Who we are
ReLit is the brainchild of authors Paula Byrne and Jonathan Bate. Our mission is to practise and research Bibliotherapy, the ancient art of book-healing. Two and a half thousand years ago, Aeschylus, the father of dramatic literature, claimed that “words are the physicians of a mind diseased.” We invite you to join us on the journey to discover whether you, your loved ones, and others going through life’s difficult times can be relit by the best words that have been written through the ages by the best authors.
Paula has taught English and Drama at school, further education and university levels. She has written two novels (Look to your Wife and Mirror, Mirror) and several bestselling biographies, including The Real Jane Austen, Belle: The True Story behind the Movie, Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead and Kick: The True Story of JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth. She is currently dividing her time between writing a biography of the novelist Barbara Pym and her role as Founder and Lead Practitioner of ReLit. Her website is www.paulabyrne.com
Jonathan is a well-known literary scholar, broadcaster, critic and creative writer (jonathanbate.com). The author of many books on Shakespeare, he has written prize-winning biographies of the poets John Clare and Ted Hughes. His most recent book is Radical Wordsworth: The Poet who changed the World. He has also written a novel, The Cure for Love; Being Shakespeare, a one-play for Simon Callow that had three runs in London's West End and a tour to New York and Chicago; and a volume of poems, The Shepherd's Hut, with royalties going to ReLit.
Andrew is our lead medical practitioner and was one of the editors of our anthology Stressed Unstressed. A busy GP in an inner city practice in the NHS, he also teaches doctors and medical students. He has always loved reading (and occasionally writing) poetry – often to escape the pressures of work. An insomniac, he does most of his reading between the hours of one and three a.m. You can read about his The Poetry of Medicine project at this website
Dr Sally Bayley directed the ReLit Oxford Summer School and has led many workshops on creative writing and mindful reading. She is the author of two highly acclaimed memoirs, Girl with Dove: A Life Built by Books and No Boys Play Here, as well as books on Sylvia Plath andThe Private Life of the Diary.
Rachael completed her undergraduate degree at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, graduating with first class honours in English Literature. She spent a year working at the University of Warwick, on the first run of ReLit's online course Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing, before studying for an MSt in English, 1550-1700, at St John's College, Oxford. Now a DPhil candidate at Oxford, working on theories of genre in pre-Shakespearean drama, Rachael monitors the ReLit email account and updates the main and Summer School websites.
Dr Jennifer Wild is a consultant clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Oxford. Her area of expertise is in treatment development and evaluation, specifically, the research and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. Jennifer has developed brief interventions to modify predictors of risk to protect emergency workers from developing PTSD and depression. She regularly appears in the media giving expert advice on trauma-related problems. The documentary, Vertigo Road Trip, in which she treats five people with severe height anxiety, aired on BBC One, attracting 2.2 million viewers.
Dr Julie Sutherland is the International Ambassador for ReLit. She also offers professional editing, writing and teaching services through her company In Other Words – Language Animation Services, which is based in Ontario, Canada. Her writing commissions include two online, upper-level Shakespeare modules for Athabasca University in Canada and a week-long course for children on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, requested by the EDventure Society in Cape Breton. She is also the contributing editor to Broadview Press’s most recent edition of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (2014). With degrees in English literature and drama, Dr Sutherland is intensely interested in the capacity of literature—both read and in performance—to effect change in the human spirit. She regularly supports initiatives to destigmatise mental illness and promote mental wellness in the communities in which she lives.
We acknowledge with gratitude a start-up grant from the Tedworth Charitable Trust, the donation of a judge's fee from the Booker Prize Foundation, the huge contribution of the Warwick Business School (via its superb e-learning team) in creating our online course Literature and Mental Health, the generous contribution of Agile Collective to the development of our website, and the contributions - some large, some small, but all deeply appreciated - of individual donors.