A prestigious Cumbrian author whose work has been published across the world and translated into more than a dozen languages is embarking on a pivotal new role forging inspiration from cultural landscapes.
Sarah Hall (pictured) says she is excited and truly delighted by her appointment as a University of Cumbria Professor of Practice, which will see her working alongside English literature students studying her widely acclaimed novels.
Based within the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA), Sarah said it was a position that would allow her to contribute beyond fiction in a focused way.
She explained: “It formalises my relationship with the place central to my writing. My upbringing in the Lake District was a gift, an essential component of what I do and my creative capabilities.
“It’s impossible to analyse the value of those formative years and the endless source of learning and inspiration. I’ve spent many books trying. It’s simply my lodestar.
“This role feels like another layer built on that foundation. An opportunity to add dimension to the map is wonderful.”
Born near Haweswater’s Bampton, Sarah currently lives in Norwich, but plans ‘with fair winds’ to relocate back to her home county in the summer.
Four of her five resoundingly successful novels and three short stories have a strong Cumbrian focus, with issues facing communities brought to the fore, many of them relevant to current Lake District debates.
Enjoying World Heritage Status as a cultural landscape, the area’s beauty, ambition, problems, conflicting reputations and attraction continues to be a source of discussion, art, political and philosophical provocation, said Sarah.
She added: “I hope in some small way that I’m part of Cumbria’s creative and political alumni and that I can encourage others to be brave, to produce, to utilise all that is extraordinary about this location.
“I would like to contribute to the conversation about what we can be, not just what we have been. I believe in progression and reinvestment, rather than nostalgia.
“My work features possible futures and the conversations we’re having about the environment and interfacing societies. I am also an experienced teacher and speaker and want to contribute as a public face of the university.”
Senior lecturer in English literature and theme lead for cultural landscapes within Ambleside-based CNPPA, Dr Penny Bradshaw, said she was thrilled to welcome such a celebrated writer.
She added: “Sarah will be working on masterclasses with our MA and BA English literature students, who study her work and will benefit greatly by her appointment. She will also be leading public talks, events, writing courses and residentials.
“Here at CNPPA we work to develop an understanding of complex and dynamic relationships between people and the landscape.
“Sarah tackles the pressing issues such as flooding and rewilding in her novels and her work is very important to a range of our programmes.
“Her appointment is a significant step for the university and our work on cultural landscapes, place-writing and the exploration of environmental issues through the lens of literature.”
* Picture of Sarah Hall: Richard Thwaites