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SMALL FIRES : An Epic in the Kitchen was published in August 2022 by Pushkin Press (UK). Small Fires received reviews in The ObserverThe Sunday Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the i Paper and The New Statesman. I read from it on BBC Radio 3. It was shortlisted for Foyles Nonfiction Book of the Year 2022. 

Small Fires, An Epic in the Kitchen comes out in the US on June 6th 2023 – pre-order here!

I write dinner document newsletter with short essays, diary entries and recipes in text and audio: subscribe to dinner document by Rebecca May Johnson

I am an editor at Vittles.

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Portrait by Sophie Davidson 2022.


I am represented by Harriet Moore at David Higham Associates 

my email:

About me:

I earned a PhD in Contemporary Literature from UCL in 2016. The monograph based on my research into a rewriting of The Odyssey by German poet Barbara Köhler was published in 2019 by University of London Press.

In December 2020 I was awarded a Society of Authors grant to support the writing of SMALL FIRES. I was awarded a John R. Murray Creative Writing Residency at the British School in Rome in September 2021. In 2020 I was nominated for an Arts Foundation Environmental Writing Fellowship by Granta. My writing has appeared in Granta, The Photographer’s Gallery, The Happy Reader, Luncheon, Tribune, The Plant, Times Literary Supplement, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Grub Zine, and others. The Food Memory Bank was a public archive of food memories I set up and ran for a few years. Dinner Document blog was my recipe diary 2011-2021, since January 2022 it’s been a newsletter on Substack.

Some Recent Work

The Canteen, in London Feeds Itself (book edited by Jonathan Nunn)

What happened when I began to treat cooking like thinking, an essay for the FT Magazine

Not Cooking in Rome, an essay about pizza time and the streets in Rome as canteen, for The London Magazine

On Sandwiches, for The Guardian

The Recipe, an extract of SMALL FIRES in Granta magazine (issue 160)

The recipe for blue was red, my essay in issue 5 of arts journal Bricks from the Kiln (buy here)

A Palace for the People, an essay about popcorn and cinemas, for Pipe Wrench

Against Roast Chicken, an Hors D’Oeuvres Theory of Cooking  in the anthology In the Kitchen: Essays on Food and Life (Daunt)

Qualities of Earth an essay in Granta

I Dream of Canteens an essay on canteens

A Partial List of Rome a list-essay about Rome

On Weeds in the London Review of Books online

TENANCY: on recipes an essay for MAP magazine

An Essay on The Erotics of Culinary Knowledge for Vittles

Crunching Delicately on M.F.K Fisher’s Gastronomical Me and a biography of Patience Gray in the Times Literary Supplement

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Photo: Sophie Davidson