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Creative Writing and Practice-based Research


The English Department at Royal Holloway promotes the development of world-class work in Creative Writing and Practice-based Research. This ranges from high-profile prize-winning publications to a variety of pioneering experimental poetry and cross-media activities.

Staff are  continually producing award-winning novels and poetry anthologies, alongside teaching. Successes include Professor Jo Shapcott, who was awarded both the Costa Prize for Poetry and the Costa Book Prize (2011), for her poetry collection, Of Mutability. Shapcott has also won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry (2014). Susanna Jones was awarded the Jerwood Foundation/ Fiction Uncovered residency at the Toji Foundation in Korea (2014).  Professor Adam Roberts won the the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) best novel prize (2013) for his book Jack Glass. Professor Ben Markovits was included in the Granta List of Best British Novelists under 40 (2013), has been an Eccles Centre Fellow, and won the James Tait Black Prize in 2016 for You Don't Have to Live Like This. Dr Redell Olsen was elected to the Judith E. Wilson Poetry Fellowship at Cambridge for 2013-14. Professor Robert Hampson was long-listed for the Forward Prize (2013) for his volume, Reworked Disasters.

Members of the Department work to promote and develop the creative writing and practice-based research community both in the College and beyond. Dr Douglas Cowie ran the Lunchtime Reading series at Royal Holloway for four years and is currently co-curator of Literary Kitchen Festival, funded by the Arts Council and showcasing a range of poets, performers, musicians and artists. The Poetics Research Centre, directed by Dr. Redell Olsen and including Professor Robert Hampson and Dr. Will Montgomery develops and promotes strands of experimental, cross-genre and multimedia writing through a number of events and cross-institutional platforms. This includes the performance series POLYply, which ran for four years and showcased over 150 performers, as well as the ongoing spin-off series, POLYprojects, run by Dr. Will Montgomery, that explores the intersection of poetry and sound art, with particular emphasis on text scores, improvisation and field recordings. Professor Robert Hampson has hosted the reading series, Amid the Ruins, and continues to run the Contemporary Innovative Poetry Seminar Series in Central London. And the Practice-based PhD Programme, directed to 2016 by Dr. Kristen Kreider, includes workshops, seminars and talks including a lecture series dedicated to exploring different modes of creative critical writing. 

The Department's uniquely diverse range of expertise, evident in staff research and impact activities, is also reflected in the pedagogical strands running through the MA in Creative Writing. The MA in Creative Writing offers pathways in Fiction, Poetry and Poetic Practice. The Fiction and Poetry strands have excellent links with publishers and literary agents, with highly acclaimed graduates including Jenni Fagan and Tahmima Anam, both included in the Granta List of Best British Novelists under 40 (2013); Liz Berry, who won the Forward for Best First Collection (2008) and winner of National Poetry Competition (2011); Sam Riviere and Declan Ryan, both selected for Faber New Poets scheme; Diriye Osman, who won the Polari Prize (2014); and Kayo Chingonyi, represented Zambia at the Poetry Parnassus (2012). Other high-profile and award-winning writers include Liza Klaussmann (British National Book Award), Sarah Perry (shortlisted for Guardian First Book Award, 2014, Gladstone Library writer in residence 2013), Emma Chapman (longlist Dylan Thomas Prize, 2013). Work by students on the MA in Creative Writing is also published in a bi-annual anthology, Bedford Square. The Poetic Practice pathway encourages creative practice within the context both of current experimental practices in the UK and US and of related developments in visual art, sound art and performance with graduates including Prudence Chamberlain, current Poet in Residence at University of Surrey (2015-16), Sophie Robinson, currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at University of East Anglia, and Steve Willey, currently Lecturer in Creative and Critical Writing at Birkbeck.

The Department also supports a significant body of postgraduate students developing Practice-based PhDs and welcomes applications from persons interested in pursuing this mode of research. Please see descriptions and areas of interest of staff members involved in supervision (below) as well as relevant information on the Creative Writing and Practice-based PhD page.

