Since the inception of the Creative Writing programme, UEA has been host to numerous practising novelists, poets, dramatists and translators as lecturers, fellows, writers-in-residence, and guests of the year-round International Literary Festival. All have contributed to the wider culture of the programme, both in their practical engagement with students' writing and in the form of readings and public discussions.
Between 1972 and 2010 the university hosted a Writing Fellowship, awarded annually to a writer of established reputation and supported with funding from the Arts Council, which attracted writers as notable as Derek Mahon, David Lodge, Maggie Gee, Adam Mars Jones, Paul Muldoon and Bernadine Evaristo.
In 1991, under the auspices of the Arthur Miller Centre, the autumn Literary Festival was inaugurated with a line-up including Arthur Miller, Doris Lessing, Gore Vidal, Salman Rushdie and William Styron. The accompanying spring Literary Festival was launched in 1993 under the auspices of the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts, and it has remained the pattern that both these series feature up to twelve events, headlined by authors of the stature of Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Richard Ford, John Fowles, William Golding, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Iris Murdoch, Les Murray, Harold Pinter, Salman Rushdie, Muriel Spark and Jeanette Winterson, to name but some.
A number of other Fellowships have been established at the university, for instance the annual David TK Wong Fellowship, offered since 1998, and the Charles Pick Fellowship, inaugurated in 2002. Both have benefitted new and established authors such as Wendy Law-Yone, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Nam Le, Brian Chikwava and Luke Williams. Since 2000, the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing has also been host to writers and translators such as Jill Dawson, Andrew Cowan, Lakshmi Holmstrom, Clive Sinclair and Raffaella Barker under the auspices of the Royal Literary Fund's Fellowship scheme. The British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) hosts two Translators-in-Residence in the Spring semester with the support of the Charles Wallace India Trust. In addition, various occasional Writing Fellows have been appointed by the School, including Nancy Lee as the Canadian Writing Fellow, Helon Habila as the African Writing Fellow, and the Australian writers and academics Catherine Cole, Jennifer Webb and Kevin Brophy as Visiting Teaching Fellows.
In 2008 UEA appointed six Distinguished Writing Fellows with a longstanding connection to the creative writing programme:
- Louis de Bernieres
- Richard Holmes
- Kazuo Ishiguro
- Ian McEwan
- Graham Swift
- Rose Tremain.
In 2012 the city of Norwich was designated England's first UNESCO City of Literature, joining a worldwide network of five other cities (Edinburgh, Iowa City, Melbourne, Dublin and Reykjavik), and in celebration of this event the School established two UNESCO City of Literature Visiting Professorships, to be renewed annually and awarded to significant authors of international reputation who will contribute both to the creative writing programme and to the cultural life of the city. The inaugural professors in 2012-13 are the playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker and the novelist Ali Smith.