“We can admire Swain’s combinations of economy, quizzicality, and depth-charge enquiry…” – New Welsh Review

Kelley Swain is a writer and academic. She has been an art & culture critic for The Lancet medical journal since 2014, and is the author of numerous books, including poetry and fiction. From Nov 2022, she’s been undertaking a funded PhD in Art & Health at UTAS.

40 South has published my first ‘Australian’ piece of writing! Read it here.

Ophelia Swam, published June 2021, is a Blackwell’s Bestseller! The first print run is sold out, and a second print run is now in store. Free worldwide shipping, only available via Blackwell’s – buy it here (there is stock in store at Oxford, so reach out to customer service if you need to). My first novel, Double the Stars, is also currently available in a special-edition second print run, only at Blackwell’s.

This Tudor Gothic novel is illustrated by Eleanor Crook, who calls it: “a novel about Renaissance medicine, early anatomy, herbalism, wayward nuns, murder, romantic disasters, ruined priories and witchcraft “.

2021: I’m fortunate to be one of 20 writers selected by the Australian Society of Authors for a year-long mentorship programme in all genres, over the course of which I’ll be preparing my next poetry manuscript.

2019: Endless Forms Most Beautiful, a song cycle setting a selection of poems from Darwin’s Microscope to music written by composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, debuted with a sold-out performance at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, on 18th October. Music: Carola Darwin, soprano, and Gildas Quartet.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful received 4 out of 5 stars in The Times,described as a “shrewd, witty, and imaginative song cycle”. 

It was performed in a sold-out gig at Cambridge at Kettle’s Yard, on 28th November 2019.

The Naked Muse (Valley Press, 2016,) was hailed by the TLS as “an insightful, lyrical memoir which sheds light on the role of nude models depicted by artists throughout the centuries, illuminating both their immortality and invisibility”.

2016: I was one of the first three poets-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. An interview at Scientia Crastina gives some insight into poetry & science residencies.

I also write and teach in the field of Medical and Health Humanities, and I’ve worked for Imperial College London, Duke University, and the University of Reading. I write regularly for The Lancet medical journals.