Research Staff

Dr Prue Bussey-ChamberlainBA, MA and PHD (London): Main research interests are contemporary poetry; American writing from 1950s onwards; New Narrative and Lyric Writing; queer theory and feminism. She is the co-author of House of Mouse (2016), and has two solo-authored collections forthcoming: Coteries with Knives, Forks and Spoons Press (2017) and Retroviral with Oystercatcher Press (2017). Her poetry reviews have featured in Poetry ReviewHix Eros, and The Shearsman Review. An interdisciplinary practitioner, she has also published sociological research, including The Fourth Wave of Feminism Affective Temporality (2017), and articles on contemporary feminism in both Gender and Education(2016) and Social Movement Studies (2014).

Dr. Douglas Cowie, BA (Colgate University, New York) MA, PHD (University of East Anglia), is primarily a fiction writer. He is the author of two novels, Owen Noone and the Marauder (Canongate, 2005), and Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago (Myriad Editions, 2016), as well as two novellas, Sing for Life: Tin Pan Alley (Black Hill Press, 2013), and Sing for Life: Away, You Rolling River (Black Hill Press, 2014). His main literary interests are American poetry and fiction of the 20th Century, in particular the work of Nelson Algren, and literature about music, especially rock 'n' roll. He also has an interest in the history of Germany, in particular the history of the German Democratic Republic. 

Professor Lavinia Greenlaw MA (Courtauld Institute), PG Dip (London College of Printing), BA (Kingston). Research interests include contemporary poetry and prose, and an interdisciplinary approach to perception and making/reading the image. Her poetry includes The Casual Perfect (Faber 2011) and A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde (Faber 2014). Her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover (Flamingo 2001), received France’s Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. Her third, In the City of Love’s Sleep, will appear from Faber in 2018. Her two books of creative non-fiction are The Importance of Music to Girls (Faber 2007) and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland (Notting Hill Editions 2011). Her immersive sound work, Audio Obscura, a study of interrupted perception, won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award. In 2016, she wrote and directed a short film, The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, an exploration of dementia and the present tense. She taught at Goldsmiths College before becoming Professor of Poetry at UEA (2007-2013). She is writing a book about seeing and not seeing further.

Professor Robert Hampson, BA (London), MA (Toronto), PhD (London), FEA, FRSA. In addition to his work on Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford – which includes the monographs Joseph Conrad: Identity and Betrayal (Macmillan, 1992), Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad’s Malay Fiction (Macmillan, 2000), and Conrad’s Secrets (forthcoming); the co-edited collections Ford Madox Ford: A Reappraisal (with Tony Davenport, 2002), and Ford Madox Ford and Modernity (with Max Saunders, 2003); and various Penguin editions, he has had a long involvement in contemporary poetry as both a critic and practitioner. He co-edited The New British poetries (with Peter Barry, 1993) and Frank O’Hara Now (with Will Montgomery, 2010).  His own poetry has been published since the 1970s. Stride published Assembled Fugitives: Selected Poems, 1973-1998 in 2001, and Shearsman re-published his long poem Seaport in 2008. His most recent poetry publication is the sequence an explanation of colours, which was published by Veer in 2010.

Susanna JonesBA (RHUL, University of London), MA (Manchester).  Susanna Jones is the author of four novels: The Earthquake Bird (2001), Water Lily (2003), The Missing Person's Guide to Love (2007) and When Nights Were Cold (2012) and was editor of The Illustrated Brighton Moment (2008). She has published short stories for BBC Radio 4 and written book reviews and articles for the GuardianNew StatesmanLiterary ReviewMonocle, the Observer and other publications. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages and won awards including: the CWA John Creasey Dagger (2001), John Llewellyn Rhys Award (2001), Betty Trask Award (2002), Book of the Year (for the Hungarian translation, 2004) and Fiction Uncovered (2012). She was awarded the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Residency in 2014 to work at the Toji Foundation in South Korea. Research interests include the psychological thriller, historical fiction, mountains and mountaineering in literature, contemporary literature of Japan and South Korea.

