Ox-Tales refers to four anthologies of short stories written by 38 of the UK's best-known authors. All donated their stories to Oxfam. The books and stories are loosely based on the four elements: Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

The Ox-Tales books were published in partnership with Green Profile[1][2] to raise revenue for Oxfam projects tackling poverty around the world.[3] Oxfam receives a percentage of the cover price of each book sold (£3.50 per book if bought directly from an Oxfam shop or Oxfam's website[4] and 50p if the books are purchased through other retailers).


The themes of the collections are intended to represent four aspects of Oxfam's work:

Each book contains a poem by Vikram Seth and an afterword written by Oxfam, detailing their work in that area.


38 British and Irish based authors contributed to this project.

Earth: Rose Tremain, Jonathan Coe, Marti Leimbach, Kate Atkinson, Ian Rankin, Marina Lewycka, Hanif Kureishi, Jonathan Buckley, Nicholas Shakespeare, Vikram Seth.

Air: Alexander McCall Smith, Helen Simpson, DBC Pierre, AL Kennedy, Kamila Shamsie, Beryl Bainbridge, Louise Welsh, Diran Adebayo, Helen Fielding, Vikram Seth.

Water: Esther Freud, David Park, Hari Kunzru, Zoë Heller, Michel Faber, William Boyd, Giles Foden, Joanna Trollope, Michael Morpurgo, Vikram Seth.

Fire: Mark Haddon, Geoff Dyer, Victoria Hislop, Sebastian Faulks, John Le Carré, Xiaolu Guo, William Sutcliffe, Ali Smith, Lionel Shriver, Jeanette Winterson, Vikram Seth.

Publication details

Ox-Tales were published by Green Profile[2] (a section of Profile Books[9]) on 2 July 2009. They were originally published to mark the start of Oxfam's first annual book festival - "Bookfest"[10] (4–18 July 2009).


In Autumn 2009, the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) recommended Ox-Tales to its readers as "enjoyable, thought-provoking reading for you and also for older students — well worth a place in the secondary school stock cupboard for KS4 of KS5."[11]

NATE reprinted Marina Lewycka's story "The Importance of Having Warm Feet" from the Ox-Tales: Earth collection in the October 2009 edition of their magazine, Classroom.[11][12]


  1. ^ "Green Books Campaign: Ox-Tales Earth", Iris on Books, 10 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b Green Profile Archived May 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Oxfam GB | leading UK charity fighting global poverty". Oxfam GB. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  4. ^ Oxfam's Online Store
  5. ^ Oxfam GB: Land Rights in Africa
  6. ^ Oxfam GB: Combatting Climate Change
  7. ^ Oxfam GB: Campaigning for Arms Control
  8. ^ Oxfam GB: Water and Sanitation
  9. ^ "Stimulating non-fiction from one of the UK's top independent publishers - Profile Books". profilebooks.com. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  10. ^ Oxfam GB: Bookfest
  11. ^ a b Talking Books — Oxfam's Books Blog
  12. ^ Classroom magazine, Issue #9, October 2009.