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Our Story

Ten great years of helping writers tell their stories

2011
Curtis Brown Creative is founded

Curtis Brown Creative is founded

We launch in May 2011 with a three-month Writing Your Novel course that takes place in Curtis Brown’s board room in London – helping 15 talented writers to write their best, and bringing in CB’s literary agents to demystify the publishing industry and empower them to pitch their novels with confidence. Our founder Anna Davis – a novelist, literary agent and creative writing lecturer – is joined by acclaimed novelist Jake Arnott to teach the course. Notable alumni who studied with us on that first course include the likes of Jessie Burton, Antonia Honeywell, Catherine Chanter, and crime writing duo Barney Thompson and Chris Rickaby (who write together under the pen name Ben Creed). Our second London-based course runs in the autumn and is taught by Chris Wakling. Notable alumni from this course include published authors Kate Hamer, James Hannah, Julia Armfield, Tim Glencross and Annabelle Thorpe.

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Student Spotlight | Jessie Burton

Student Spotlight | Jessie Burton

‘Curtis Brown Creative is world-class. I will always be grateful for my place on the course.’

Bestselling and award-winning author Jessie Burton worked on her acclaimed debut novel The Miniaturist during our first-ever course. She went on to be the winner of National Book Awards Overall Book of the Year 2014 among other awards. She is now the author of two further novels and a book for children.

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Student Spotlight | Kate Hamer

Student Spotlight | Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer was a student on our second course in London. She is represented by Curtis Brown’s very own Alice Lutyens. She is the bestselling author of three novels, the Costa-shortlisted The Girl in the Red Coat, The Doll Funeral, and Crushed.

‘Each novel is a new and fresh journey. The only thing we can do is write. Write like a demon. Write like fury. Write all day or in that half hour between getting up and leaving for work. Write on your commute. But most of all, however much you will eventually edit/throw out/start again/burn – keep the faith.’ – Read more of Kate’s advice in our blog interview…

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2012
Student Spotlight | Lisa Williamson

Student Spotlight | Lisa Williamson

Lisa’s bestselling novel The Art of Being Normal was published by David Fickling Books in January 2015; it was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and nominated for a Carnegie Medal, among other awards. She has since gone on to write three more successful YA novels.

‘In my experience, teenagers can sense a phoney a mile off. When writing YA, authenticity is everything. By authenticity, I don’t for one second mean your story has to be autobiographical. One of the things I love most about being a YA author is the freedom to explore teenage experiences totally unlike my own (ballsy, brash Mia in All About Mia is a prime example of this). Rather, I’m talking about having respect for your audience and characters. ‘ – Read more of Lisa’s tips for writing YA on the blog…

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Discovery Day

Discovery Day

Working with the literary agents from Curtis Brown and C&W, we we run the first Discovery Day – a free event at Foyles Charing Cross where aspiring authors came from all over the country and from abroad to pitch their novel to agents.

Pitching tips
2013

New six-month course and our first online course

We run a six-month Writing Your Novel course in the Curtis Brown offices. This longer course gives writers an expansive learning experience with even-more direct engagement with authors, literary agents, and publishers. Published alumni from this course include Jon Teckman, Sara Sarre and Jacquie Bloese. We take our first step into online teaching with our three-month online Writing Your Novel course led by Chris Wakling. Notable alumni from the course include Alice Clark-Platts, Catherine Bennetto, Dawn Goodwin, Julietta Henderson, Heidi Perks and Alex Tyler.

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Student Spotlight | Struan Murray

Student Spotlight | Struan Murray

Struan took one of our three-month London-based courses in 2013. He is represented by Curtis Brown literary agent Stephanie Thwaites. His debut middle-grade novel Orphans of the Tide was published by Puffin in 2020, the sequel Shipwreck Island came out in 2021.

‘The most important thing to me during the editing was that none of the emotional complexity was lost. But in being forced to take the story apart entirely, and fit it back together bit by bit, I actually think it has become a much stronger book.’ – Read more of Struan’s thoughts about the process of writing, editing and publishing a middle-grade book on the blog…

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2014

Our first six-month online Writing Your Novel course

After the successful launch of our three-month online course in 2013, we take our six-month Writing Your Novel course online too. Students from this course include the likes of Nicholas Searle and Hannah Mary McKinnon.

