Who We Are

Dr Sophie Nicholls
Co-Founder Creative Writing Lab
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Teesside University

Sophie Nicholls is a novelist and poet. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University and previously worked at the universities of Sussex, Leeds and York and in private practice as a therapist. Sophie received her MA (Hons) in English Language from the University of Edinburgh and her doctorate from the University of Sussex (2006), where she also taught on the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development. Her doctoral thesis was funded by the AHRC and explored ways that creative writing can help to facilitate a felt, bodily sense of self, establishing a model for ‘developmental writing’ for use in education, therapy and health care settings. Sophie’s poems have been published widely in poetry journals and magazines and her poetry collection Refugee (2011), partly inspired by her work with Survivors of Torture, is published by Salt. Her bestselling novel, The Dress (2011), has been translated into Italian and French. She is currently working on her fifth novel.


Megan C. Hayes MSc (MAPP)
Co-Founder Creative Writing Lab
PhD Candidate, Teesside University

Megan completed her BA degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2011 before going on to complete her MSc in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of East London in 2014. Her current PhD research at Teesside combines creative writing and positive psychology, exploring the concept of flourishing through writing.


Dr Celia Hunt
National Teaching Fellow
Emeritus Reader in Continuing Education (Creative Writing), University of Sussex 

Celia Hunt is Emeritus Reader in Continuing Education (Creative Writing), University of Sussex, where she set up the Certificate in Creative Writing in 1994 and the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development in 1996. She convened and taught on the latter until her retirement in 2010. Before taking up her post at the University, Celia was Literature Officer at South East Arts Board in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in which capacity she set up and managed writing residences in prisons, hospices and care homes. Prior to that, she was a founder member and organiser of the Montpelier Literary Society in Brighton. She was also a founder member and first Chair of Lapidus. Celia was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2004. She currently holds an Honorary Research Fellowship at the Education Faculty of Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.


Professor Ben Knights
National Teaching Fellow
Emeritus Professor of English and Cultural Studies, Teesside University

Ben Knights studied at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (UK), and has taught at the universities of Cambridge, Durham, and Teesside, where he was subject leader for English and Cultural Studies. From 2003 – 11 he was Director of the (HE Academy) national English Subject Centre. Books include The Listening Reader: Fiction and Poetry for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Jessica Kingsley 1995), Writing Masculinities: Male Narratives in Twentieth-Century Fiction (Palgrave 1999), Masculinities in Text and Teaching (Palgrave 2008) (editor), and (with Chris Thurgar-Dawson) Active Reading: Transformative Writing in Literary Studies (Bloomsbury 2006). He edits the Palgrave series Teaching the New English.


Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson
Senior Lecturer, English and Creative Writing, Teesside University

Chris’ research interests are cultural geography, the contemporary long poem and writer-reader theory. He was Project Officer for the National Teaching Fellowship Project Active Reading which explored the way in which students might become more attentive readers by writing back against chosen texts. The resulting publication, Active Reading: Transformative Writing in English Studies (Continuum, 2006) was published with Prof Ben Knights. His PhD on the contemporary long poem used cultural geography to analyse Canadian, American and British extended forms. Chris has also given international papers on spatial practices in Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic.


Kate McBarron
Writer, Marketer, MSc Student

Kate has spent the last ten years working in the world of PR & marketing, specialising in copywriting and communications strategy. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has recently returned to studying again to undertake an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes – an experience that has ignited her passion for research. Kate is a member of Lapidus, the organisation for words and wellbeing, and is co-ordinator of the London branch. She is also a member of NAWE, the National Association of Writers in Education.

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