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Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin elected new Chair of the Board of the Society of Authors – Press Release

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Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, novelist and founder of, takes over from Joanne Harris to begin two-year term as Chair of the SoA’s board of directors.

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who writes crime as Irish bestseller Sam Blake, has been unanimously elected Chair of the Society of Authors’ Management Committee – the SoA’s member-elected board of directors and charity trustees – at their January 2024 meeting. The position has been held since 2020 by Joanne Harris, who has now come to the end of her second two-year term.

The Management Committee meet six times a year to govern the direction of the SoA. Twelve elected members, alongside the chairs of professional and nation groups – including the Translators Association, the Children’s Writers & Illustrators Group, and the Society of Authors in Scotland – are responsible for setting the strategy and policies of the organisation.

Vanessa is founder of the Inkwell Group publishing consultancy, Europe’s biggest online writing resources magazine, and Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival. She has served on the Management Committee since 2019 and was previously the Chair of Irish PEN.

Credit: Alice-Rose Jordan

Commenting on her appointment, Vanessa said, ‘This will be a year of change for the SoA, as we welcome a new Chief Executive in April and a new Honorary President later in 2024. But change is exciting and having worked with the staff team over the past few years I know their strength is adapting to the issues that impact members – their support and advocacy is at the forefront of everything they do. It is a great privilege to take on this role from Joanne, and I look forward to working with board members and the staff team on the challenges ahead. We are seeing many already – from AI to falling incomes, not to mention cyber-attacks on the institutions that pay authors. I can’t wait to get started.’

During Joanne’s two terms as Chair, membership grew by 13% to 12,400, we navigated the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, awarded more than ever in grants to authors in need and to support new work, and campaigned on piracy, author incomes, artificial intelligence, and more.

Reflecting on her time in the role, Joanne said, ‘It has been an honour to serve as Chair of the SoA for the past four years. I’m very proud of the progress we have made together: greater diversity and accessibility; online events; new prizes; the millions given out by the Contingency Fund; the steady increase in members. And good luck to Vanessa in her new role. It has been a pleasure to work with her over the past few years. With her years of experience of advocating for authors in the UK and Ireland I am confident I’m leaving the board in very safe hands.’

Empowering authors since 1884.

The SoA is the UK’s largest trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. We have been advising individuals and speaking out for the profession for more than a century.

Members receive unlimited free advice on all aspects of the profession, including confidential clause-by-clause contract vetting, and a wide range of exclusive offers.

We campaign and lobby on the issues that affect authors and hold a hundreds of events annually across the UK and online. Find out more about membership.

The SoA also administers grants and prizes to support and celebrate authors at all stages of their careers.

We administer many literary estates, the income from which helps fund our work.

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