The University of East Anglia (UEA) has introduced two new fully-funded annual scholarships for its prestigious Creative Writing MA programme.
The Sonny Mehta India Scholarship and The Sonny Mehta Scholarship for Writers will be available for students from India, the Indian sub-continent, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as those who self-identify as Roma. Both scholarships will cover tuition fees and living costs, as well as a grant to support the costs of relocating to the UK for the course.
The scholarships have been endowed by Gita Mehta, who wanted to establish the scholarships in memory of her husband Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief of US publishing house Alfred A. Knopf and chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Group.
Mr Mehta died in December 2019 and over the course of his career published some of the most successful and influential authors of all time, including eight literature and one economics Nobel laureates. From Toni Morrison to John Le Carre and UEA graduate Sir Kazuo Ishiguro OBE, Mr Mehta’s portfolio was broad and diverse, including popular titles such as Jurassic Park and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, as well as Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch and memoirs by former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Mr Mehta was well known in the industry for supporting emerging writers, and the new scholarship programme will honour his memory by encouraging voices who may not otherwise have the opportunity to be heard.
UEA’s Vice Chancellor, Prof David Richardson, said: “This is a wonderful contribution to UEA’s Creative Writing programme and we are immensely grateful to Gita Mehta for making this possible.
“Sonny Mehta was the most influential editor and publisher of his generation. His wisdom and range transformed the literary landscape. At UEA we will continue to champion that call for excellence and inclusivity, and enable more brilliant voices to be heard.”
UEA’s Director of Creative Writing, Prof Henry Sutton, said: ‘Our programme seeks and welcomes exciting new voices from around the world. Contemporary writing should be without borders, boundaries and prejudices. It strives to make sense of our world, and for all. Enabling students who might otherwise not have been able to develop their voices and be heard could not be more crucial.’”
Amongst Mr Mehta’s published authors are also a number of alumni from UEA’s Creative Writing programme, including Ian McEwan and Sir Kazuo Ishiguro OBE.
In 2020 UEA launched its MA Creative Writing programme’s 50th birthday celebrations, marking half a century of nurturing talented new writers. UEA’s creative writing programme was the first course of its kind in the UK and has produced more published and prize-winning authors than any other UK programme.