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Student Spotlight | Nicholas Searle

Student Spotlight | Nicholas Searle

Nicholas is represented by top Curtis Brown literary agent Jonny Geller. His debut novel The Good Liar was published by Viking in 2016 and has since gone on to be adapted into a feature film starring Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen. His second novel, A Traitor in the Family was published in March 2017.

‘Write not because you dream of the writer’s lifestyle, with all the kudos, glamour and money that means (ha ha); write because you can’t do otherwise. If writing’s just a hobby or lifestyle or career choice, choose something different.’ – Read advice from Nicholas in our blog interview…

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The London Writers' Fair

The London Writers' Fair

We team up with the London Book Fair to run The London Writers’ Fair, a full day of novel-writing teaching, industry advice and networking opportunities for new writers, which took place at Foyles, Charing Cross. Taught by esteemed authors Nikita Lalwani and Louise Wener. The day culminated in panel events involving agents, publishers and bestselling authors such as Adele Parks and Tom Rob Smith.

Be A Best Seller Competition with ITV’s This Morning

Be A Best Seller Competition with ITV’s This Morning

We team up with ITV’s This Morning to run the Be A Best Seller novel-writing competition. We had over 5,000 entries to this prize judged by Marian Keyes, Caroline Quentin and Jonny Geller. One of the competition’s finalists C.J. Tudor went on to write the major bestseller The Chalk Man.

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2015
We launch our Writing YA & Children's Fiction course

We launch our Writing YA & Children's Fiction course

We launch our now popular Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course led by acclaimed children’s author Catherine Johnson. This three-month online course offers writers the opportunity to develop their skills in writing young adult, middle-grade, and children’s fiction with expert teaching, writing workshops, and one-to-one tuition. Plus industry advice from agents and publishers that specialise in YA and/or children’s fiction. Notable alumni that have studied on this course across the years include YA authors Michelle Kenney and Cynthia Murphy as well as middle-grade authors Penny Chrimes, Ann-Marie Howell, Gianna Pollero, Michael Mann and Jenny Pearson – who was shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Children’s Book Award.

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Student Spotlight | Ann-Marie Howell

Student Spotlight | Ann-Marie Howell

Ann-Marie Howell studied on our first-ever Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course. She became our 50th former novel-writing student to get a major publishing deal. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Garden of Lost Secrets, was published by Usborne in 2019.

‘Whenever you pick up your pen, or open your laptop to research, plot or write, try and have an image of your reader in your head. Your readers won’t be your adult friends and family, they will be children between the ages of 8-12. Explore what is on the national curriculum for this age group. If you can seed some of these details into your text it could peak your readers’ interest and enthusiasm for topics which they may already be learning about’ – Read Ann-Marie’s Five Tips on Writing Historical Fiction for Younger Readers blog for more tips…

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Student Spotlight | Laura Marshall

Student Spotlight | Laura Marshall

Laura studied with us in London with tutor Erin Kelly in 2015. Her debut novel Friend Request was published in 2017 and became an instant bestseller. She is now the author of two further psychological thrillers: Three Little Lies and The Anniversary (out summer 2021).

‘If I try and make every sentence perfect, and keep going back over things, it stops me moving forward with the story. When I’m writing a first draft I don’t even read back over what I’ve written the day before. I just try to plough on and get the thing written, and then (hopefully) I’ve got something to work with.’ – Head to the blog to read Laura’s three writing tips…

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2016

We launch Starting to Write Your Novel

We launch our first-ever six-week online open enrolment course led by our founder and Director Anna Davis! Since first running in 2016, Starting to Write Your Novel has helped hundreds of writers get their novels off the ground. This new format of online course is comprised of weekly modules that feature exclusive teaching videos, written materials and writing tasks plus access to an interactive discussion forum for students to discuss their work with their peers and get feedback on a task from an experienced CBC editor.

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Student Spotlight | Hazel Barkworth

Student Spotlight | Hazel Barkworth

After taking our six-month Writing Your Novel course in 2016 Hazel gained representation from Curtis Brown’s Lucy Morris. Her debut novel Heatstroke was published by Headline in 2020.

‘I think the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received was two words: be subversive. The CBC course helped me to understand how to apply that sense of disruption and opinion to every page, every scene, every line of dialogue.’ – Read more about Hazel’s journey to publication in our interview…

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2017
Caz Frear wins the Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller Competition

Caz Frear wins the Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller Competition

Caz Frear studied on our 2014 Writing Your Novel course in London. She went on to win the 2017 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition with her crime thriller Sweet Little Lies –the novel was published Bonnier. She is now the author of two further crime novels featuring her beloved character DC Cat Kinsella.

