The best new short stories, poetry, art and creative photography by students from the University of Cambridge and the University of 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.

Three friends at Cambridge, Peter Ho Davies, Adrian Woolfson and Ron Dimant, came together to create The Mays in 1992. Until 2003, the publication was split into two separate anthologies (for prose and poetry), after which point it became a single anthology.

Based at the University of Cambridge, the anthology is still edited by students and published by Varsity Publications Ltd to this day.

The Mays is broader in scope than most university literary projects, it is sold in all major UK bookstores and is available directly from this website too – our online shop can be found here.

Each year invited guest editors, usually prominent writers, musicians, poets or artists, and each contribute a preface to the anthology and take part in the selection process.

Over the years, The Mays has earned a reputation for picking out the brightest new artistic talent. 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. Smith returned to guest edit The Mays in 2001, and pointed out (presciently we hope!) that “maybe in a few years this lot will have me out of a job”.

The student editors for The Mays 32 (2024) are Famke Veenstra-Ashmore (Gonville & Caius) and Leo Kang (Clare). Our Guest Editors this year are Lemn Sissay and Denise Riley.

The Mays 32 is now available to pre-order from our online shop now: Click Here


KATE BUSH (2017) “Full of life, love and expression.”

STEPHEN FRY (1994)  “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.”

RUPI KAUR: (2016) “To create is to be seen and to be seen is to be heard. To be heard is powerful.”

JARVIS COCKER (2011) “Shut out the endless babble of modern life for a few minutes. & savour. & enjoy. I did.”

ARLO PARKS (2021) “To the readers I say be gentle with this art, savour it as strawberries, be inspired and enjoy.”

NICK CAVE (2002)  “I found the pieces in turn confounding, frustrating, exciting and inspiring.”

TED HUGHES (1995)  “I admire all these poems.”

ALI SMITH (2003) “A witty book from start to finish.”

PHILIP PULLMAN (2004) “It’s encouraging to a lifelong fan of narrative to find such talent among the younger generation.”

ROBERT MACFARLANE (2005) “A collection of unfaltering quality.”

DON PATERSON (2006): “Simply one of the most impressive collections of student writing it’s ever been my pleasure to read.”

CLOVER STROUD (2021) “The words I found in every single piece transported me away from where I was. The words enlivened me. They challenged me and consoled me…”

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The Mays is published by Varsity Publications Ltd, University of Cambridge, 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX – for information regarding our privacy policy, please click here.

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