Creative Writing & History

Is Creative Writing & History just for historical fiction writers? What do the two subjects bring to each other? How can historical research improve your writing skills? These are questions that often come up on open days and we will answer below.

This joint honours allows student writers to use the particular analytical skills that history studies teaches to enable them to write vividly and accurately about the past. It will also give your contemporary fiction or memoir work depth and originality from the ability to interpret and study texts in both subjects to widen your writing skills. Close reading, editing and proofreading skills will be integral, and this makes this combination an excellent choice for career progression. This joint honours degree will embed the investigative skills of the historian with the dynamic creativity of a professional writer. This combination is perfect for people who want to write historical fiction and biographies, but it also embeds the skills needed for other genres of writing and is therefore not limited to historical fiction writers, but aspiring also poets, literary and popular fiction, memoir & creative non-fiction writers: all aspiring writers with a love of studying history.

Applicant talk and Q & A

We recently hosted a virtual applicant talk and Q&A for our incoming joint honours students who will be studying Creative Writing & History. The panel was made up of Dr Neil Fleming ( history lecturer), Ruth Stacey (lecturer in Creative Writing), and Dr Jack McGowan (course leader in Creative Writing), with two students to share their experience of this fascinating combination of subjects.

Scott Eeles (graduated 2018) talked about the benefits of Joint honours History and Creative Writing, and focused his opening conversation around how different the two subjects were. For example, you could have a lecture in history one morning contrasted with a workshop session in Creative Writing in the afternoon. He chose the University of Worcester because of the passion of the lecturers he met at Open Day combined with the size of the university as he knew it would mean a more personal service, with more 1-2-1 time with lecturers.

Scott talked about how it was exciting to combine what he learnt in History within his fiction writing. Scott is now going on to train as a history teacher in September, after working as a graduate ambassador and part-time radio DJ. His tip for starting was to take up every opportunity, especially to get published. 

Rob Allen (a current year 1 student) started by talking about how it fits around his life as a parent and a Firefighter. He said he chose Worcester for the local nature of it and similar to Scott, he was enthused after making an appointment to meet the lecturers in person. Rob said he enjoyed the different approaches in the two subjects, how history was focused on essay writing, and Creative Writing, in contrast, might stretch him to focus on writing and refining a single poem or story in a workshop session. Rob’s tip was about remembering everyone would be shy and that it was worth making friends and chatting to people in class, so you can share work and support each other. And that everyone feels nervous to begin with but the lecturers are helpful and friendly.

Ruth Stacey talked about studying history in her own writing practice, “My poetry and fiction writing has often started in a piece of archive material. For example, in my poetry collection Queen, Jewel, Mistress, I would often begin with a letter or archive fragment. I’m fascinated by conflicting secondary sources and the ability for fiction to connect and imagine the gaps in the historical records.”

Dr Neil Fleming and Dr Jack McGowan talked about what the subjects give to each other and explained how Joint Honours Creative Writing and History enables students to explore how story and narrative impacts on the development and exploration of real world events, giving students insight into how the past has helped to shape narratives of the present.

Please get in touch if you would like to study this joint combination at the University of Worcester.

Admissions Tutors:

Dr Neil Fleming

Ruth Stacey

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