West Dean Residency Programme

West Dean College

Writers in Residence at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

New Writing South works in partnership with West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, supporting them to encompass a wider range of writers in their on-going Writers-in Residence (WiR) programme with the aim of diversifying opportunities for current and future writing students and for visiting writers. Curated by New Writing South, the New Writing South/West Dean residency programme seeks to challenge under-representation of Black and Asian British writers in the literary world by offering six West Dean residency opportunities across the academic year to writers of colour. 

Potential residents are invited to take up the opportunity following a research and selection process by New Writing South in discussion with West Dean College. Booker Prize long-listed novelist, Yvvette Edwards, was our first writer in residence as part of this new partnership, resident at the College in November  2020 for one week.

Subsequent residents for autumn 2021 include Dagger Award-winning crime writer Amer Anwar in September and poet, broadcaster, novelist and activist Salena Godden in November 2021. Writers in Residence for 2022 include Courttia Newland and Kia Abdullah, and writers in 2023 include Preti Taneja and Okechukwu Nzelu.

Find out more about West Dean College of Arts and Conservation on their website.

“I realised this was going to be the only opportunity to write an essay that I’ve had in my head for years and I haven’t actually managed to do. So I said ‘ok, I’ll take this time out and do it’.”

From 'In Conversation with Courttia Newland'


Writers in Residence – 2023

Preti Taneja

Preti Taneja is a writer and activist, and Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Her first novel We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press/ AA Knopf), a translation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, tracks the rise of fascism in contemporary India. It won the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK’s finest literary debut of the year, and was listed for awards including the Folio Prize, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Prix Jan Michalski, Europe’s premier award for a work of world literature. It is published in translation worldwide. Her second book is Aftermath (Transit Books/ And Other Stories), a creative non-fiction lament on trauma, terror, prison and grief, following the London Bridge terror attack in 2019. It was a Book of the Year in the New Yorker, the New Statesman and The White Review, and was shortlisted for the British Book of the Year. Aftermath is the winner of the 2022 Gordon Burn Prize awarded ‘for literature that is forward thinking and fearless in its ambition and execution’. Preti Taneja was awarded academia’s prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for Languages and Literatures in 2022 for her groundbreaking experimental work. Photo: Ben Gold

Okechukwu Nzelu

Okechukwu Nzelu is a Manchester-based writer. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award from New Writing North. His debut novel, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney (Dialogue Books, 2019), won a Betty Trask Award; it was also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Polari First Book Prize, and longlisted for the Portico Prize. In 2021, it was selected for the Kingston University Big Read. His second novel, Here Again Now (Dialogue Books, 2022) was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Encore Award and longlisted for the Polari Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Diverse Book Awards. He has made several appearances on national radio, and is a regular contributor to Kinfolk magazine. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Photo: Alex Douglas


Writers in Residence – 2022


Kia Abdullah

Kia Abdullah is the author of three courtroom dramas: Take It Back, a Guardian and Telegraph thriller of the year; Truth Be Told, which was shortlisted for a Diverse Book Award; and Next of Kin, a Times Book of the Month. She has won a JB Priestley Award for Writers of Promise and has written for The New York Times, Guardian, FT, Times, Telegraph and the BBC among others. kiaabdullah.com


Courttia Newland

courttia newland

Photo: Sharron Wallace

Courttia Newland has published nine works of fiction, including his debut, The Scholar. His latest collection of speculative fiction stories, Cosmogramma, was published in 2021 by Canongate (UK) and Akashic Books (US). Newland’s short stories have appeared in many anthologies, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and included in Best of British Short Stories 2017. He has been awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. He holds a PhD in creative writing and was previously associate lecturer at the University of Westminster. As a screenwriter he has co-written two feature length films for the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe, of which Lovers Rock was jury selected for Cannes, and opened New York Film Fest 2020. Small Axe won the LA Critics Circle award 2020 for Best Picture. Impact, an original feature, is currently in development with Film Four and The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be, a science fiction short, is part of their science fiction strand, 4sight.

Read ‘In Conversation with Courttia Newland’ on the West Dean website.

Catherine Johnson

Catherine Johnson

Catherine Johnson has written over 20 books for young readers, her work has been nominated many times for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the Bookseller Young Adult Prize, and won the Young Quills Historical Award and the Little Rebels Award. Her latest book is Journey Back to Freedom. She also writes for TV, Film, Radio and Video Games.  She is a fellow of the Royal Literary Society.

Writers in Residence – 2021

Yvvette Edwards

Yvvette Edwards is a British East Londoner of Montserratian origin and author of two novels, A Cupboard Full of Coats and The Mother, as well as a number of short stories which have been published in anthologies and broadcast on radio. She is particularly interested in writing that challenges the single narrative, giving voice to characters who are absent or under-represented in contemporary fiction.  Her work has been nominated for a number of literary awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Man Booker Prize.

Read Yvvette Edwards’ blog about her week at West Dean.

Amer Anwar

Amer Anwar grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs, including; warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually settled into a career as a creative artworker/graphic designer and spent the next decade and a half producing artwork, mainly for the home entertainment industry. He started taking writing classes in the evenings and wrote the opening chapters of a novel which he entered for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger competition, in order to receive his first rejection – only to win the actual award. Signing with an agent, he went on to gain an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. The book took eight years to complete. After initially being rejected by over thirty publishers, it was eventually published in 2018 by Dialogue Books. Brothers in Blood, Amer’s critically acclaimed debut thriller, went on to be picked by both the Times and the Guardian as one of the books of the year.

The eagerly awaited follow-up, Stone Cold Trouble, was published in September 2020 and was a Times, Observer and Living Magazine Thriller of the Month and a Sunday Times Crime Club pick of the month. You can find out more about Amer at www.ameranwar.com.

Salena Godden 

Salena Godden is a high-profile poet based in London. She is also an activist, broadcaster, essayist and memoirist whose work has been widely anthologised. She has had several volumes of poetry published including Under The Pier (Nasty Little Press) Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994-2014 (Burning Eye Books) Pessimism is for Lightweights – 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance (Rough Trade Books) and a literary childhood memoir, Springfield Road (Unbound).

Her poem Pessimism is for Lightweights was donated to The People’s History Museum, Manchester, where it is now on permanent display. The work was unveiled in February 2020 to mark the museum’s 10th birthday. She has recorded several albums, most recently her spoken-word album LIVEwire (Nymphs and Thugs) which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award.

Canongate pre-empted world rights to her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death. A documentary following the work-in-progress over 12 months was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Mrs Death Misses Death has been described by the publisher as an “electrifying genre- and form-defying firestarter.”  – Described in The Bookseller as “an original, exuberant novel, freewheeling from prose to poetry to non-fiction…truly one of a kind – don’t miss”, and chosen as a Fiction Editors Choice. Find out more at www.salenagodden.co.uk.