Life Writing: Writing Creative Non-Fiction

Mon 14 August 2023 - Fri 18 August 2023
Tutors / Katharine Norbury & Mike Parker
Guest Reader / Kit de Waal
Course Fee / From £625 - £675 per person
Genre / Non-Fiction
Language / English

Life Writing means so much more than a set of thumping great hardbacks weighing down the shelves of a bookshop’s serious corner. Writing from and of our own experience is the bedrock of so many genres of literature, in non-fiction, fiction and poetry alike, and within their many sub-divisions including personal memoir, nature and travel or landscape writing. Life writing also covers ‘the lives of others’ in the form of biography, history and so much more. On this course, we will examine the essence of life writing, working both in groups, through exercises, and through our own writing. We will examine both the pitfalls and wonders of the genre as well as focussing on our own writing style in daily three-hour group workshops with the tutors, both of whom have published critically-acclaimed autobiographical work. Life Writing will offer a safe and supportive space to think and write in the splendid natural surroundings of Tŷ Newydd.

This course will focus on the genre of creative non-fiction, however those writing fiction, poetry and more – and looking to incorporate true stories into their work – are all very welcome.


Katharine Norbury

Katharine Norbury trained as a film editor with the BBC and has worked extensively in film and television drama. She was The Observer’s rising star in non-fiction, 2015. The Fish Ladder (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) was her first book, shortlisted for the 2016 Wainwright Prize, long listed for The Guardian First Book Award and Telegraph Book of the Year. In 2021 she edited a critically acclaimed anthology of women’s writing about the natural world, Women on Nature, published by Unbound. She has contributed to TheObserver, The Daily Telegraph and The Washington Post.

Mike Parker

Mike Parker is the author of more than a dozen books, mainly popular narratives around place, politics, history and identity, including the bestselling Map Addict (Collins, 2009, new edition 2023) and its acclaimed follow-up The Wild Rover (Collins, 2011). His On the Red Hill (William Heinemann, 2019) fused autobiography and biography with a search for the queer rural; it won the non-fiction Wales Book of the Year and was runner-up for the Wainwright Prize for UK nature writing. His new book, All the Wide Border (Harper North, 2023) is a personal response to the Wales-England divide, as a thing on the map and in history, but also as a thing in our heads and hearts.

Guest Reader

Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 60s and 70s. Her debut novel My Name Is Leon (Viking, 2016) was an international bestseller, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2017. In 2022 it was adapted for television by the BBC. Her second novel, The Trick to Time (Penguin, 2019), was longlisted for the Women's Prize and her young adult novel Becoming Dinah (Orion, 2019) was shortlisted for the Carnegie CLIP Award 2020. A collection of short stories, Supporting Cast was published in 2020 by Penguin. An anthology of working-class memoir, Common People was crowdfunded and edited by Kit in 2019 (Unbound, 2019). In 2020, Kit founded her own TV production company, Portopia Productions, and the Big Book Weekend, a free digital literary festival. She was named the FutureBook Person of the Year 2019. Kit is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor and Writer in Residence at Leicester University. Her memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes was published in August 2022 (Headline).

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