a much older man. She is also the author of a memoir, Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens and a novel set in Greece, The House on Paradise Street. Other books include Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life and The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me. She lives between Athens and London.