When writing fear, try to find a fresh way to express it. Strive to avoid clichés like thumping hearts and weak knees. And remember, less can be more: Shouty prose and multiple “!!!” don’t make the reader feel it more. Show us something different’ Head to the blog to read the writing task Caz set when she was our #WriteCBC guest…

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We launch Write to the End of Your Novel

Following on from the success of Starting to Write Your Novel, we launch Write to the End of Your Novel. The second instalment in our popular How to Write Your Novel series of six-week online courses is led by Anna Davis. This course equips writers with all the tools they need to get to the end of their first draft.

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We launch Edit and Pitch Your Novel

We launch our popular Edit & Pitch Your Novel course in the autumn, focused on polishing novels and preparing pitch packages for agents and publishers. The online course is led by Anna Davis and features exclusive advice videos with insider tips from the literary agents of Curtis Brown and C&W. This is the last course in our How to Write Your Novel series, a complete trilogy of courses that helps writers go all the way from first idea to final draft.

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Jane Harper wins CWA Gold Dagger

Jane Harper wins CWA Gold Dagger

Jane worked on her multi-award-winning novel The Dry during or online Writing Your Novel course in 2015. After publication in 2016 it quickly became an international bestseller and won many accolades including the coveted 2017 Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association. Jane is now the author of three more global bestsellers.

‘It helped me a lot to know ‘whodunnit’ and why before I started writing. I had the start and the end before I had almost anything else, including most of the key characters. I also had a handful of anchor points with a crucial clue or character point that needed to come in around the half- and three-quarter mark. A lot of other things changed during the writing process, but those points have remained almost fully intact. I knew how I wanted the book to end, and I used those points as stepping stones to help get me there.’ – Get more crime writing insights from Jane in our interview…

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Student Spotlight | Polly Crosby

Student Spotlight | Polly Crosby

Polly was awarded the Yesterday Scholarship (funded by author Felicia Yap) to join our six-month online Writing Your Novel course in 2017. Her debut The Illustrated Child was published by HarperCollins in 2020.

‘My tip would be to enter competitions and apply for writing scholarships/courses. I have been writing since I was 19 (20 years ago this year, gosh!) and although I had the ideas, I needed the guidance and the motivation to keep going. There is nothing like a deadline to focus your creativity!’ – Read more about Polly’s journey to publication in our interview…

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2018
We start our monthly #WriteCBC competition

We start our monthly #WriteCBC competition

To celebrate CBC’s seventh birthday we run a weeklong #WriteCBC event on Twitter – across seven days we share a writing tip and task from a member of the CBC tutor team and ask our followers to respond to the task with a tweet-length piece of flash fiction. Each day we select a talented participant to win a discount or free course place. This has become a popular monthly competition for our beloved Twitter writing community – to take part make sure you’re following @cbcreative and be sure to check our account on the first Thursday of the month for a tip and task from an author or literary agent.

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Elizabeth Lee wins the Marian Keyes Novel-Writing Scholarship

Elizabeth Lee wins the Marian Keyes Novel-Writing Scholarship

Elizabeth was awarded the Marian Keyes scholarship to study on our six-month online Writing Your Novel course in 2018. After completing the course she gained representation from Curtis Brown’s Lucy Morris. Her debut novel Cunning Women was published by Windmill in 2021.

‘I honestly can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity, and I’d urge anyone considering applying for a Curtis Brown Creative scholarship to do it. The chance to spend time working on my writing, focusing on it and learning from our tutor, Lisa O’Donnell, and the other students was so precious.’ – Read more about Elizabeth’s path to publication on the blog…

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We delve into the world of children's picture books

We add to our expanding selection of online courses with three new picture book courses led by celebrated author-illustrators Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell.

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Student Spotlight | Clare Pooley

Student Spotlight | Clare Pooley

Clare studied on our three-month course in London with tutor Charlotte Mendelson in 2018. Her debut novel The Authenticity Project was published by Transworld in 2020 and is a New York Times bestseller.

‘Don’t worry about what people might want to read, think about what you feel COMPELLED to write. If you’re compelled to write it, others will be compelled to read it.’ – Get more advice from Clare in our interview…

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2019

We launch Writing a Memoir

We keep expanding beyond novel-writing and launch two new six-week online courses. This Writing a Memoir course is our first foray into non-fiction and features teaching videos and materials from bestselling memoirist Cathy Rentzenbrink.

