About Us


The Mechanics’ Institute Review (MIR) is a forum for the most exciting new writing in short fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction.

Consisting of an online platform, a printed literary magazine and a series of creative writing events and career-developing opportunities, MIR is a contemporary magazine designed to represent the quality and diversity of the UK literary scene.

This site is managed by Project Director, Julia Bell, and Managing Editor, Melanie Jones, and maintained and edited by a rotating group of Birkbeck students, alumni and staff. Work is selected by an editorial committee which, consists of authors Toby Litt, Steve Willey, Benjamin Wood, editor Sue Tyley and a series of guest authors, agents and publishing professionals.

This platform is not just for Birkbeck College students and alumni. We want to hear from as many talented writers as possible from across the UK. This is your chance to have your work read by leading professional writers. Selected authors will be copy-edited, published online and invited to read their work at MIR Live events.

Birkbeck College was founded in 1823 by George Birkbeck and, on the 2nd of December, 2,000 people flocked to the Crown and Anchor Tavern on the Strand. Together, they witnessed Dr Birkbeck and his supporters launch London’s first ever Mechanics’ Institution dedicated to the education of working people. Now in its 13th year, the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck has developed a reputation for producing published writers of the highest artistic standard. MIR echoes our ethos of inclusion.


Julia Bell

Project Director and Creative Non Fiction Editor


Julia Bell is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck. She is the author of three novels, most recently The Dark Light, the co-editor of The Creative Writing Coursebook as well as three volumes of short stories, the latest being The Sea in Birmingham.

Toby Litt

Short Fiction Editor


Toby is a short story writer, novelist and non-fiction writer. He has also written comics and opera libretti. He teaches Creative Writing at Birkbeck.

Stephen Willey

Poetry Editor


Stephen Willey is a poet, researcher and critic, and as an organiser of several London based poetry readings (Openned, Benefits, Watadd) is committed to the development of dynamic poetry communities both in the UK and internationally.

Melanie Jones

Managing Editor


Melanie graduated from the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA in 2015. She is the Managing Editor of MIROnline and a member of the MIRLive Team. She was a member of the editorial team for The Mechanics' Institute Review, Issue 12.

Sue Tyley: Lead Editor, print anthology. Fran Lock: Guest Poetry Editor.

Our team of volunteers includes Peter Coles, Kate Ellis, Louise Hare, Shaniqua Harris, Alison Hitchcock, Elinor Johns, James Kennedy, Stella Klein, Valeria Melchioretto, Lauren Miller, Paola Moretti, Lyndsey Seaborn, Katherine Vik and Kate Whiteside.