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In August 2012 I applied to do a Creative Writing PhD at the University of Leicester. Circumstances meant I couldn't officially start until 2014, and for the last 4 years I have been working very hard on researching and writing my 80,000 word thesis (a novel and critical commentary). Late October I had my Viva Voce on campus, and, after two hours' of grilling by my examiners and successfully defending my thesis, I passed with minor revisions! Once these are implemented I will officially be ... Doctor Manwaring! You can explore my research and my transmedia novel, The Knowing - a Fantasy on: http://thesecretcommonwealth.com/




Over the summer I have been working on my most recent literary commission on the theme of 'Artificial Intelligence' for the Centre for New Writing, University of Leicester, working closely with Professor Jeremy Levesley, whose team is researching and developing AI technology at the University. A fascinating project, that will manifest as a pamphlet (with a foreword by the professor). Community projects to follow. A reading of 'GOLEM speaks' will take place in Leicester soon.






My latest publication, Ballad Tales: an anthology of British ballads retold has been published by The History Press on 8 June 2017. The day after I organised a launch showcase in Stroud with a dozen of the 20 contributors. We had a fabulous evening of storytelling, songs, music and reading.The next launch event is at the Bath Storytelling Circle, Monday 19 June. More to follow!  








I've been working on two collections of folk tales for The History Press. The first, The Anthology of English Folk Tales, was published just before Christmas 2016 and features two of my stories, 'The Far-travelled Fiddler' (from Northamptonshire Folk Tales) and 'The White Hare' (from Oxfordshire Folk Tales). And I'm really excited to announce the imminent publication of my baby, Ballad Tales: an anthology of British ballads retold, featuring 20 contributors - fine storytellers and writers all - re-imagining traditional ballads in different genres, settings, eras, and genders. I've edited this, and there is a fabulous foreword by Candia McKormack (of Inkubus Succubus fame). It is released Summer 2017 - look out for events!


I've been collaborating with my partner, Chantelle Smith since 2014 on various creative projects. We have now relaunched ourselves with a new name - Brighid's Flame - with a snazzy new logo and website. We have our first gigs coming up this summer. See Diary. FFI: http://brighidsflame.co.uk/ 



Earlier this summer I entered the One Giant Write competition for an original SF novel with the opening chapters of 'Black Box', a project I've been gestating for a while. It was in the middle of the busy exam marking period (for the creative writing courses I teach for the Open University) and little did I expect that my gambit would pay off, but it has! I have been declared the winner of this national competition - winning a £1000 prize and the chance to have my finished manuscript read by Marcus Gipps, commissioning editor of Gollancz. I am, as you can imagine, over the moon. 




I have just found out that my essay on Books and the Human: 'The (Re)Imagined Book' has been selected for the AHRC 10 prize - 10 creative writing commissions exploring 'The Way We Live Now'. The essay will be published by AHRC in late May 2016.



I am delighted to discovered I've won The Essence of Cycling commission - created by the Centre for New Writing. I've to write 900-1000 words on the experience of cycling, which will be turned into a short film made by University of Leicester students. I'll be working on it over the summer. Time to get on my bike!



My new collection of poetry, Lost Border, has just been published by Chrysalis Press, December 2015. Comprising 32 poems, it features work inspired by my travels in Scotland, Ireland, England and North America. It raises fund for GARAS (Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers). http://www.garas.org.uk/ 



I am honoured and delighted to discover I have been made a Hawthorden Fellow - and will get to spend a month (Nov 2015) as a writer-in-residence at the Hawthorden Castle in Scotland, to work on my novel. This is a real privilege and will be the perfect environment for my book - which explores the folk traditions of the Lowlands. I'll take the Low Road...



Earlier this Spring I was delighted to have been asked to be the Open University's academic consultant for an episode of the 2nd series of BBC 4's The Secret Life of Books. I spent the day with novelist Joanne Trollope talking about Cider with Rosier, in Laurier Lee's old stomping ground of the beautiful Slad Valley, near my home in Gloucestershire. It should be on sometime late summer 2015. Update: to be broadcast on 11 November 2015. See BBC iplayer



Eccles Centre

I was delighted to hear I was one of only 10 people to have been awarded this prestigious fellowship at the Eccles Centre  - which holds the largest American archive outside of America, based at the British Library. This is to focus on my research for my current PhD research project, which explores the Scottish-American diaspora, specfically the folk traditions of the Scottish Lowlands and Southern Appalachians. I look forward to delving into the archives.


