Student Successes

Isabel Ashdown’s first novel Glasshopper was published by Myriad Editions in autumn 2009. It was named one of ‘The Best Debut Novels of 2009’ by The Observer and one of the ‘Best Books of the Year’ by the London Evening Standard.Isabel won a Bridport poetry prize while still on the BA, and had a story published in The Paris Review. Isabel is now taking the MA at Chichester, and has recently won the Mail on Sunday’s novel competition (judges John Mortimer, Michael Redpath and Fay Weldon) – again with work started on the BA and developed on the MA.  She has recently been taken on by Raft Literary Agency.

On the Third Day by Kate Betts won Channel 4’s ‘The Play’s The Thing’ script-writing competition in 2006. The play was performed in The New Ambassadors Theatre, London. Michael Billington, renowned theatre critic for The Guardian, wrote, ‘Betts reveals a bold theatrical sense’ and ‘a gift for wry humour’ while Charles Spencer of The Telegraph praised the ‘emotional candour and generosity’ of the script.   Kate featured each week in the major Channel 4 serial documentary, The Play’s The Thing.

Frank Burton’s collection of short stories, A History of Sarcasm, (written during the MA) was published in 2010 by Doghorn Publishing.  His writing has also appeared in the magazines Poetry Monthly, Pulsar, Obsessed With Pipework and Monkey Kettle.  His work has recently been published along with that of fellow Chichester MA student David Ansell in the magazine Decanto.  His short story, ‘The World’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “Opening Lines” programme in 2009.

Penny Bush’s novel Alice in Time was published by Piccadilly Books in 2010; rights were sold by auction to the U.S., and her second novel is forthcoming from Piccadilly.

Dr Sue Evans completed a creative and critical Ph.D.  In her thesis, Women Playwrights and Alternative Realities, she explored the fracturing of reality on stage by major playwrights such as Caryl Churchill and Liz Lochhead; she also commented on new avant-garde work. Her interrogation of realism and the uses of fantasy on stage fed into the writing of her own play, a highly imaginative treatment of the artist Gwen John’s life. Though based in biography, this play used the techniques of alternative realities to question the inner life of this ambitious artist. Most notably and successfully, Dr. Evans created an imaginative, non-realist stream of action, highly imagistic and fluid.  An article by Dr. Evans in the NAWE journal explored the process of her creative/critical Ph.D.

Wendy French’s collection of poetry, Sky over Bedlam, was published by Tall-Lighthouse press. Wendy has also co-edited an anthology of poetry by young people who suffer mental health problems. Her poems have been published in many magazines, including Magma, Writing Women, MsLexia, and Smiths Knoll.  She has also been chair of LAPIDUS and been interviewed about creative writing and healthcare on the BBC Today programme. In 2010 she won the £5000 2010 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

For her Ph.D. submission, Dr. Mara Giemza wrote an ambitious book-length collection of poetry, a sequential exploration of the enforced changes of identity among Polish soldiers in the Second World War. The sequence uses finely orchestrated imagery from the memories of survivors to weave a moving and powerful series of monologues and narratives exploring identity (both national and psychological) and the traumatic legacy  of war. Her accompanying commentary detailed her research, her methodology and explored the creation of a linked sequence, and the way in which images could be revisited to create and evoke a sense of memory and resonance in the reader.  Several of the poems have been published in the literary magazine, ‘English’.

Gabrielle Kimm’s novels His Last Duchess (produced in part on the MA at Chichester) and The Courtesan’s Choice were published by Sphere in 2010.

‘Gabrielle Kimm writes with a charm that entices us into a world of intrigue and dark undertones. She creates a passionate love story that gets under your skin, intimate and touching, against a backdrop of danger and treachery. Her vivid portrayal of Medici life is rich and wonderfully imagined, as she draws a skilful portrait of a fascinating time and place.’


Charlie McQuaker’s novella Die Hard Mod was published by Pulp Press in 2010.  From the novel: ‘I know she was gorgeous ‘n all but there was just a vibe I got off her that creeped me out — I always thought that girl was bad news — really bad news’. One perfect summer, Steve the Mod got his kicks with the beautiful but wild Jeanie — now life’s just giving him a right good kicking — Set in the troubled back streets of Belfast and the thrill-seeking underworld of Brighton, “Die Hard Mod” is a fast-paced tale of lust, love, friendship and righteous retribution.

In 2009, Melanie Penycate’s new book-length poetry collection was published by the specialist poetry press, Oversteps, whose editor is the distinguished poet and translator, Anne Born. Many poems in the collection were written during the MA in Creative Writing at Chichester.

Bethan Roberts’ second novel, The Good Plain Cook, was released in July 2008. It was the book at bedtime on Radio 4 in July and received excellent reviews.  Bethan’s first novel, The Pools, which evolved from her MA dissertation, was published by Serpent’s Tail in the summer of 2007. Bethan was also selected for the prestigious Arvon/Jerwood mentoring scheme for writers under 35.  Entry was highly competitive, with only 9 creative writers chosen from MA courses throughout the country. As part of the scheme, Bethan completed her novel under the guidance of an experienced novelist. Bethan has also published short stories, all written for the MA, including ‘Family Portrait’ (MsLexia, 16, 2003). She won The Olive Cook Award (Society of Awards) for another short story in 2006.

Jane Rusbridge’s first novel, The Devil’s Music, was published by Bloomsbury in the summer of 2009. It is described as ‘a beautifully told story of family secrets and betrayal, involving knots, Harry Houdini and the shifting landscape of memory.’ The novel was started as part of her MA dissertation project.

Jane has won or been placed in several national and international short story competitions, including the WritersInc ‘Writer of the Year’ award (2005), the Ilkley literature Festival competition (2005), the Bluechrome Short Story competition (2005), the Bridport (2003, 2005) and the Fish Prize (2006). All these stories were written while studying on the MA. Her MA assignment poems have featured in The Interpreter’s House, Red Hot Fiesta, New Beginnings, First Time, and the Surrey Poetry Competition anthology. Jane’s story ‘Sputnik’ was published in Mslexia (2006) and ‘The Devil’s Music’ – a chapter from the novel – was published by Route (2006). Jane has a two-book contract with Bloomsbury and is now working on her second novel.

Maggie Sawkins published her poetry collection, The Zig Zag Woman (Two Ravens Press, 2007) following her successful pamphlet, based on her MA dissertation, Charcot’s Pet (Flarestack 2004). Maggie has received Arts Council funding to run workshops and readings, and has recently been appointed as Lecturer in Creative Writing at South Downs College.  

‘[T]hese poems recall the rich confessional poetry of Pascale Petite or the surreal psychodramas of Selima Hill, and herald a bold, truthful new voice.’ (Magma)

‘Here is a poet whose language is like a multi-coloured kite: she knows how to let it fly and swoop, but she never lets go of the strings.’ (Poetry Express)

Julie Singleton was commissioned to write a monograph on the life of Virginia Woolf at Monk’s House for the prestigious Bloomsbury Heritage series.  A History of  Monks House and Village of Rodmell was published in 2008.  Other authors in the series include Mary Ann Caws, Jane Marcus and Christopher Reed.

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