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Department of English Studies

Creative Writing

Running alongside our literary research, the Department supports and develops work in creative writing. Current published creative writers in the Department include:

  • Dr Paul Batchelor. Author of one full length poetry collection, The Sinking Road (2008), and a chapbook, The Love Darg (publication due in mid-2014). Winner of the Times Stephen Spender Prize for Translation and the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Prize.
  • Dr Vidyan Ravinthiran. His first book of verse, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and his poems have also appeared in several anthologies and in a range of newspapers and magazines.
  • Professor Michael O'Neill. Author of three collections of poetry: The Stripped Bed (1990), Wheel (2008), and Gangs of Shadow (2014). Winner of an Eric Gregory Award in 1983 and a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in 1990.
  • Professor Claire Harman. An award-winning writer and critic, author of five major literary biographies.

The Department runs a Creative Writing MA, which teaches students to cultivate the craft of writing prose fiction and developing a poetic voice.

In addition to formal teaching of creative writing, our strong research culture has attracted numerous well-known authors to Durham to discuss their work through public lectures or seminars. Past visiting authors include Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, Booker-prize-winner A.S. Byatt, and the poet Paul Muldoon.

Other Creative Writing Connections

The Department is involved in various other University and external groups that support writers. These include:

  • The Centre for Poetry and Poetics. Based in the Department, this runs a number of events each term, including open-mic nights and talks by established poets.
  • Durham University Creative Writing Society. A group for students to develop their work in a friendly setting.
  • The Bubble. Student-run online magazine that publishes creative writing and reviews.
  • New Writing North. Writing development agency for the North-east, which runs workshops, lectures, competitions and magazines. The Department works with New Writing North to develop Durham Book Festival.
  • Durham Book Festival. Annual festival bringing well-known authors to Durham, including the Festival Poet Laureate appointed by the Department; the Festival includes workshops and networking events for aspiring authors.

Successful Students

Several of our students have gone on to achieve success and recognition with their published creative work. Recent notable successes include:

  • John Clegg won the Society of Authors 2013 Eric Gregory Award for his first book of poetry, Antler. John can be heard reading from and discussing his work in this READ podcast.
  • Lauren Owen published her debut novel, The Quick, to great acclaim. It was praised by Hilary Mantel as 'a sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre.'
  • Alice Oseman has a two-book deal with Harper Collins, following the success of her first novel, Solitaire.


Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies

MA in Creative Writing

The Centre for Poetry and Poetics

Durham's Centre for Poetry and Poetics is based in the Department of English Studies.
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