We’ve been running our London-based creative writing courses from Curtis Brown’s offices on the Haymarket since 2011. Our three and six-month novel writing courses are at the heart of what we do – and we are so proud of our students’ achievements.
From discovering fresh voices and honing talent to guiding authors through practical aspects of the industry – working with exciting new writers is what makes this job special. More than 55 of our alumni now have publishing deals – and here we’d like to celebrate some of the student successes that have started with our London courses.
To find out more about the courses we run, in London and online, click here.
JESSIE BURTON (Spring 2011)
Jessie took our very first 3-month Novel-Writing course way back in 2011, which was taught jointly by Anna Davis and Jake Arnott (a course which Jessie described as ‘world class’). Jessie worked on the novel that eventually became the phenomenally successful The Miniaturist, which was sold to Picador in 2013 after a fierce bidding war. A vividly written historical novel set in 17th-century Holland, Jessie’s debut was named Waterstones Book of the Year, and became a major BBC television drama. She followed that spectacular success with another bestseller, The Muse, which came out late in 2015, and which firmly cemented Jessie’s place as a significant voice in contemporary British fiction.
KATE HAMER (Autumn 2011)
Kate was one of the chosen 15 on CBC’s second creative writing course in the autumn of 2011. She credits the course, and the intensive workshopping process at the heart of it, with helping her hone the complex and highly praised dual-narrative structure central to her debut The Girl in the Red Coat. Her novel is the unforgettable account of a beloved young daughter, stolen away from a mother without warning. It drew the attention of Curtis Brown agent Alice Lutyens, who got her a deal with Faber. Off the back of an eye-catching poster campaign, Kate’s novel shot up the bestseller list. She followed her debut with 2016’s chilling The Doll Funeral – and her third novel Crushed comes out in April 2019.
TIM GLENCROSS (Autumn 2011)
Alongside Kate was fellow student Tim Glencross, who was working on his superb political satire Barbarians. Tim has said that he was intrigued by the idea of a creative writing school run by an agency in the heart of literary London, and gave up a coveted place on UEA’s Creative Writing MA to join the course at CBC. Karolina Sutton was so impressed by his submission at course-end that she managed to sell his book to John Murray on the basis of a partial manuscript alone, and it was published in 2014. Tim followed the success of Barbarians (which was shortlisted for the Paddy Power Political Book of the Year) with the equally accomplished Hoffer in the spring of 2016.
JANET ELLIS (Spring 2014)
CBC’s (then) team of two – Anna Davis and Rufus Purdy – were rather excited to see an application from beloved Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis drop into their inbox. They were even more excited when she quickly proved to be a seriously talented writer of top-drawer historical fiction. Janet impressed course tutor Erin Kelly early on and was signed up by Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown. Following a three-way auction, her novel was sold to John Murray imprint Two Roads. A coming-of-age story set in Georgian London, Janet’s debut won a huge amount of praise for its sensual style and her convincing depiction of English 17th-century life. Published in 2016, it was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize (as well as receiving a more dubious nomination for the Literary Review’s ‘Bad Sex Award’).
LAURA MARSHALL (Autumn 2015)
Laura secured a place on our three-month London based course in autumn 2015, after applying with a killer psych-thriller hook – what if someone you thought was long dead sent you a friend request on Facebook? Laura worked hard to hone her novel and craft with tutor Erin Kelly and her fellow 14 students. She was signed up by CB’s Felicity Blunt and her debut sold to Little, Brown’s imprint Sphere. Friend Request was published in July 2016 and received enthusiastic reviews across the board, going to become became a Sunday Times Bestseller. Her highly anticipated second novel Three Little Lies was published in June 2018.
STRUAN MURRAY (Autumn 2013)
Struan took our 3-month London-based course back in 2013. He went on to become the winner of the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2017 for Orphans of the Tide. Now, after an impressive deal negotiated by Curtis Brown’s Stephanie Thwaites Struan’s debut middle grade novel, Orphans of the Tide, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s in 2020
CLARE POOLEY (Spring 2018)
Clare had already written The Sober Diaries, a memoir based on her experience of getting sober and overcoming breast cancer, when she came to CBC in the Spring 2018. She took our 3-month novel-writing course in London, taught by Charlotte Mendelson, in order to turn her talent for writing towards fiction. Her debut novel, The Authenticity Project, was auctioned in many territories around the world – with her agent Hayley Steed securing exciting deals for her with Transworld in the UK, Penguin in the US, and a host of translation deals. The Authenticity Project will be published in 2020.
KIARE LADNER (Spring 2018)
We were immediately impressed by Kiare’s mesmerising writing style when she applied for the HW Fisher novel-writing scholarship and we awarded her the fully-funded place on our 3-month London-based novel-writing course. Nightshift, the novel she was working on in class, was snapped up by Picador in a deal agented by Curtis Brown’s Cathryn Summerhayes whilst she was still finishing the course. Since her course, Kiare’s career has gone from strength-to-strength and she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018 for her short story ‘Van Rensburg’s Card’, which you can listen to on BBC Radio 4. Nightshift will be published in autumn 2019.
We love to keep in touch with our former students – many of whom are still meeting up with their course groups to workshop each other’s works-in-progress and support each other’s writing process – long after their courses finish.
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Our London Creative Writing Courses
We run three- and six-month novel-writing courses from Curtis Brown’s Central London offices on Haymarket in the Spring and Autumn.
Our highly selective six-month London-based course is our ‘big’ course for people who have decided they want to take their writing seriously. Our intensive three-month writing course is designed to give aspiring novelists everything they need to get the best out of their novels in a shorter timeframe.
Our tutors have teaching experience. They’re also authors of real, commercially published books. They are instrumental in helping our students find their writing voice, develop their story and hone their prose. Each course features weekly evening workshops, teaching sessions on key topics such as how to create memorable characters and how to develop your story, as well as one-to-one tutorials on how to write a novel. In addition to hearing from the course tutors and our agents, our students also get to meet publishers and major authors at special guest speaker sessions. At the end of the London courses, Curtis Brown and C&W literary-agent teams will read the openings and synopses of the students’ novels, and students get to meet the agents at a drinks evening.
If you like the sound of our London-based courses but are not able to take part, take a look at these opportunities:
Our three and six-month selective online novel writing courses offer all of the ingredients of the London courses in a way that allows you to take part wherever in the world you are, and at times to suit you.
Take a look on our writing courses page to see what’s currently available.
We also offer 6-week budget-priced online writing courses to give you lots of our best writing advice and a forum to share work and discussion – these courses are easy to join wherever you are in the world.
And if you’d like to be a part of the London course but can’t afford the fee, we frequently run funded scholarship opportunities.