Creative Writing at Corpus Christi College
Finding the Plot: A Course for Aspiring Fiction-writers
Includes masterclasses by novelists Louis de Bernières, Joanne Harris, Ben Okri, Jewell Parker Rhodes and other major writers, as well as by leading London literary agent Luigi Bonomi and Faber and Faber’s Creative Director Lee Brackstone.
FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival has a well-deserved reputation for enterprise and innovation, and the 2008 festival saw the introduction of a particularly exciting initiative: a five-day college-based residential course offering an opportunity for aspiring fiction-writers to hone their skills in the company of eminent authors and other representatives of the literary world.
Now in its seventh year, the course has established itself as a firm fixture. Providing a series of five two-hour tutor-led workshops, together with a series of ten one-hour talks (masterclasses) given by eminent novelists and other significant figures from the literary world, it is designed to serve the needs of writers who are interested in honing their creative skills in the company of a small, dedicated group.
The learning environment is intentionally intimate: the course as a whole will have places for a maximum of 30 participants, while the group will be split into two sub-groups for workshops, each containing a maximum of 15 participants. The whole group will gather together for each talk in the masterclass series.
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One of the masterclass sessions will be led by Luigi Bonomi, founder-director of the LBA literary agency and winner of the Bookseller Literary Agent of the Year award in 2010. All participants on the course will have the opportunity to have a small sample of their work read by Mr Bonomi, who will provide comments on the submissions he considers to be the most promising. This is a remarkable opportunity to have work read by one of the UK’s leading literary agents, and participants are strongly advised to submit material.
The workshops will be led by two knowledgeable tutors who are themselves well-known writers of fiction, Jem Poster and Anjali Joseph; in addition, the series of masterclasses will allow participants to listen to, and to engage in discussion with, a wide range of other literary practitioners.
The course offers a remarkable opportunity to experience life as a member of a creative community. Living, dining, learning and writing in one of Oxford’s most attractive historic colleges, participants will be able to extend their understanding of their craft in the company of like-minded individuals.
The course offers five full teaching days and six nights of college accommodation. There is also the opportunity to sign up for a further short period of college accommodation, at a reasonable additional cost: this will allow participants to continue their writing practice beyond the time-frame of the course itself, or to attend some of the festival’s other events.
Oxford has helped to nurture the talents of many well-known writers of fiction: among the university’s alumni are Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, William Golding, Kingsley Amis, V. S. Naipaul, Martin Amis and Julian Barnes.
Jem Poster,pictured, has edited a selection of George Crabbe’s poetry and has written a study of the poetry of the 1930s; he is also the author of a collection of poetry, Brought to Light, and a past winner of the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. His two novels, Courting Shadows and Rifling Paradise, were published in 2002 and 2006 respectively. He is emeritus professor of creative writing, Aberystwyth University, programme advisor to Cambridge University’s MSt in creative writing and director of academic programmes for the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival. From January to May 2014 he is writer in residence at Arizona State University.
Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay in 1978. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has taught English at the Sorbonne. More recently she wrote for the Times of India in Bombay and was commissioning editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2008. Her first novel, Saraswati Park, was published by 4th Estate in 2010; it won the Betty Trask Prize, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction in India. Another Country, her second novel, was published in June 2012.
The Masterclass Speakers
Masterclass speakers in 2012 will include Louis de Bernières, pictured, celebrated author of novels including Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; London literary agent Luigi Bonomi, founder-director of the LBA agency and recipient of The Bookseller Literary Agent of the Year award for 2010; Lee Brackstone, publishing director of Faber and Faber; distinguished American novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson; Joanne Harris, author of numerous novels including the bestselling Chocolat; Ben Okri, Booker-winning novelist and renowned poet; Jewell Parker Rhodes, prizewinning African-American novelist; and Jacqueline Yallop, whose second novel, Obedience, was praised by Hilary Mantel and described by Julie Myerson in The Observer as ‘by far the most impressive novel I read this year’.
Corpus Christi College
Corpus Christi College was founded in 1517 by Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester and a trusted diplomatic and political adviser to King Henry VII. Bishop Foxe had originally intended the college for the training of monks; if he had followed through with this plan, the College would probably have been dissolved in the Reformation of the next generation. Instead, he decided that the college should be a place of Renaissance learning for the education of young men in the humanities and the sciences.
The beautiful main quad, with its tower, dining hall, library and adjoining chapel were planned and completed under Foxe’s guidance. Queen Catherine (of Aragon) was a friend of the college’s first President, John Claimond, and would visit him in his college lodgings while her husband, Henry VIII, hunted at nearby Woodstock. Another early visitor was the great humanist scholar, Erasmus, who wrote admiringly of the college’s library.
Many significant figures have been graduates or fellows of the college, among them the educational reformer Thomas Arnold, the poet laureate Robert Bridges, the art historian John Ruskin, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and the novelist Vikram Seth.
The course, which takes place between Saturday, March 22, and Friday, March 28, 2014, costs £1,995 per person including tuition, accommodation and full board
Places go quickly so please make your booking today. Click here to register now. If you have any questions about the creative writing course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments from previous participants
‘The mixture of participants was magical, alchemical, inspirational.’
‘Ticked all the boxes on expectations and ambitions. Now I don’t just think I can be a writer – I know I can.’
‘Wonderful environment – very stimulating. A window on another world. I absolutely loved it and found it to be the perfect setting for creative thinking and writing.’
‘Beyond my expectations – loved every minute of it. Thank you.’
‘Extremely helpful. I am now publishing some of my work – thank you all.’
‘Atmosphere is unique … I learned so much about the writing process and craft.’
‘Energising – so much to take away and ponder over. A top quality experience.’