The BCLT Summer School brings together writers and translators for an intensive, one-week residential programme of hands-on translation and creative writing practice.
For most language-specific workshops, groups have the unique opportunity to work on a collaborative translation with both the author in residence and the workshop leader.
Translators working from any other languages have two multilingual workshops: one for poetry and one for prose. These are for translators working from any language into English.
All workshops encourage collaboration and peer learning in a small group setting (maximum of 10-14 translators in a group).
During the week, the workshops are complemented by creative writing workshops for all participants and also plenary sessions, such as publishing panels and lectures.
What happens at a BCLT Summer School?
This video gives you a taste of how the Summer School works.
The BCLT Summer School brings together writers and translators from around the world for a one-week programme of hands-on translation and creative writing practice.
After more than 20 years of running literary translation summer schools, the BCLT Summer School is a vibrant, tried and tested format for the professional development of literary translators. Not only does it provide a nurturing environment for translators to work on their craft; it also establishes a valuable network of translators, editors, publishers and indeed friends from around the world.
The core activity of the week is the literary translation workshops, led by experienced literary translators and editors, working from a range of languages into English. We also include in the programme two creative writing sessions for literary translators with authors writing in English, as well as plenary sessions and short talks addressing various aspects of the theory and practice of literary translation, with a focus on the professional development for translators.
2022 Summer School (online, 17-22 July 2022)
The online version of the Summer School includes many of our regular activities plus a few different sessions unique to the new online format:
- Language-specific workshop strands
- Multilingual workshop strands for translators translating from any language into English
- A Training the Trainer workshop strand for experienced translators that would like to run translation workshops in their home country
- All workshops are designed to encourage collaboration and peer learning in a small group setting (maximum of 10 translators in a group)
- Creative Writing workshops
- Author and translator readings
- Plenary panels with industry professionals
- Short talks on hot topics
- Optional online evening social events
The workshop strands for 2022 will be announced soon.
The 2022 Summer School fee will be £300. This covers all sessions throughout the week, including the optional evening social events.
Applicants can apply for a full tuition fee bursary (details below on this page).
How to apply
Applications for the 2022 Summer School will open in January 2022.
Please take a look at the Petra-E Framework to get an idea of the level of experience required to apply. The BCLT Summer School is suitable for translators that consider themselves Level 2 (Advanced Learner) or Level 3 (Early Career Professional).
We welcome applications from literary translators working in any country. This is a global opportunity.
Although we cannot offer bursaries to all participants, we are happy to say that we usually have a wide variety of full bursaries available.
All bursaries listed are worth £300 each, meaning that if you receive a bursary you will be able to take part free of charge.
Please note that if you receive a bursary you will be asked to write a short one-page report on your experience of the Summer School.
You can apply for more than one bursary – for example you could apply for a language-specific bursary and the BCLT or NCW bursary if you are eligible. To apply for a bursary you just need to complete the bursary section of the Summer School application form.
It's also worth investigating other sources of funding that might be available to you in your home country, such as Arts Council grants or funding provided by your relevant embassy, college or university.
Details of the 2022 bursaries will be available soon.
Frequently asked questions
Here you'll find answers to questions you have, from experience needed to whether bursaries are available.
If you don't find the answer you're looking for please email us and we will respond as soon as possible.
Do I need to be an experienced literary translator to attend?
The answer is no you do not need to be an experienced literary translator to attend, although you do need to some have experience of translating. The Summer School attracts a wide variety of people from across the world with varied experiences. To give you an idea of our selection criteria we ask you to refer to the Petra-E framework of reference for the education and training of literary translators. The Summer School is aimed at translators in levels 2 and 3.
I have already published a translation, is the Summer School still relevant to me?
As the answer above stresses, the Summer School attracts a wide variety of people. Each person that attends will take something away from the week, whether it be knowledge of the industry, strategies for certain translation challenges, contacts, friends...the list goes on. Many published translators attend as it is a useful professional development opportunity.
If I apply am I guaranteed a place on the course?
The BCLT Summer School has been running for over 20 years and is a popular Summer School with a very good reputation. Therefore, some of our workshops can be oversubscribed. This is why we ask applicants to choose a first and second preference if that is possible for them and their interests. If a workshop is oversubscribed we work with the workshop leader to try to create a group that we feel will work well together based on the information from your application. We contact all applicants after the deadline to state whether your application has been succesful. If you are offered a place, it is at that point that we will send you a link to book onto and pay for the course in full.
What do the literary translation workshops involve?
