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Body of Work celebrates 40 years of creative writing at the University of East Anglia

; Body of Work Above: Prof Malcolm Bradbury with creative writing students at UEA in 1983.; Body of Work; Body of Work; When I came back to Norwich after a long absence in Kabul I slipped into one of Angus’s seminars. Without breaking flow he waved me into a chair. ‘Dear boy we must get you some Arts Council money.’ He was Chairman at the time. ‘How lean and brown you are. Now Dickens was already treating the anti-Americanism of his predecessors as something of a racket . . .; There was a small table the surface of which my Olivetti and an angle-poise lamp took up more or less entirely; and instead of a bed there was on the floor a rectangular piece of industrial foam that would cause me to sweat in my sleep even on the bitterly cold Norfolk nights.; The most economical way of conveying my experience of Sebald as a Creative Writing teacher is to transcribe the diary entries I made during that winter term of 2001:; ‘Sebald continued to talk perhaps he was telling us more about the writer Horváth perhaps he had moved on to something else. But I was no longer following him because I’d noticed something strange. He was wearing a watch on each wrist. On his left wrist he wore a cheap digital watch face up. On his right an analogue watch its face turned round to the underside of his wrist. The rain continued. Sebald talked on. But I wasn’t following him. I kept looking at the watches on his wrists. Why two watches? Why one digital and one analogue? Why was the analogue watch turned face down? I didn’t know.’; So who in the Ivory Tower ‘represents’ the contemporary writers of fiction (poetry drama)? True to the times I think increasingly the answer is: they themselves.; Body of Work

Wed, 16 Nov 2011

A new book celebrating 40 years of creative writing at the University of East Anglia, featuring authors connected with the course, will be launched next month.

Above: Prof Malcolm Bradbury with creative writing students at UEA in 1983.

Britain's most famous creative writing course has produced celebrated writers including Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Anne Enright.

The news comes as graduate Christie Watson is today shortlisted for a 2011 Costa First Novel Award for Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, alongside more established alumni authors Andrew Miller for best novel with Pure and Martyn Bedford for the Children's Book Award with Flip.

Body of WorkBody of Work will be launched on December 1, alongside a New Writing website which has been created by UEA and Writers Centre Norwich to showcase the work of students, tutors and alumni.

The university's Creative Writing MA, the first of its kind in the country, was founded in 1970-71 by Sir Angus Wilson and Professor Malcolm Bradbury.

Body of Work, published by Full Circle Editions and edited by Giles Foden, comprises 50 autobiographical contributions from the course's best known students and tutors - including Malcolm Bradbury, Kazuo Ishiguro, Rose Tremain, Andrew Motion, Tracy Chevalier, Ian McEwan, Lorna Sage and John Boyne.

The collection, which includes 18 previously un-published essays, describes what it's like to be a student, teach on the course or be a visiting writer at UEA, as well as the excitement, disillusionment and possibilities of life as a writer in a rapidly changing world.

The pieces also clarify fundamental problems across the field of literary composition, through a mix of practical advice, personal testimony and critical perspective.

As well as practical advice, the book gives fascinating anecdotes from and about figures including Angus Wilson, Malcolm Bradbury, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Angela Carter, Lorna Sage and W.G. Sebald among others.

When I came back to Norwich after a long absence in Kabul, I slipped into one of Angus's seminars. Without breaking flow, he waved me into a chair. 'Dear boy, we must get you some Arts Council money.' He was Chairman at the time. 'How lean and brown you are. Now, Dickens was already treating the anti-Americanism of his predecessors as something of a racket . . . Ian McEwan

There was a small table, the surface of which my Olivetti and an angle-poise lamp took up more or less entirely; and instead of a bed, there was on the floor a rectangular piece of industrial foam that would cause me to sweat in my sleep, even on the bitterly cold Norfolk nights. Kazuo Ishiguro

The most economical way of conveying my experience of Sebald as a Creative Writing teacher is to transcribe the diary entries I made during that winter term of 2001:

'Sebald continued to talk, perhaps he was telling us more about the writer Horváth, perhaps he had moved on to something else. But I was no longer following him, because I'd noticed something strange. He was wearing a watch on each wrist. On his left wrist he wore a cheap digital watch, face up. On his right an analogue watch, its face turned round to the underside of his wrist. The rain continued. Sebald talked on. But I wasn't following him. I kept looking at the watches on his wrists. Why two watches? Why one digital and one analogue? Why was the analogue watch turned face down? I didn't know.' Luke Williams

So who in the Ivory Tower 'represents' the contemporary writers of fiction (poetry, drama)? True to the times I think increasingly the answer is: they themselves. Lorna Sage

Body of Work will be officially launched at UEA London, Middlesex Street, on December 1. The event will also mark the launch of the new Writers Centre Norwich and UEA Creative Writing website www.newwriting.net.

Copies of the book, priced at £28, can be pre-ordered from Full Circle Editions here.

Listen to creative writing graduates Ian McEwan and Costa nominee Christie Watson discussing the course, and Body of Work, on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.