“Apple Tree Yard” author and University of East Anglia (UEA) alumna Louise Doughty has set up a crowd-funding initiative to create three scholarships on the University’s world-leading MA Creative Writing (Prose) programme for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students.
With one in four students declining offers for the course due to financial hardship, Louise is leading the campaign to help ensure that all voices are heard within literature.
“Taking the MA in Creative Writing at UEA was transformative for me and I credit it with turning me into a novelist,” she said. “Neither of my parents had been to university and nobody in our family had had a literary career. Coming to UEA and meeting other writers, working with other writers, was my first experience of being with people who had the same aspirations as me and who shared and understood my passion and ambition.
“Now I'm an established novelist, I can't think of anything I want to do more than encouraging others to follow the same path - particularly people who come from groups that are under-represented in our literary culture. I really hope that in setting up a crowd-funded scholarship for BAME writers, we are making a small contribution to redressing the balance.
“I'm particularly proud of my fellow writers and the enthusiasm they have shown in joining me in this project: donations have come from authors as varied as Andrea Levy, David Nicholls, Victoria Hislop, Aminatta Forna, Ayobami Adebayo, Tracy Chevalier, Paula Hawkins, Mark Billingham, Jojo Moyes, Bernadine Evaristo, to name just a few. Some are connected with UEA, some are not, but all share our passionate belief that we need diverse stories and want to help new writers tell them.”
Louise, who has written eight novels, has created a justgiving page to cover tuition fees and living costs for three students and a number of “angel” supporters are already backing the scholarship by pledging £1,000 each year for three years.
Prof Sarah Barrow, UEA’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities, said: “The University, Faculty and School are absolutely delighted that Louise has chosen to support prospective students of Creative Writing at UEA in this innovative way and we're extremely grateful to her for leading this crowd-funding campaign. These scholarships will provide a fantastic boost to our efforts to promote student diversity and help address the recognised gap between talent and literary recognition in the BAME community.”
If you are interested in supporting Louise's UEA Crowdfunded BAME Writers' Scholarship, please get in touch on +44 (0) 1603 593930 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photos by Yves Salmon - from top: Louise Doughty; Andrea Levy and Gary Younge; Emily Midorikawa and Vayu Naidu; Louise Doughty, Geraldine Harmsworth and Jill Dawson; Louise Doughty and Kit de Waal; and Sharmaine Lovegrove and Kit de Waal.)