Visiting Writers

Visiting Writer Profiles

The English & Creative Writing programme hosts a series of Visiting Writers. These events are open and free to all, so please feel welcome to attend. If you would like to be added to our Visiting Writers mailing list, please email We will then email you with details of each event as they come up. You can also email this address if you have any queries about a particular Visiting Writers event or to book your place.


Academic Year 2016-17

Visiting Writer Creative Writing Course Page Images 2016-17

Tom Vowler

British writer Tom Vowler’s story collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010 and the Edge Hill Readers’ Prize in 2011. His novels, What Lies Within and That Dark Remembered Day, received critical acclaim. His second collection of stories, Dazzling the Gods, is forthcoming in 2017.

Lucy Christopher

Award winning writer, Lucy Christopher, has published three novels for young adults - Stolen, Flyaway, and The Killing Woods - all of which have received international acclaim.

Harry Parker

Author and ex-serviceman Harry Parker drew on his own expeience to write the acclaimed Anatomy of a Soldier. Dr Hayden Gabriel, who leads the BA (Hons) English & Creative Writing course at Marjon said "He has written a remarkable novel in remarkable circumstances".

Seth Lakeman

Seth, folk-singer, song-writer, multi-instrumentalist and Mercury Music Prize nominee joins us in conversation about the song-writing process, interspersed with solo-performances. 


Academic Year 2015-16

Visiting Writer Creative Writing Course Page Images 2015-16

Blake Morrison

Blake Morrison is well known for his huge success with And When Did You Last See Your Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me. And When Did You Last See Your Father? won the JR Ackerley Prize for Autobiograph and he was played by Colin Firth in the film released in 2007.

Blake has written for The Times Literary Supplement and been literary editor of The Observer and The Independent on Sunday. He has contributed articles to The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, the New York Times and Poetry Review and The Guardian.

Philip Marsden

Philip Marsden talked to us about his most recent book, Rising Ground. When he moved to a remote creekside farmhouse in Cornwall, the intensity of his response took Philip aback and led him to a journey westwards to Land's End through one of the most fascinating regions of Europe. Rising Ground is the resulting book that discusses why layers of mythology build up around particular features in a landscape. 

Philip Marsden is an award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, The Levelling Sea and, most recently, Rising Ground (Granta, 2014). Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. 

Marlene Creates

Marlene Creates leads multidisciplinary environmental and place-based art projects with over 2,000 school children in Newfoundland. Marlene showed us her award winning video-poem, From the Ground Tier to a Sparrow Batch. Since the 1970s Marlene’s work has been presented in over 300 solo and group exhibitions across Canada and in Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Denmark, the USA, and China. Her video work has been screened at festivals and conferences in Canada, Austria, India, and the USA.

Mimi Thebo

Dr Mimi Thebo is a novelist and writer for children and young adults. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, broadcast on Radio Four, signed for deaf children by ITV and adapted for a BAFTA-winning film for BBC Education. Her book Dreaming the Bear, was published in February 2016 and Mimi outlined something of her research process as she discussed and demonstrated the three types of address incorporated in her latest work: the narrative voice of the child in the present, the child in distanced observation, and the possible perceptions of the Grizzly Bear.    


Academic Years 2011 - 14

Creative Writing Visiting Writers Image


Academic Year 2014-15

Sharon Berry: Storybook Dads From Idea to Fruition

Sharon Berry helped develop the of Storybook Dads idea while working as a volunteer in Channings Wood prison. Thirteen years later, the project's impact on reducing re-offending rates, maintaining secure family units and improving prisoner literacy has been well recognised. Sharon has been awarded an OBE for her work, and her presentation will trace her journey from bar-maid and single parent to CEO of this prize-winning national charity.

Multi Story Theatre Company: Writing, performance and Independence

Bill Buffy has years of experience as an actor and director with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Gill Nathanson has a similar depth of experience as a Drama Teacher, working with some of the UK’s top Education and Community theatre companies. Now working together as Multi Story Theatre Company, this inventive pair will reflect on the pros and cons of setting up an artistic endeavour outside of the funding framework: from the effect on writing and performance , to converting the garage into a scenery store.


Academic Year 2013-14

Paul Dodgson: Pictures Are Better on the Radio

Paul Dodgson is a writer, radio producer, composer and teacher. He has written fourteen plays for BBC Radio 4 and produced many hundreds of programmes for all BBC Radio networks. He wrote the award winning BBC2 drama-documentary series Monsters We Met, has been part of the Eastenders writing team, and teaches life-writing world-wide.

Recognising radio drama as an important source of income for many writers in the UK, Paul’s presentation will consider how radio drama is written, what happens in the studio, and whether the old cliché is true: the pictures really are better on the radio.

Monique Roffey: Wake Me Up When it’s Over – bloody coup d’état in the Caribbean‌

Shortlisted in 2010 for the Orange Prize, and winner of OCM BOCAS award for Caribbean Literature in 2013, Monique Roffey’s fifth novel, House of Ashes, was published by Simon and Schuster in July 2014 and draws on the events of 1990 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Monique will discuss the use of myth and story in tackling a national wound, and ask if fiction can offer perspective and healing.

Samantha Harvey: Confronting the Female Narrator‌

Samantha Harvey has published two novels, The Wilderness and All Is Song. She has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and won the AMI Literature Award and the Betty Trask Prize. She was recently named by The Culture Show as one of the 12 Best New British Novelists. In September 2014 Jonathan Cape will publish her third novel, Dear Thief.

