Creative Writing School

Filed in Memories

It turned out the Creative Writing School has, over the years, nurtured some of the best-known published writers that include Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. What do you expect of a school that was led by the late Malcolm Bradbury, and later by poet laureate Andrew Motion?

I have a favourite story about the Creative Writing School. It’s the one about the book prize, the teacher and his student.

In 1986, both Malcolm Bradbury and Kazuo Ishiguro had been shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. Ishiguro had been Bradbury’s student at UEA’s Creative Writing School. In the end, student pipped teacher to win the award. The novel? An Artist of the Floating World. Ishiguro went on to write The Remains of the Day which was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

I never bumped into Ishiguro on campus during my three years there but I did see the late Angela Carter giving an open-air tutorial to a small group of students one summer. They were all seated on the grass under a tree on campus.

I also almost rubbed shoulders with Doris Lessing the evening she came to give a talk. It was full house in Lecture Theatre 1 where she was booked to appear and a quick decision had been made to broadcast the talk via television in Lecture Theatre 2 but at the same price as seeing her “live” in LT1. Being the poor student I was then, I decided not to pay to see Lessing on television, but just hung around the LT area. Later, we were in the bookstore when she came in after her talk and I walked close enough to almost rub shoulders with her, and to tell friends about it later.

During my final term at UEA, Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Literature, came on campus to give a reading of her then latest novel Beloved. Unlike the Doris Lessing lecture, it was free. Having read her book The Bluest Eye as part of one of the Women’s Writing courses, I wouldn’t have missed her reading for anything in the world. It remains one of the most memorable events from my time at UEA.

Note – There are lots of links in this post, which I realise may be the equivalent of name-dropping on my part. I don’t actually know any of the people mentioned here, so this isn’t really name-dropping …

(to be cont’d … )