This year marks the 50th anniversary of the teaching of Creative Writing as a subject at the University of East Anglia, which pioneered the first Creative Writing degree in the UK in 1970.
In the last 50 years Creative Writing has become an industry. There are now over 100 MAs in the UK, along with an estimated 10,000 non-institutional Creative Writing courses and writing groups. Even so, the impact of UEA’s programme on the literary landscape over the last half century is difficult to overstate.
UEA Creative Writing alumni include three Booker Prize winners and dozens of leading authors: Ian McEwan, Anne Enright, Louise Doughty, Emma Healey, Tash Aw, Ayobami Adebayo, John Boyne and Tracy Chevalier to name but a few. In 2017, the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature was awarded to alumnus Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, OBE.
Faculty and visiting professors have included Rose Tremain, Angela Carter, Lorna Sage, Andrew Motion, Amit Chaudhuri, Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Preti Taneja and Caryl Phillips. In 2012, the programme was awarded the UK’s most prestigious Higher Education award, a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, in recognition of its excellence in delivering at a world-class level.
For 2020/21, the highlight of our ambitious plans to mark our anniversary is a major Arts Council England-funded project, Future and Form, for which we will commission six leading writers to work with creative technology pioneers and key cultural organisations, to investigate the future and form of literature and story-telling in a digital age. Ayòbámi Adébáyò, Mona Arshi, Tash Aw, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Mitch Johnson and James McDermott are among the writers who will develop exciting and innovative projects, which will be then be displayed in a multi-venue interactive exhibition in spring 2021.
We have also embarked on a five-year programme to bring writers from around the world to UEA with our International Chair of Creative Writing project, which will also support new global writing talent through a generous programme of scholarships.
The official launch of UEA’s 50th anniversary of Creative Writing will take place at the landmark Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich on 1st October. In attendance will be a range of prominent writers, publishers and journalists, as well as our supporters and donors to our scholarship programme. This will be followed by UEA Live, a series of live literature events running throughout the academic year.