Creative Writing in the Lake District: An evocative literary landscape

When William Wordsworth wrote ‘O Nature! Thou hast fed/ My lofty speculations!’ he was referring to the beauty, mystery and wonder of the Lake District National Park, now a World Heritage Site.

Whether it is the rugged verges, watery expanses or breath-taking vistas, the Lake District has inspired novelists and poets from Samuel Coleridge to Beatrix Potter, through Thomas de Quincey, Arthur Ransome and John Cunliffe.

These evocative and seasonally transforming landscapes seem to give power to creative writers to reveal in vivid and emotive prose the relationships between humans and nature, between ourselves and the world we live. And it is the enabling creative power of the hills, valleys, forests and lakes, that has embedded the Lake District in the global literary imagination and keeps writers coming back to build and refine their art.

Lake and hills

Institute of the Arts

Another writer inspired by the Lake District, John Ruskin, suggested that if architects wanted to learn their craft they should ‘send [them] to our hills, and let [them] study there what nature understands’. The same is true for creative writers and the Lake District as the creative writing courses at the University of Cumbria’s Institute of the Arts will guide inspiration from the Lake District to the page.

Located in the vibrant arts campus with ready access to empowering Lake District landscapes, the highly-rated creative writing courses range from DipHe, to BA and onto a Masters. The expansive 3-year BA in Creative Writing provides training across all mediums including poetry, script, travel writing, blogging, copy and editing, equipping candidates with creative and vocational skills for a career in writing.

Compulsory modules include 'Creative Non-Fiction', 'Writing for the Media' and 'Poetry and Place', with the option to undertake modules in, for example, contemporary women’s writing, British Romanticism and the Lake District and advanced scriptwriting. No matter what your current level or what you seek to attain from your course, the face to face teaching will empower you to become a skilled and engaging creative writer.

The Institute of the Arts is also home to artists from across arts and humanities fields, making for a creative and successful environment, where 93% of graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2017).

Creative writing tutors

Tutors on the creative writing courses at the Institute of the Arts are not only proficient and experienced teachers but also active and published creative writers themselves.

The Creative Writing BA is delivered by a small and supportive team, led by writer Lucy Burnett. Lucy has a reputation in many art forms, including photography, installation and performance, but it is in creative writing that Lucy gained a PhD. An experienced tutor and educator, Lucy has a number of creative writing publications in books and magazines, including poetry and travel writing, and was shortlisted for the 2007 Chroma International Poetry Prize. Published in 2013, Lucy’s first collection of poetry is called Leaf Graffiti, followed up by Through the Weather Glass in 2015.

Lucy Burnett

Book festivals and national literary campaigns

If you are, or want to be, the type of person that seeks to engage with the wider literary scene, forging important connections and networks, then the Institute of the Arts can prove a busy and facilitating environment.

The tutors were all heavily involved with the 2018 Carlisle Borderlands Book Festival and will be again this year when the festival returns from 30 Sept to 6th Oct 2019. The 2018 Borderlines Festival attracted a varied programme of top writers, for example, novelist Pat Baker, poet Jackie Kay and comedians Robin Ince and Susan Calman. The festival also includes workshops and poetry performances with well-known creative writers and reflects the vibrant, energetic and vital literary centre that Carlisle has become, in heavy part due to the Institute of the Arts.

Through the Institute of the Arts, there is also ample opportunity to engage and participate in national books campaigns, allowing you to advocate for the written word. These campaigns include World Book Day (7th March), National Writing Day (28th June 2019), National Poetry Day (5th October 2019) and National Flash Fiction Day (17th June 2019).