Dr. Nikita Lalwani Nikita's first novel GIFTED was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. It has been translated into 16 languages. In June 2008 Nikita Lalwani won the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction, which she donated to human rights organisation Liberty. Lalwani was born in Rajasthan and raised in Cardiff. In In 2013 she was a judge for the book section of the Orwell Prize, Britain's most prestigious prize for political writing. Lalwani appeared on the ITV panel show THE AGENDA with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in 2014 and was previously interviewed on the BBC current affairs programme HARDtalk. She is a trustee of Liberty and also works with English PEN.

Ben Markovits, BA (Yale), MPhil (Oxford) has published five novels, The Syme Papers (Faber, 2004), Either Side of Winter (Faber, 2005), Imposture (Faber, 2007), A Quiet Adjustment (Faber, 2008), and Playing Days (Faber, 2010), a novel about the world of minor league basketball. Childish Loves (Faber, 2011), the final novel in his trilogy about Lord Byron (which includes Imposture and A Quiet Adjustment) will be published in August. He was awarded a fellowship to the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies in 2009, and won a Pushcart Prize for his short story 'Another, Sad, Bizarre Chapter in Human History'. He has published essays, stories, poetry and reviews on subjects ranging from the Romantics to American sports in The Guardian, Granta, Slate, The Paris Review, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Dr. Will Montgomery works on contemporary poetry and poetics. He is the author of The Poetry of Susan Howe: History, Theology, Authority (Palgrave, 2010) and he co-edited (with Robert Hampson) Frank O'Hara Now: New Essays on the New York Poet (Liverpool UP, 2010). He has published many articles on contemporary poetry and is a member of the Poetics Research Centre at Royal Holloway. He is also involved, as both critic and practitioner, in contemporary experimental music, field recording and sound art.

Dr. Redell Olsen, BA (Camb), MA (Staffs), PhD (London).  Publications include: ‘Book of the Fur’ (Rempress, 2000), ‘Secure Portable Space’ (Reality Street, 2004) and the collaboratively edited ‘Here Are My Instructions’ (Gefn Press, 2004). She is the editor of the online journal How2 which publishes modernist and innovative poetry and poetics by women writers. Recent work is available in ‘Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets’ (Shearsman, 2010) and ‘I’ll Drown My Book: ‘Conceptual Writing by Women” (Les Figues Press, 2011). Her recent projects have involved texts for performance and film and include: ‘Newe Booke of Copies’ (2009) and ‘Bucolic Picnic (or Toile de Jouy Camouflage)’ (2009). ‘The Lost Swimming Pool ‘; a site-specific collaboration was commissioned by the Creative Campus Initiative, June 2010. She has recently published articles on Frank O’Hara, Abigail Child and the relationship between contemporary poetics and the visual arts. She is a member of the RHUL Poetics Research Group and a co-ordinator of POLYply reading series at the Centre for Creative Collaboration, University of London. 

Professor Adam Roberts, MA (Aberdeen), PhD (Cantab): The author of twelve novels, all science fiction, as well as a number of parodies and other works; his most recent fiction is Yellow Blue Tibia (Gollancz 2009) and New Model Army (2010).  He had published several critical works on SF, including Science Fiction (Routledge 2000) and the Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Palgrave 2006).  He also has research interests in nineteenth-century literature, and has published a number of critical editions and studies on Romantic and Victorian themes.

Jo Shapcott, MA (Trinity College, Dublin), BA (Oxford), FRSL, FEA.  Poet Jo Shapcott  is the current President of The Poetry Society.  Her Book: Poems 1988-1998 (2000), consists of a selection of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). She is co-editor (with Linda Anderson) of a collection of essays about Elizabeth Bishop and co-editor with Matthew Sweeney of an anthology of contemporary poetry, Emergency Kit. Her latest book of poems Of Mutability, was published in 2010, shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize and was awarded the Costa Prize for Book of the Year. She is co-investigator and project poet for The Faerie Queene Now, Royal Holloway’s AHRC-funded research programme.

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