Creative Writing: The story so far…

The upcoming Hillingdon Literary Festival (16-18 October) is a lively weekend of literary events with high-profile writers and poets, including many of our current academic staff and creative writing alumni.. All events are free but you will need to register in advance. The festival is a celebration of all things literary and provides the perfect opportunity for a look back at the history of Creative Writing at Brunel.

Creative Writing has grown from being a small part of the English Literature syllabus to a highly successful subject in its own right; becoming first a pathway, then a joint honours course with English before finally being made a stand along undergraduate course in the academic year 2007/8. With a strong national and international profile, students benefit from learning in a subject area with past and present members  who between them have authored dozens of books in a huge range of genres.

Fay Weldon CBE, world-renowned author of over 30 novels as well as numerous story collections, plays and articles, was Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel from 2006-2012. Always closely associated with feminism, Fay’s novels include The Life and Loves of a She Devil (1983), adapted for BBC television in 1986 and filmed as She-Devil in (1989), The Cloning of Joanna May (1989), which was adapted for television by ITV in 1993, and The Bulgari Connection (2001). Adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2014, some of Fay’s short stories are available through iPlayer.

Benjamin Zephaniah, Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing, is one of the best known poets in the world, author of numerous collections, as well as novels, plays and albums. His most well-loved poetry collections written for a young audience include Talking Turkeys (1995) and Funky Chickens (1997); Benjamin’s novels for teenagers include Gangsta Rap (2004) and Teacher’s Dead (2007); and adults enjoy titles such as Propa Propaganda (1996) and Too Black Too Strong (2001). Benjamin regularly performs his poetry internationally, and gives public talks about poetry, politics and animal rights.

Max Kinnings, Head of Creative Writing, is a novelist and writer of scripts for stage and screen. His novels including “fascinatingly off the wall” thriller Fixer (2002), “greased-lighting thriller” Baptism (2012), currently in development as a feature film by The Philm Company, and Sacrifice (2013). Alleycats, “a tense urban thriller set in the world of illegal bike racing” scripted by Max, is due for release in 2015. A long-term friend of comedian Rik Mayall, Max ghost wrote Rik’s biography Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ (2005).

Celia Brayfield, a novelist and cultural commentator, was vital to the founding and shaping of Brunel’s Creative Writing department. Currently an Associate Reader, Celia’s novels include Pearls (1987), Sunset (1999) and Wild Weekend (2004); she has published three works of non-fiction, and regularly publishes articles for national newspapers and respected literary publications.

Bernardine Evaristo MBE, Professor of Creative Writing, has won multiple awards for her fiction, including the Big Red Read Award for Blonde Roots (2009) and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize for Mr Loverman (2013), which was later optioned by BBC television drama and the London Bush Theatre. As well as eight novels, Bernardine has published poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. In 2009 she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for ‘Being a major voice in the multicultural panorama of multicultural British literature’. Brunel African Poetry Prize

David Fulton, Lecturer in Creative Writing and English, is known for his research into the Anglo-American poet Thom Gunn, which includes ‘“Too Much Birthday Cake”: Gunn and the English Resistance to American Confessional Verse’ for the Symbiosis journal in 1999, as well as other articles on British/American modernist poetry and teaching poetry in creative writing.

Sarah Penny, Lecturer in Creative Writing, emigrated to the UK from South Africa in 2003. She published The Beneficiaries in 2001, which has since been used as the national set text for final year students in South Africa, and The Lies We Shared in 2011, both through Penguin. Sarah is currently part of the Together We Refuse project that uses “dramatherapy and creative writing techniques to open up dialogue between mothers and daughters about the possibility of refusing FGM (female genital mutilation)”, which piloted in Kenya and has now expanded to London and Bristol. Sarah received the Thomson Reuters Community Champion award in 2014 for this work.

Matt Thorne, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, is a novelist, screenwriter and biographer. Author of three books for children, known as the ‘39 Castles’ series, Matt has also published six novels for adults. These include Eight Minutes Idle (2001), which won an Encore Award for Best Second Novel in that year and was adapted for screen in 2013 with the script written by Matt, as well as Cherry (2004) which was long-listed for the Man Booker prize. In 2012, Matt published a biography of the musical artist Prince for Faber and Faber which has been described as “definitive”, “enthusiastic” and “refreshingly candid.”

Described as “master of surprises”, Lecturer in Creative Writing Frazer Lee is an author, director and screenwriter who is well-known in the horror community for films such as the acclaimed Panic Button (2011), for which he wrote the script, and novels like The Lamplighters, nominated for the Bram Stoker Award® ‘Best First Novel’ in 2012.

Stay tuned for part two of our Creative Writing review, where we will look at some of the amazing successes of creative writing students and alumni…


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