Cheltenham was recently voted the best place to live in Britain, and it especially suits aspiring writers. The Cheltenham Literature Festival is the oldest literature festival in the world and recent guests have included Richard Ford, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and J.K. Rowling. The University works in partnership with the Literature Festival and every year a number of free tickets are made available to students. We also have close links with the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, which is run by one of our Alumni. In 2014 the performers included many University of Gloucestershire students and graduates: Angela France, Danielle Schlosser, Emmy Summers, Lizzie Rogers, Adam Magee, Avril Staple, Caitlin Clarke, Josh Martin, and others. We also work with Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre; playwriting students have their work read by professional actors under the supervision of the Everyman’s creative director, and in 2013 a student-written play, Smoke Rings, ran at the theatre to sell out audiences. Gloucestershire has a literary tradition that includes Dennis Potter, Laurie Lee, and the Dymock Poets, and today the University is part of an active writing culture. There are regular open mic nights at which students read their own work, read their favourite writer’s work, or just sit back with a drink and listen. Meanwhile, the Creative Writing Student Society organises discussions, theme nights, and socials. Cheltenham also boasts some exceptional second hand bookstores.
Creative Writing is taught as part of the University of Gloucestershire’s Media, Arts, and Technologies faculty. This faculty includes students working in other creative industries: illustration, fine art, creative media, popular music, performing arts, radio production, screenwriting, and journalism. There are opportunities to collaborate with students on other courses; for example, radio production specialists record some of our students’ plays and stories. In the 2015 Guardian League table, the University of Gloucestershire was ranked 16th in the whole of the UK for English and Creative Writing. In addition to the Creative Writing staff, Francis Close Hall Campus is a base for experts on everything from crime fiction and children’s fiction to Shakespeare and Milton. The ivy-covered campus building is itself suggestive of a gothic novel.
In the last five years, seven University of Gloucestershire graduates have gone on to publish books and many more students and graduates are publishing poetry and short stories regularly in journals such as Envoi, Acumen, Agenda, Iota, The London Magazine, and Magma. Students and graduates have won or been shortlisted for a range of literary prizes including The Lightship International Poetry Prize, the Arvon Poetry Prize, The Guardian Short Story Prize, The Bridport Prize, The Cinnamon Press Prize, and The Templar Poetry Pamphlet Prize. Another graduate, Lucy Tyler, has had her plays produced in Europe and America. Our graduates work in many different fields, including teaching, publishing, and arts administration. At least eleven students have progressed to PhD study.
Find out more about studying Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire.