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School of English news - February 2015

New biography of T. S. Eliot by Robert Crawford

Young Eliot

Already the book, which will be published in the USA by Farrar, Straus & Giroux on 31 March, has attracted positive reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Publishers Weekly added Young Eliot to their ‘Top 10 in literary biographies, essays and criticism’ list, and it has been chosen as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week for the week beginning 2 February.

Young Eliot will be launched in St Andrews at Waterstones bookstore on 11 February at 6.30pm.

'How to Hold Your Breath' opens at the Royal Court

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Zinnie Harris’ new play opens in London on 4 February, continuing through until 21 March. It has Maxine Peake in the lead role.

Hold Your Breath

A documentary, interview, readings and talks

Documentary and reading by Professor Robert Crawford, interview and talk by Professor Susan Sellers, talk by Professor Don Paterson.

Professor Robert Crawford presented a new documentary on the little-known 18th century poet Robert Fergusson (1750-1774) on 25 January on BBC1. In Fergusson – Burns’ Forgotten Hero, Professor Crawford was interviewed in and around St Andrews, talking about Fergusson’s time as a student here in the 1760s. Fergusson - once described by Robert Burns as 'heaven-taught' - was among the first students at St Andrews to have studied works of English literature. Fergusson had a wayward, anarchic streak as a St Andrews’ student and was once nearly expelled for rioting; but he was also a powerful and scholarly intellect with a talent for maths and music. The University of St Andrews owns a bronze maquette of the poet – a 3 foot version of the life-sized statue in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – which is currently on display at MUSA.

On 23 February, Robert Crawford will be reading a selection of his poems as part of the launch of the UNESCO 2015 International Year of Light at the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 5pm.

Part of this event will feature 'Light Box', a commissioned work by Robert Crawford and the photographer Norman McBeath which is published by Easel Press and celebrates the work of St Andrews’ physicists including John W. Allen (inventor of the world's first practicable LED) and the research group in optoelectronics headed by Professor Ifor Samuel. Supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews, the Institute of Physics and other partners, the event will include the participation of several School of English Creative Writing students, including Amanda Merritt, Helen Nicholson, and Tristram Fane Saunders.

On 17 January, Professor Susan Sellers was interviewed by Leigh Chambers for the Cambridge News about her fiction.

On 25 February, Susan will be leading a post-show discussion in Cambridge at the Cambridge Junction, following a performance of a new dance piece based on Virginia Woolf’s short story ‘Lappin and Lapinova’. Further details are available at the Cambridge Junction web site.

Professor Don Paterson will be speaking at the Lancaster University English & Creative Writing Department on 3 February.

Postgraduate News

Claudia Daventry has been awarded first place in the Roehampton inaugural Ruskin Poetry Prize. This means publication in Poem magazine and a future reading at Roehampton.

Alumni News

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John Dennison’s poetry collection Otherwise has been published by Carcanet Press.


The poems in this debut collection are concerned with love, and with the strange, unlooked-for manner of its appearances among us. The book includes, among other elegies, a moving sequence for Seamus Heaney. John now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where he is a university chaplain, with his family. He is also the author of Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry published by Oxford University Press.