The Letters Page is a University of Nottingham project, and benefits from the support of the School of English. The editorial team consists of: Jon McGregor, editor; Leah Wilkins, production manager; and Rachael Smart; intern. The team also benefits from the support and advice of an internationally based Editorial Board, as detailed below.
Jon McGregor is the Writer in Residence at the University of Nottingham’s School of English, where he works alongside his Creative Writing colleagues to produce The Letters Page and associated projects.
Jon’s recent books include a short story collection, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, and his third novel, Even the Dogs, which won the IMPAC Dublin Literature Award in 2012. His first two novels, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin, were both long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and his stories have twice been runner-up in the BBC National Short Story Award. Jon's fourth novel, Reservoir 13, will be published in early April 2017 by 4th Estate. Jon has previously been a writer in residence at a secondary school in Aspley, Nottingham, and on the RRS James Clark Ross in Antarctica.
Leah Wilkins is a third year Creative Writing student at the University of Nottingham. Leah also works at Five Leaves Bookshop as events coordinator. She writes and performs poetry in Nottingham and is working on her first pamphlet.
Creative Writing Students
Students taking the University of Nottingham MA in Creative Writing will have the opportunity to be involved with The Letters Page by taking a new module in ‘Letters, Literary Journals, and Online Writing’, which will include practical work on the production of the new issue. Undergraduate English students will also have opportunities to become involved on an extracurricular basis. If you’re an English student and you’re reading this, get in touch!
The Editorial Board
Roddy is the author of eleven novels, two collections of stories, two books of dialogues and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents. He has written seven books for children and has contributed to a variety of publications including The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Metro Eireann and several anthologies. He won the Booker Prize in 1993, for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.
Some time ago, I got a letter in the post from a kid – a young boy – in England. ‘Dear Roddy Doyle,’ it started, ‘I hope you are alive’. If it had been an email, I probably wouldn’t have read it. But the child’s handwriting on the envelope, and the British stamp – I opened it and read it and it made my day. And it did much more than that. The boy asked me, very wittily, to write another book for children. So, I did. I finished the book last week. That’s why I’m a fan of The Letters Page. Texts and emails are fine but there’s nothing like a hand-written letter.
Nick is a Professor of English at the University of Toronto where he teaches Canadian literature. His work has appeared in Raritan, Queen’s Quarterly and Canadian Poetry.
Like most of us, I suspect, I got involved with The Letters Page because of Jon, because of my affection for him and my admiration of his writing. I like the international aspect of The Letters Page, the way I never know where its missives will come from but always know they'll be by smart, interesting people. The unusual form of the magazine is its own pleasure, but as with any writing it's the content that keeps you reading.
Chris is, amongst other things, the Chief Executive of Writers’ Centre Norwich and Co-Chair of the National Association for Literature Development.
Send news! We all love getting letters. Real letters. I‘d guess that while we all love getting a letter, fewer of us enjoy writing them enough to make the space to engage in more than one or two lasting exchanges at a time these days. (I’m kidding myself. I don’t write letters to anyone. I think about it, choose a new emoticon or gif that my correspondent may not yet have come across to indicate how much they mean to me and how special my incoming tweet/DM is going to be and press send.) When Jon McGregor wrote to me about The Letters Page and I saw who else he was talking to, I thought, ‘Yes, yes, I want to hear their news. I want to see their writing. I want to know what’s happening in all of those worlds to all of those people.’ When he and his team asked me what form I thought The Letters Page might take, I glibly said ‘it should be beautiful to hold and beautiful to behold’. I have not been disappointed. The Letters Page delivers.
Nikesh has written two novels; Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace. Nikesh is the editor of the essay collection, The Good Immigrant, where 21 British writers of colour discuss race and immigration in the UK. His short stories have appeared in Five Dials and The Sunday Times. He also writes for film and TV.
In a complicated complex digital world, The Letters Page shows that correspondence can be meaningful, and not a two word email.
Mick is the writer of four novels: Yuki Chan in Bronte Country, The Underground Man (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won The Royal Society of Author’s First Novel Award), Five Boys and The Widow's Tale. From 2014 to 2015 he was writer-in-residence at the Booth Museum of Natural History.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Creative Writing Department at Nottingham University, when the idea for The Letters Page was still taking form. For that reason alone, I have a profound and personal affection for the project. The other reason I keep coming back to it is that, in a landscape of ever-increasing homogeneity, The Letters Page is a joyful oddity – an eccentric delight.
Colum is the writer of six novels and three short-story collections. His work has been published in over 35 languages. He currently teaches on the MFA program in Hunter College. He wrote a letter that appeared in the very first issue of The Letters Page.