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We launch Writing Short Stories

We add Writing Short Stories to our roster of six-week online courses, featuring exclusive teaching videos and materials from award-winning short story writer and novelist Cynan Jones.

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We help run the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize

We help run the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize

We team up with the Curtis Brown literary agents to celebrate the agency’s 120th birthday and run the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize for unpublished writers. We receive over 3,000 entries to the competition! Chikọdili Emelumadu wins representation for her fantasy novel Dazzling. Debra Hills is highly commended for Monkeyflower and wins a free place on our three-month London course.

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Kirsty Eyre wins inaugural Comedy Women in Print Unpublished prize

Kirsty Eyre wins inaugural Comedy Women in Print Unpublished prize

Kirsty took our three-month London-based course in 2017.  Cow Girl went on to be awarded the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Unpublished Prize in 2019 – it was then published by HarperCollins in 2020.

‘Yes, it’s about timing and making the humour land, but it’s also about inviting the reader to read irony between the lines. Cultural clashes, misunderstandings, unreliable narrators are all devices that can help along the way.’ – Read Kirsty Eyre’s tips for writing comedy on the blog…

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2020
We launch Writing an Original TV Drama Serial

We launch Writing an Original TV Drama Serial

With the help of the Curtis Brown television and film agents we run our first-ever screenwriting courses. This 18-week selective-entry course was created with the help of acclaimed TV-writer Colin Teevan. It features exclusive masterclasses from leading directors, producers, script-writers and show-runners. Learn more by reading our interview with Colin…

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We run a FREE 12-week Writing Workout

In response to lockdown and stay at home guidance we move all of our teaching online. We continue supporting writers from afar, and offer a free twelve-week programme ‘The Weekly Writing Workout’ to help nurture people’s creativity during difficult times, over 9,000 people sign up! This series includes tasks set by the CBC team as well as guest authors including Vanessa Gebbie, Deborah Moggach, and Simon Becket. This inspires us to expand the free resources we offer to our community of writers, find out how to gain access to our full library of free content below.

Free resources

#CBC100Authors

We celebrate reaching the huge milestone of 100 former students with major publishing deals!

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Discoveries Prize

Discoveries Prize

Alongside the Curtis Brown agents we team up with the Women’s Prize Trust and NatWest to create Discoveries, a unique initiative searching for the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland. The judging panel is chaired by acclaimed author and Women’s Prize Founder Director Kate Mosse. She is joined by author Abi Daré, literary agent Lucy Morris, CBC’s Anna Davis, and Director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Sandeep Mahal.

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We launch Writing a Psychological Thriller

We continue expanding our six-week online course offering with Writing a Psychological Thriller, led by popular CBC tutor and bestselling author Erin Kelly.

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We launch Writing Historical Fiction

We also launch Writing Historical Fiction! Travel to the past and explore what makes a compelling historical novel on this six-week online course with the help of bestselling author S J Parris – aka Stephanie Merritt.

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Julie Ma wins the Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller Competition

Julie Ma wins the Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller Competition

Julie studied on our three-month online Writing Your Novel course in 2014. Her debut novel Happy Families went on to win the 2020 Richard and Judy Search For A Bestseller Competition – it was published by Welbeck in 2021.

‘Don’t underestimate the importance of the time you leave your novel in a drawer once it’s finished. Once it’s done, put it away, pretend it’s not there for at least two weeks, more if you can bear it. Then have another look with semi-fresh eyes.’ – Read our interview with Julie for more pearls of writing wisdom…

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2021

We launch Creative Writing for Beginners

This brand new four-week online course is led by our founder Anna Davis. Anna will help you explore your Writer’s World and find your voice. With our guidance you’ll gain confidence and put pen to paper.

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We launch our Breakthrough Writers' Programme

This new programme provides free courses, mentoring, and scholarships for under-represented writers, funded by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and partners. Our objective is to seek out talented writers, who would not otherwise have joined our creative writing courses, and give them the best of our tuition and mentoring, delivered by successful author-tutors, literary agents and publishers. We will draw on our expertise to help writers maximise the potential of their works-in-progress and pitch them with confidence to the book industry.

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It's your turn!

Start your writing journey with expert teaching from acclaimed writers and top literary agents

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