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Ms Julia Hollander

Member of Common Room

Royal Literary Fund Fellow

Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages

MA Philosophy and English Literature, St Catherine’s College, Cambridge


Julia Hollander writes non-fiction that originates in the lived experience, interweaving personal narratives with cutting-edge research. Her first book, Indian Folk Theatres (Routledge, 2009) derived from over a decade of working in India as a stage director and performer.

She went on to write two memoirs about family life, When the Bough Breaks (John Murray, 2010), and Chicken Coops for the Soul (Guardian Books, 2011). More recently, she returned to her performing arts roots with Why We Sing (Atlantic, 2023) an exploration of the way in which singing benefits everyday wellbeing.

Julia’s first career in theatre took her all over the world. She founded the contemporary music theatre company, Operate, and in 1991 was the first ever woman to direct opera productions for the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. As a director, she published numerous book and stage reviews and translations of libretti.

Her plays for BBC radio include a dramatisation of When the Bough Breaks and a drama about climate activism, The Kingsnorth Six (2012), and an autobiographical documentary, The Letter (2019)She has held writing and research fellowships with the Winston Churchill, Judith E. Wilson and Rajiv Gandhi Foundations, and has been writer in residence at Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre.

Running alongside her creative life, and closely allied to it, Julia has always worked freelance as a teacher and mentor, as well as bringing up her two daughters, Ellie and Bea. They are now both embarking on careers in the arts.