What Jon understands about letters is that they traverse time in the most extraordinary way – backwards and forwards, yet all the time remaining in their proper place, our present. Letter writing is of course an ancient art but it will be with us forever simply because we cannot exist without stories and story-telling. The world will take away a lot of things but it will not take away our stories. That's why letters matter and will continue to matter.
Julie is the Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Newcastle University. From 2010 to 2013 she was the Head of the School of English at the University of Nottingham during which time The Letters Page was launched.
I was involved with The Letters Page at its inception when I was Head of the School of English at Nottingham. It remains for me a brilliant example of students working in partnership with creative writers around the world to produce something that is all about new kinds of thinking, networks and connection.
Patricia is a writer and academic. She is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Manchester and often teaches writing with the Arvon Foundation. Her novels include Hallucinating Foucault and Miss Webster and Chérif.
I still write my books in longhand, with those Jurassic tools, ink and paper. For me the pleasure of The Letters Page is bound up with seeing a unique hand, and hearing a unique voice. The wonderful, random, literary or gossipy commentary included in the letters page is like reading over someone's shoulder. Only this time, as one of the recent contributors puts it – ‘P.S. If you’re reading this, then it’s for you'.
is a novelist, broadcaster and games designer. She’s won numerous awards for her literary fiction, which includes Disobedience
and The Liars’ Gospel
. She broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, and has a regular monthly column in The Observer
. In 2012 she was selected by Granta
as one of their once-a-decade list of Best of Young British Novelists, and in 2013 she was picked for the Rolex Arts Initiative as the mentee of Margaret Atwood. She wrote a letter
that appeared in Issue 5 of The Letters Page
has written three novels – The Harmony Silk Factory
, Map of the Invisible World
, and Five Star Billionaire
. He has twice been long-listed for the Booker Prize and has won the Whitbread First Novel Award.
is the author of The Snow Geese
(which won the Hawthornden Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award) and The Music Room
. In 2003 he was named the Sunday Times
Young Writer of the Year.
has written three novels – The Engagement
, Tall Man
and A Child’s Book of True Crime
, which was short-listed for the Orange Prize.
is the Publicity Director of Repforce Ireland.
debut novel, The Longshot
, was published in 2009. It was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and is currently being developed into a feature film.
Éireann has written three volumes of poetry: Music for Landing Planes By, Her Book and The Book of Splendor, which is forthcoming in 2018. She runs a micro press (Miel) in Belgium and a residency space for writers and artists. A letter from her appeared in Issue 3 of The Letters Page.
Of course Jon had something to do with why I got involved with The Letters Page. But also I like the mess, unpredictability, liminal public/private zone, and exorbitance of letters. I like their speed and scale. And I have always – since a very young age – been a person who writes letters.
is the author of the novels Liars and Saints
and A Family Daughter
, as well as the short story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It
. In 2012 she won the E.B. White Award for her first book for young readers, The Apothecary
writes short stories, novels, essays and poetry. His poetry has been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year. In 2014 his collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection.
has written five novels – Leave Before You Go
, The New Girl
, Novel About My Wife
, Not Her Real Name
, and The Forrests
. She teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland.
has written three books – Return to Akenfield
, One Million Tiny Plays About Britain
and Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It
. He is the editor of the literary magazine, Five Dials
has published nine books of stories and essays, the most recent being Habit of a Foreign Sky
. She currently works as a writer in residence at the City University of Hong Kong. She wrote a letter
that appeared in the first issue of The Letters Page
Sarah is the author of five novels and one collection of short stories. Her debut novel, Haweswater, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, and her second novel, The Electric Michelangelo, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She is an honorary fellow of Aberystwyth University and tutors for the Faber Academy, The Guardian and the Arvon Foundation.
Ben is the author of The Last Pilot, and frequently writes for The Guardian. His short stories have been published in, amongst others, The Junket and the Fiction Desk.
The reasons how and why I became involved with The Letters Page are lost in the fog of the past. If only there was a written record of our correspondence on the subject! It could be that Jon threatened my cat, which was troublesome because I didn’t have a cat, and so I became fearful. I’ve always written letters (and taken photographs of them before sealing, so I have a record of what I’ve sent) and I’ve always been intrigued by the act of sealing the envelope with saliva; of one’s DNA accompanying your words. 'Here is a piece of me', it says. Perhaps we could reconstruct dead writers by extracting their DNA from licked envelopes? We could put them in a theme park with a bar and call it Grammatic Park and it would be a thing of wonder. Either way, keep McGregor away from my cat.
Kamila has written six novels, including Burnt Shadows, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and A God in Every Stone, which was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize. Kamila is a Fellow fo the Royal Society of Literature.
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