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Intensive Four-Day Memoir Writing Course

Learn about the craft of memoir writing on this short, intensive course with bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink. Find your story and bring it to life on the page.


Oct 19 2020 - Oct 22 2020


In-person course in central London

Selective Entry

We'll offer places to 15 writers whose work shows promise

Course Fee £550

*£50 discount for former students of our online Writing a Memoir course


We’re thrilled to launch our first-ever intensive four-day memoir course with bestselling author of The Last Act of Love, Cathy Rentzenbrink. The course will take place from Monday 27 April to Thursday 30 April in the Curtis Brown agency’s offices in central London. If you’re looking to turn your life experiences into a compelling narrative and would like to hone your writing skills in an inspiring and supportive environment, this is the course for you.

Over the four days, Cathy will lead teaching sessions on aspects of memoir writing, such as how to organise and structure your memories, dramatise scenes, write dialogue and bring characters to vivid life on the page. Cathy will set exercises to help you practise and refine your craft and run writing workshops – with each of the 15 students receiving dedicated feedback on 3,000 words from their memoir-in-progress during the course. You will also get a one-to-one tutorial with Cathy, a chance for in-depth discussion about how you plan to develop and structure your story, and to talk about any difficulties you’re having with your writing. On the final afternoon of the course, literary agents Lucy Morris (Curtis Brown) and Emma Finn (C&W) will join the group to talk about the agent’s role and offer insights into the publishing market for memoir. There will be an opportunity to talk to them about your own memoir in a friendly group setting, and to ask them questions.

The course is the ideal next step for those who have taken CBC’s six-week online Writing a Memoir course – though you don’t need to have taken that course to join this one. It’s particularly suitable for people who are at an early stage in their project and are exploring how best to develop their work with the support of an expert tutor and enthusiastic group. You could also use this course to kickstart a project that’s become stale and to find a new way in to a story you’ve been struggling to get down on paper. Whether you’d love your memoir to join the ranks of bestsellers such as Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt, Tara Westover’s Educated or Sathnam Sanghera’s The Boy with the Topknot or are writing to preserve your memories for family and friends or simply for your own personal fulfilment, this course is designed to help you make sense of your world and put yourself onto the page.

‘Not only is Cathy incredibly honest and open in how she describes her own writing life from the practical/technical side, she’s also been frank about the emotional and psychological elements … A wonderful generous experience!’ Imogen Morizet, Writing a Memoir student 2019

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Author

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love which was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. She followed it with A Manual for Heartache and her next book Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books will be published in 2020Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books and runs creative writing workshops. In previous lives, Cathy worked for Waterstones for ten years, ran the literacy charity Quick Reads, and was Books Editor at The Bookseller.


Teaching sessions

Practical and inspiring sessions on the craft of memoir writing

Cathy will teach on a variety of topics, such as how to mine your experiences and memories for story, how to find a structure to your memoir, and how to turn the real people, places and experiences from your life into characters, settings and scenes on the page.

Writing workshops

Led by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy will lead group workshops, giving focused, in-depth feedback on material from your memoir-in-progress. Each student will be asked to share a 3,000-word extract for critique. These sessions are designed to help you to develop your self-editing skills as well as giving you useful editorial feedback on your work.

One-to-one tutorial

Work closely with Cathy on your memoir

You’ll get a twenty-minute one-to-one tutorial with Cathy either before or after class, giving you the chance to talk about your story and structure, as well as to address any problems you're having in the writing of your memoir.

Lucy Morris, literary agent

Meet the agents

Get expert feedback from Lucy Morris (CB) and Emma Finn (C&W)

Lucy and Emma will talk about the role of an agent and what they look for in a memoir. They will give you hints and tips on pitching and the chance to talk about your own work during the session. CBC's Jennifer Kerslake, formerly an editor at the Orion Publishing Group, will host.

Course round-up and Q&A

Take the next step in your writing journey

Cathy will provide helpful pointers and encouragement for the path ahead, to enable you to end the course on a sure footing, energised and ready to continue writing your memoir with confidence.

Novels by Curtis Brown Creative alumni

End-of-course celebration

Enjoy a glass of fizz or tea and cake with the team!

After the agent session on Thursday, you will be treated to an end-of-course celebration with Cathy and the CBC team.

Application Process

Our application form asks some questions about you and your writing – and it also asks you to send us the first 3,000 words of the memoir you’re working on and a one-page synopsis. Don’t worry about the synopsis – we’re just looking for a page which tells us a bit about where your story is heading. It doesn’t need to be polished.

For this course we will be responding to entries throughout the application period. We will be working to select 15 writers whose work we consider has the potential to really benefit from this course – but, mindful of the fact that many people need to book annual leave and/or make travel and accommodation arrangements – we will not be waiting until the closing date to read applications and offer places. We therefore advise people who are keen to join this course to apply early.

The final deadline for applications is midnight on 5th April, and we will reply to all candidates who haven’t already heard back from us by Thursday 9 April.

The course fee of £550 per student is payable by bank transfer or cheque. Former students of our Writing a Memoir online course with Cathy Rentzenbrink will be eligible for a discounted fee of £500. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins. We regret that we are unable to refund fees, and would suggest students make their own insurance arrangements if required.

Please upload your application via the form at the end of this page. If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any questions about the course, please email for assistance.

Tutors and Agents

We’re so thrilled to have the wonderful Cathy Rentzenbrink coming to teach this course here in our London offices. And we’re delighted that Lucy Morris (CB) and Emma Finn (C&W) will be running a session on how to talk about and pitch your memoir. They will deliver verbal feedback to the group and answer any questions you may have on finding an agent and publisher for your memoir.

Course Schedule

The course takes place at Curtis Brown’s offices in central London. Teaching begins at 10.30 and will run until 4.30 on each of the four days, with tutorials happening at the start and end of the days (between 10 and 10.40 am and 4.30 and 5.30 pm). The teaching room will be open in the morning before class and in the late afternoon after class for students who need to catch up on reading and feedback writing, or indeed for students who want to sit and write. Tea/coffee and a sandwich lunch will be provided on all days, along with a celebratory drink and slice of cake on the final afternoon.

Please click here to see full teaching schedule and details.

Applications Closed

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