The MA programme in Creative Writing, within the School of English and American Studies at the UEA, was founded in 1970 by Malcolm Bradbury and the late Sir Angus Wilson.
Many respected tutors – apart from Sir Angus and Malcolm himself – have been involved with the course, including Angela Carter, Rose Tremain, Andrew Motion, W G Sebald and now Giles Foden and Andrew Cowan, who have taken over the stewardship of the course. Visiting fellows also associated with the course and its students have included David Lodge, Maggie Gee, Russell Celyn Jones, Ali Smith, Adam-Mars Jones and Paul Muldoon.
By 1995, when Malcolm retired to concentrate on full-time writing, around 200 students had already passed through the Creative Writing course, including some of the most important contemporary writers working in the UK today and a number of Booker Prize winners. The first and only student of 1970 was Ian McEwan. There followed writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Glenn Patterson, Clive Sinclair, Anne Enright, Tracy Chevalier, Trezza Azzopardi, Adam Foulds, Naomi Alderman, Tash Aw and many others.
By the 1990s students were editing and publishing annual anthologies of work by writers on the course, while a screen writing option was also introduced. In addition an undergraduate programme in Creative Writing was added to complement and reinforce the MA course. In 1996 a poetry course was added and more recently a separate programme in biographical writing, overseen first by Lorna Sage then Richard Holmes, and now by Kathryn Hughes.
As the only course of its kind in the country in 1970, the UEA quickly established itself as a leading centre for contemporary writing and spawned a host of imitations across the UK. Its way of encouraging and support creativity, originality and free expression within a dedicated, conducive and friendly environment suggested that if creative writing could not be ‘taught’ in the traditional, didactic sense of the word then it could certainly be nurtured and refined.
As the course gained an international reputation, enhanced by its association with Arthur Miller Centre of Creative and Performing Arts and a strong visiting writers programme of lectures and readings, it has gained support from writers, academics, agents and publishers across the country and beyond.
When Malcolm Bradbury died in 2000, there was a period of mourning for all that we had lost – a much loved friend, mentor, storyteller and family man. But after the sadness there was celebration for all that he had achieved and a desire to mark this achievement in a suitable and respectful way. After consideration, it was felt that what was needed was not a grand or flamboyant gesture – this was not Malcolm’s style – but something that would be of benefit to a group of people he cared for a great deal. So the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Trust was founded to award scholarships to young writers and so help them to attend the UEA MA in Creative Writing course.
The Trust has just one trustee – the University itself, which has charitable status applicable to the Trust. But it has also many patrons, including Andrew Motion and Ian McEwan, and it has a Management Committee, comprised of members of Malcolm’s own family and close friends, who will organise and monitor the work of the Trust and ensure that all funds raised will benefit students of the creative writing course in the form of scholarships.
Each year the Trust will award a number of scholarships to students, whose eligibility will be judged according to financial circumstances and literary merit. In the award of these scholarships the Management Committee will be guided by the tutors of the MA in Creative Writing course itself. In addition, the Trust will do its best to help support other initiatives that directly benefit MA and other UEA Creative Writing students at the UEA. The Committee will also ensure that funds raised benefit only the students and the course and will not be used for any other purpose by the UEA or associated bodies.
The Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Trust and its Management Committee aim to increase significantly the level of awards available to students in Creative Writing at the UEA and to open up opportunities for young writers who might not otherwise be in a position to benefit from the course.