Last year I was commissioned to write a piece exploring graffiti culture in Leicester as part of the Affective Digital Histories project, which explores De-industrialised Landscapes from 1970s to the present in Leicester and Glossop. 8 commissions were awarded. Mine was for Historical Narrative Non-fiction. My piece is called 'Marginalia: graffiti, urban coding, and the semiotics of the street.' The commissions were turned into an App. This Spring, they have manifested as a book, launched at the Phoenix arts centre on Tuesday 31st March. It was a glittering affair. I am proud to have been part of such a fantastic project celebrating diversity and marginalized voices. Read an account of he evening on my blog: 


Now Available from http://www.phoenix.org.uk/hidden-stories-book/

Now Available from http://www.phoenix.org.uk/hidden-stories-book/

FFI: http://affectivedigitalhistories.org.uk/



Poetry By Heart


I have been asked to MC the Gloucestershire finals of Poetry By Heart - a national initiative set up by former poet laureate Andrew Motion. Schoolchildren are encouraged to commit a poem from the competition anthology to memory. There are locals, regional and national heats. It is a pleasure and privilege to be involved in this excellent initiative - which I feel is very bardic. As with the Eisteddfod tradition in Wales it is a great way to encourage the next generation of bards. Find out more at http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/



I have just embarked upon a Postgraduate Research degree at the University of Leicester (with its excellent English Department and thriving research community). It is a novel-based Creative Writing PhD project - very exciting! Can't say more than that at this stage, but watch this space!




I have co-created a ballads and tales show based upon my two collections, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, and Northamptonshire Folk Tales (published by The History Press), with folksinger Chantelle Smith. We tried out a sneak preview at the Sunrise Celebration the beginning of June and it went down well. One audience member said 'It made the festival for me'. Exploring the eternal mystery of men and women lost in the maze of love, it weaves folk tales and folk songs together in an enchanting blend, lasting 90 mins (with a break). Up-and-coming shows include: The Rond Theatre, Bath (14 June); White Horse Camp, Oxon (31 July); Castle of the Muses, Scotland (23 August). Other dates tba.

FFI: http://taleandsong.wordpress.com/



On Tuesday 11th March I was invited to run some storytelling workshops in my old Middle School (now Delapre Primary School) back in Northampton. This was incredibly special for me - returning there after over 30 years (!) as a visiting author and professional storyteller. I performed a couple of stories from my recent book Northamptonshire Folk Tales (The History Press 2013) in what used to be my old art room, before running my 'Climbing the Beanstalk' storytelling workshop in what was my old class room! This was with Year 5 - Ms Letts' and Mr Thomas' classes - both a lovely group of kids to work with. They were attentive, enthusiastic and adventurous and all managed to get up at the end of the session and perform my stories back to me - without a text! I got some lovely feedback from the teacher:


'Thanks so much for your visit last week, the children enjoyed it and I certainly learnt a lot, I”ll be using the beanstalking technique in future.' 

The teacher had written a blog post and so had some of the pupils:



Thank you Delapre!



I have put together a literary podcast - The Golden Room - featuring the finest poetry, storytelling, and songcraft from Stroud and the Five Valleys (initially). It was due to be broadcast on Stroud FM starting 25 Feb, but sadly the station went bust before it could be broadcast! Nevertheless, I'm ploughing ahead - and the first programme (on the theme of Inspiration) can be listened to here:


This first show is a bit of an experiment - but I'm delighted by the fine contributions by local poets Gabriel Millar, Tim Bannon, and Robin Collins. There's a special feature on local legend Denis Gould, plus lovely songs from Chantelle Smith. Hope you like it! It is the first of six programmes planned between now and July, when The Golden Room: a celebration of Gloucestershire Writers Past and Present takes place at the Sub Rooms (flyer below). Find out more here: http://cotswoldwordcentre.wordpress.com/


See you in The Golden Room



A sneak preview of my new book..

‘Because Kevan Manwaring is a writer who loves and has travelled widely in the realms of fantasy fiction, his book is a trustworthy guide to the challenges, opportunities and enchantments that an adventurous imagination can discover there.’ Lindsay Clarke, Whitbread-prize winning novelist (The Chymical Wedding, The Water Theatre, and others)

My latest book is due to be published by Compass Books this year - (30th May 2014). Desiring Dragons: creativity, imagination and Writer's Quest is the culmination of 13 years' teaching experience (creative writing) and 21 books. I have been running a course based on it at Hawkwood College with a lovely group - we are continuing in the New Year and you are welcome to join us. Meanwhile, a launch will be organised for late Spring - 30 May, at Black Book Cafe (Story Supper Special). See Diary for updates and details.

You can place an order for Desiring Dragons here



I am excited about the forthcoming publication of my second collection for The History Press, Northamptonshire Folk Tales. This has been a very special book for me to write - as I retrod my old stomping ground, revisiting my childhood haunts, and discovering new treasures in my original home county. I will be touring a set of the tales over the next few months and will be looking for venues and events in Northamptonshire to bring it to. It is possible to place advance orders through The History Press website. Here's a preview of Katherine Soutar's gorgeous cover.

