Professor Francis Spufford

Staff details

Professor Francis Spufford


Professor of Creative Writing


English and Creative Writing


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Francis Spufford is a novelist and writer of non-fiction, with a habit of changing subject matter from book to book.

Professor of Creative Writing. I teach as a workshop leader on the MA in Creative and Life Writing, and also supervise students on the Creative Writing PhD.

Academic qualifications

  • BA (Hons) English Literature, Trinity Hall, Cambridge 1985
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature 2007
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society 2021
  • Honorary Fellow, Trinity Hall, Cambridge 2021

Teaching and supervision

  • MA Creative and Life Writing (workshop leader)
  • Phd in Creative Writing (supervisor)

Research interests

Because I shift interest from book to book, my research has ranged from the cultural history of polar exploration to the poetics of childhood reading, from the imagination of engineers to theology, from the economics of Soviet planning to the politics and culture of 18th century New York, from the social history of 20th century South London to (now) the epidemiology of the Columbian Exchange, the journals of 17th century Jesuits, and the building of proto-states within the Mississippian Cultural Complex.

Some thinking about the search for a predictive science of human history is coming up in the distance. I am in general interested in the possible interconnections between ideas and lives, systems and individuals.

Grants and awards

2021: Booker Prize for fiction (longlisted)

2017: New York book award of the New York Society Library

2016: Costa First Novel Award

2016: RSL Ondaatje Prize

2016: Desmond Elliott Prize

1996: Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award

Publications and research outputs


Spufford, Francis. 2017. True Stories and Other Essays. London/New Haven CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300230055

Spufford, Francis. 2016. Golden Hill. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571225194

Spufford, Francis. 2013. Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense. London, UK: Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571225224

Edited Book

Spufford, Francis and Kolbert, Elizabeth, eds. 2007. The Ends of the Earth: An Anthology of the Finest Writing on the Arctic and the Antarctic. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1862079779

Spufford, Francis and Uglow, Jenny, eds. 1997. Cultural Babbage: Technology, Time and Invention. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0571172436

Professional projects

Trustee, Ragdoll Foundation (grants for child-focused cultural projects from the makers of Teletubbies)
Trustee, Jean Grove Trust (supporting primary schools in Ethiopia)