the anthology for the best new writing & artwork from the universities of Cambridge & Oxford.

Since 1992, The Mays has published an annual selection of the best and most exciting new writing and artwork from students at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

Based at the University of Cambridge, the anthology is edited by students and published by Varsity Publications.

The Mays is broader in scope than most university literary projects: it is sold in bookstores and by international delivery, and it is distributed to literary agents. Each year invited guest editors — usually prominent authors, poets or artists — contribute a preface to the anthology and take part in the selection process.

See HERE for a list of previous student and guest editors.

Over the years, The Mays has earned a reputation for picking out the brightest new artistic talent. Nick Laird was a former student editor, and The Mays is also widely credited for launching the career of novelist Zadie Smith. Literary agencies first took notice of Smith after seeing her story ‘Mrs. Begum’s Son and the Private Tutor’ in the 1997 collection. When Smith returned to guest edit the Mays in 2001, her quip ‘maybe in a few years this lot will have me out of a job’ offered a proverbial incentive to future contributors.


“I do not think that when I was an undergraduate I was capable of writing any short story that would have been worthy of inclusion in this book. Reading some of these stories for a second time, I am not sure that I am capable now.” Stephen Fry 1994

“I admire all these poems …” Ted Hughes 1995

“Maybe in a few years this lot will have me out of a job” Zadie Smith 2001

“I found the pieces in turn confounding, frustrating, exciting and inspiring” Nick Cave 2002

“A witty book from start to finish” Ali Smith 2003

“It’s encouraging to a lifelong fan of narrative to find such talent among the younger generation” Philip Pullman 2004

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