Northamptonshire Folk Tales


Take a walk through this county in the heart of England in the entertaining company of a local storyteller. Kevan Manwaring, born and raised in Northampton, regales you with tales ancient and modern. Learn how the farmer outwitted the bogle; how a Queen who lost her head; the Great Fire of Northampton; and the last execution of witches in England. Along the way you will meet incredible characters from history and myth: Boudicca, St Patrick, Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake, Captain Slash, Dionysia the female knight, beasts and angels, cobblers and kings. From fairies to wolves, these illustrated tales are ideal to be read out loud or used as a source book for your own performances.

Northamptonshire Folk Talesis a great companion for any visit to the area, for fascinating days out and for discovering exciting treasures on your doorstep. The 'Rose of the Shires' will open before you!




Published: 2013-10-01
ISBN: 9780752467887


Published: 2013-10-01
ISBN: 9780752467887


Northamptonshire Folk Tales

By Kevan Manwaring

Availability: Preorder


Format: Paperback
Published: 2013-10-01
ISBN: 9780752467887

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Take a walk through this county in the heart of England in the entertaining company of a local storyteller. Kevan Manwaring, born and raised in Northampton, regales you with tales ancient and modern. Learn how the farmer outwitted the bogle; how a Queen who lost her head; the Great Fire of Northampton; and the last execution of witches in England. Along the way you will meet incredible characters from history and myth: Boudicca, St Patrick, Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake, Captain Slash, Dionysia the female knight, beasts and angels, cobblers and kings. From fairies to wolves, these illustrated tales are ideal to be read out loud or used as a source book for your own performances.

Northamptonshire Folk Talesis a great companion for any visit to the area, for fascinating days out and for discovering exciting treasures on your doorstep. The 'Rose of the Shires' will open before you!

- See more at: http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/northamptonshire-folk-tales.html#sthash.qxRne7iy.dpuf




As part of a new initiative from Hawkwood College, the Cotswold Word Centre, led by Stroud-based writer, Kevan Manwaring, a series of literary rambles have been organised in the county over the coming months. The first two, walking 'in the footsteps of' Laurie Lee in his beloved Slad Valley, and WH Davies, around Nailsworth (when walkers met Davies' great-nephew) were a success, and beyond the remaning four (still time to book) more are planned for next year.

Feedback from a participant:

'Thank you so much for the delicious, exquisite, evocative experience that was the Laurie Lee Cider with Rosie walk. It was fittingly my first experience of a literary walk and I look forward to many more. The walk added so much to both the landscape and the book. I also really enjoyed my lunch at beautiful Hawkwood College!'

See Hawkwood College for further details



This autumn sees the launch of a long-term vision of mine - the Cotswold Word Centre - a new initiative in conjunction with Hawkwood College. See the Diary for all the events coming up. I am really excited about this. Here's the background:

'There is an abundance of literary activity in the Cotswolds, which seems to converge in the Stroud area, perhaps inspired by Laurie Lee and other fine writers. I was called to live in Gloucestershire three years' ago because of deep fascination with the Dymock Poets (Edward Thomas, Robert Frost, Rupert Brooke, and others) who lived and wrote in and around the small village in a corner of the county. I was also drawn here because of dear writer and storyteller friends who live in Stroud. Having been a frequent visitor from my previous home in Bath, I decided to up sticks and head for the 'Wolds. I was impressed by the 'buzz' in the town. There seems to be something in the water - with so many writers, artists, musicians, therapists, actors, ecologists, publishers, and visionaries. There is a long tradition of creative activity in the town and area - a healthy ecosystem which, with the Cotswold Word Centre, I wish to celebrate. My wish is to create a platform for all word-based culture in the region - ultimately creating a self-editing listings service for co-promotion, as well as a focus for resources and research. It is essential to not only preserve and promote the Cotswold's incredible literary heritage, but also sing the praises of the contemporary scene. New voices, new narratives, deserve to be heard. The Cotswold Word Centre is very much about helping people to express themselves through word-based creativity of all kinds (storytelling, poetry, singing, drama, life-writing, novels & short stories, small presses, text-based art, word-inspired movement, literary rambles, meditation techniques, non-violent communication & counselling skills, literacy, and new lexicons that represent the wonderful melting pot of 21st Century Gloucestershire and beyond). There could be no better base for this than the stunning holistic education centre of Hawkwood College - which began as a language school, and which continues to offer a wide range of events, courses, celebrations and talks - many with a word-based focus. Yet the Cotswold Word Centre will be reaching out, to bring some of the spirit of Hawkwood into the towns and villages, as well as having the voices of those communities enrich Hawkwood. It is a conversation of many voices and I am here to listen. Let me hear your words.'

Kevan Manwaring, Stroud, Summer 2013



Watch this space for more news...




Two Moons Mentoring  |  kevan@kevanmanwaring.co.uk