“'The Wilderness' is so full of urgent life that it rouses even as it terrifies” - The Observer

“Literature seamlessly woven from extremely controlled prose, and peppered with vivid images that are recalled with haiku-like clarity” - The Guardian

Steve Knightley: The Song Writing

Steve Knightley is the songwriting force behind Show of Hands, the acoustics roots duo, widely acclaimed as the finest in England, with three Royal Albert Hall sell-outs to their name.  Renowned for his strong, trademark narrative songs that reflect the escapades, hopes and fears of people in his native West Country and beyond, Steve pulls no punches when writing highly literate songs about bigger, global issues and has appeared on radio and television shows with Jeremy Vine, Andrew Marr, Simon Mayo and Michael Wood.

At the University, Steve will be both performing his award-winning songs and discussing their motivation and his writing practice.

"Steve Knightley’s songs have developed such an edge it’s hard to deny them any longer." - MOJO

"Steve’s anthem ‘Country Life’ said more in three minutes than I could in a forty five minute Programme!" - Tom Heap, BBC rural affairs correspondent

"One of the great English bands." - Peter Gabriel

For more information about Steve Knightley, see his facebook page and the Show of Hands website.


Academic Year 2012-13

Christopher Nicholson: Woman Much Missed - The Ghosts of Thomas Hardy

Christopher Nicholson will be visiting the University of St Mark & St John on Tuesday 26th November. Christopher Nicholson has published two novels, The Fattest Man In America (2005) and The Elephant Keeper (2009), which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. A serial adaptation was broadcast as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. A third novel, Winter, is to be published in the UK by Fourth Estate in January 2014 and is based on the life of Thomas Hardy during a long and difficult winter in the 1920s.

Christopher Nicholson read English at Cambridge University and became a community development worker in rural Cornwall, before moving to London where he was a radio scriptwriter and producer for the BBC World Service. For more than twenty years he has lived near Shaftesbury in Dorset.

Tania Hershman: The Shortest Short Story - with a Sprinkling of Science

After making a living for 13 years as a science journalist, writing for publications such as WIRED and New Scientist, Tania Hershman turned her attention to the short story. Published by Salt Fiction, Tania’s first short story collection, The White Road, was commended in the Orange Prize for New Writers in 2009. A second collection, My Mother was an Upright Piano, was published by Tangent books in 2012. With numerous other publications in anthologies, other prizes, and various radio broadcasts, Tania is currently writer-in-residence in the Science Faculty at Bristol University, and - with funding from Arts Council - is now working on a new collection of short stories inspired by spending time in a biochemistry lab.

Isobel Dixon: Of Books, Maps and Literary Storms

Isobel Dixon is a poet and literary agent, a director of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency where she represents writers from around the world. Her most recent books, both published by Salt in the UK, are A Fold in the Map (2007) and The Tempest Prognosticator (2011), which J.M. Coetzee called ‘a virtuoso collection.’ She enjoys multi-media collaborations and took part in the Hitchcock tribute Psycho Poetica and co-wrote and performed in the Titanic centenary show The Debris Field (both published by Sidekick Books). She’s currently working with Scottish artist Douglas Robertson on a project linked to D. H Lawrence’s Birds, Beasts & Flowers and with Italian composer Roberto Rusconi on a project inspired by Schubert’s Der Döppelganger.

Lucy Christopher: Into the Wild

Lucy Christopher is an award-winning author whose novels for young adults, Stolen and Flyaway, have achieved recognition in the UK, Australia and America. With a PhD in Creative Writing, Lucy is now working on her third novel, something she combines with teaching Creative Writing to undergraduate and MA students.


Academic Year 2011-12

Mark Stratton: Where on Earth is Ouagadougou? Writing the Road Less Travelled

During a 15 year freelance career, award-winning Travel Writer, Mark Stratton has published around 350 articles - features and reportage - for The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN Traveller, Wanderlust, National Geographic Traveller, and BBC Wildlife Magazine. He has recently recorded his first radio documentary for the BBC Radio 4 series, Nature. How did his career start and progress? What’s the connection between reporting on conflict in Iraq and tracking down the world’s largest butterfly? This and other travel-matters will be considered in Mark’s illustrated presentation, ‘Where on Earth is Ouagadougou? Writing the Road Less Travelled’.

Sam North: Dragging Toad into the 21st Century - New Ways of Publishing

Somerset Maugham prize winning author Sam North (The Old Country, The Velvet Rooms), world renowned artist/muralist Steve Dooley and top mathematical modeller Bobby Gilbert (Carbon Mixer®, The ZEDbook) have combined talents to produce a high-tech, interactive version of Kenneth Grahame’s, The Wind in the Willows – that classic of children’s literature first published in 1908. Process and product will be discussed in this evening’s presentation, ‘Dragging Toad into the 21st Century: New Ways of Publishing’.

Matt Harvey: Poems Under Pressure

‘Writer, poet and enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting’, Matt’s way with words has taken him from Totnes to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club via Radio 4’s Saturday Live, the Edinburgh Festival, the Science Museum and The Guardian. He will trace (with poetic illustrations!) the path from ‘part-time’ poet, writing for pleasure, to ‘professional’ poet, performing, broadcasting and producing poems to order. Host of Radio 4’s Wondermentalist Cabaret, Matt is also author of The Hole in the Sum of my Parts and Where Earwigs Dare. Recent reviews include:

‘Very funny, very satirical’ The Times

‘Very funny…’ The Independent

‘Not only funny but tender and true’ The Guardian

‘Fabulously understated’ The Dorset Echo

 Emma George: Writing, Funding and Directing Drama for the Screen

Emma has written and directed two short films for cinema, Six Foot Square and Still Life; a short for Digitales, Torquay Tuesday, and she has developed a screenplay with Cornwall Film. She wrote and produced Love, Life and Lipstick the only drama series ever commissioned by a regional broadcaster, which won a Royal Television Society award.

Author of a book about funerals and contributor to a new collection of essays for the Natural Death Centre, Emma has also produced factual television for the past 15 years.