The core activity of the week is the literary translation workshops, led by experienced literary translators and/or editors, working from a range of languages into English. During these sessions the participants work on a consensus translation of one particular text. In a majority of the workshops the author is present to talk about his or her work, answer questions and contribute to the translation process. The focus is on the process, rather than the end product. While each group is expected to come up with a consensus translation at the end of the week, it doesn’t really matter how much or how little text is actually translated. What is important is that, as a group, you really think about the possibilities, and engage with your workshop leader, author and one another in a creative, collaborative exercise.
For translators working from other languages, we will be a multilingual prose workshop. This will be translating into English.
All the workshops are designed to encourage collaboration and peer learning.
What do the creative writing workshops involve?
The Tuesday and Thursday mornings begin with creative writing workshops for all delegates, developing different creative writing skills for translators. The whole cohort are divided between a 4-8 tutors. These sessions are designed to help literary translators focus on themselves as creative writers and take a practical, exercise-based, rather than a theoretical approach.
What software and equipment will I need for the online Summer School?
We will be using Zoom and YouTube to deliver the Summer School. Before applying for the online event please consider the following:
- Is your internet connection reliable?
- Do you have a computer with a working camera, microphone and speaker?
- Will you be able to attend all of the sessions during the week?
Sessions will take place between 9.30am-5.30pm (British Summer Time) with evening social events from 7-9pm (British Summer Time). Please check how these times work within your time zone.
What times will the sessions take place?
The Summer School will run from Monday 17th-Saturday 22nd July 2022. Sessions will take place between 9.30am-5.30pm (British Summer Time). Optional evening social events will run from 7-9pm (British Summer Time). We understand that working online can be tiring so there will be plenty of scheduled breaks.
Training the Trainer workshop
This workshop strand is for experienced literary translators that have published work and would like to receive some training in leading literary translation workshops.
If you are successful in gaining a place, you will spend the summer school week shadowing our experienced workshop leaders. A workshop leader will also be running dedicated workshops for the Training the Trainer cohort along with some guest speakers. These workshops will address specific techniques, ideas and challenges when leading literary translation workshops.
The BCLT's International Literary Translation Summer School has been running since 2000 at University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
Throughout those years the Summer School has been invaluable for many literary translators for many different reasons, including professional development and networking. Here is some of the feedback we have received:
It went so well! I expected to have a good experience, but I was surprised by how smoothly everything ran via zoom. Technical difficulties were minimal and I really felt that I was working with people even though we were many time zones apart.
Danish workshop attendee, 2020
I found the online format a smooth and enjoyable experience. It was successful in replicating the main parts of the campus-based event. Once I had got over the initial unfamiliarity of working with other people who I had not met in person, I almost became unaware of the online environment.
Dutch workshop attendee, 2020
Being relatively new to the field of translation and particularly literary translation, I felt a little nervous before coming to the Summer School. I quickly came to learn that all the participants and instructors - regardless of their level of experience or chosen career path - were eager to share their advice, ideas and philosophies on translation, and equally willing to listen to my views.
The BCLT Summer School was, for me, an overwhelmingly positive experience and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to any budding or seasoned translator.
French workshop attendee, 2019
The hand's on translation sessions were very helpful, particularly when we moved into smaller groups. And the networking was fantastic - a few of us are already planning a co-translation project for September.
Italian workshop attendee, 2019
I feel re-energized, and ready to tackle the challenges of translating children's literature! I was given so much to think about this week and feel like I want to apply it right away. And if I run into snags (inevitable!) I know I have a wonderful support group to turn to.
Multilingual Prose workshop attendee, 2019
The workshop leaders for both creative writing and translation were fantastic, very encouraging and offering the perfect balance of structure and freedom. It was great meeting other translators, not just for the support network they form but also to learn about other people's projects and about exciting ways of exploring and showcasing translation.
Multilingual Poetry workshop attendee, 2017
It was a truly wonderful week, spending time with a diverse range of interesting people. The final presentations were genuinely moving as we were able to see how much high calibre work could be produced across many languages and styles in a very short space of time.
German workshop attendee, 2017
I learned to have confidence in what I've done and feel happy that I'm ready to start pitching my sample translations. I also picked up a few tips on publishers who might be interested in my project and grants available.
Multilingual Prose workshop attendee, 2017
It has inspired me to keep going and pursue a career in the field, to have the confidence to believe in my own writing.
German workshop attendee, 2016
Wonderful to meet so many translators and feel part of a community.
Multilingual Prose workshop attendee, 2016.
The workshops themselves were fantastic, but it was these unrepeatable chances to chat and hang out with like-minded aspiring linguists over breakfast, coffee, dinner and drinks, that made the Summer School such a valuable experience.
Daniel Bradley, Japanese workshop attendee, 2013.
I attended the BCLT Summer School as a participant in 2006.....It was a life-changing experience....Many of the people I met that week later helped me to get work, and vice versa.
Katy Derbyshire, German workshop attendee, 2006 - German workshop leader 2012 onwards.