Memoir & Life-Writing


4 weeks

Day and time:

Saturdays, 10am-4pm

Next course: Starting date
Saturday, 3 Mar 2018
Future courses: Upcoming dates

Course overview

Related subjects

English Literature, Writing

Department English and Comparative Literature

Anna Derrig


Richard Hoggart Building, Room 141

Another year gone and you've yet to start that memoir! We all have a tale to tell - but where to start and how to get your stories out of your head and into the world? What to include and what to leave out? Then there's the structure, and what about the truth? Relax - join this inspiring class and begin sorting it out

Anna has this amazing ability to offer students insight to the greater implications of writing and to provide us with knowledge which can be applied far beyond the classroom - knowledge which may very well allow for the rewiring of your view of the past and thus the rewriting of your future. Her passion for her subject matter is evident and her sincere and captivating teaching style makes it inevitable that this passion is then transferred onto you and reflected in your work.

Nazia, 2016

Writing about the living or recently dead raises some tricky issues: how will family and friends be affected? how much honesty can you get away with? whose life is it anyway? This course provides an ideal space to think about such questions.

Blake Morrison, Author and Convenor of MA Life-Writing at Goldsmith

Become part of a vibrant literary community of writers and learn more about events and opportunities for you as a writer.

To hear more about the issues regarding Life Writing you can listen to the BBC Radio 4 - Four Thought, Other People's Stories - hear course tutor Anna Derrig asking who has the right to tell someone else's story. Anna has worked in the media, in international development and in social and community.

What are the aims of the course?

  • To encourage self confidence in memoir and life writing
  • To enable you to develop appropriate skills and the necessary practice
  • To develop self-awareness and self-evaluation as a writer
  • To develop an awareness and critical understanding of ethical issues
  • To consolidate learning with peer feedback on yours and others' writing

Who is suitable for this course?

Writers with an interest in life-writing and, in particular, those with ethical concerns. Attendees should be willing to listen, learn and participate within their group. Within this mutually-supportive writing community there is also an expectation to keep anything shared within the group strictly confidential. You will also be expected to give non-judgmental feedback, as well as having a good level of literacy in spoken and written English. 

How will the course be taught?

Writing exercises, group feedback, group and pair work, informal discussions, lecture-led discussion, reading lists, using whiteboard, powerpoint and online resources where useful.

Future courses

Upcoming dates:
Saturday, 3 Mar 2018 - Saturday, 24 Mar 2018
Saturday, 26 May 2018 - Saturday, 16 Jun 2018

How to Apply

Please click on the date of the course you'd like to attend below. You'll be taken to Eventbrite, which is our booking system:

Please be aware that our short courses sell-out quickly, therefore early booking is advisable.



Tutor information

Anna Derrig

Anna is writer, tutor, researcher and voluntary arts' worker who works in the evolving field of ethics and contemporary life writing. Anna is currently in the final year of her PhD at Goldsmiths, in life-writing and ethics, in our Department of English and Comparative Literature. This is the first course of its kind, with a close examination of life-writing ethics, so this is a unique opportunity. Anna has spoken at International conferences and on the BBC about this topic, and will soon be publishing a book - which will be the first in the UK. Alongside studying for her PhD she currently teaches creative and life writing for undergraduates and research ethics for PhD students. She also has a postgraduate certificate in teaching, as well as degrees in social sciences, a Masters in Social Policy and Journalism, and a wealth of professional experience within international development, the media and social community work. Anna has been published by Penguin and Virago.

Course structure

• Week 1 - Introductions - getting to know the group, structure of the course and expectations. Learning to listen actively, confidence building and accessing imagination. We will also discuss the reading list and reading like a writer.
• Week 2 - Creative styles - writing and re-writing. Life writing and ethics.
• Week 3 - Structure, voice and voices. Point of view.
• Week 4 - Memory, truth and recall. Life mapping.

About the department

Our Department of English and Comparative Literature is one of the largest and most dynamic in the University. We offer a dynamic range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, retaining a strong research focus in our postdoctoral community of academics. Whether you are interested in classical literature and/or linguistics, creative writing and contemporary fiction, this wide-ranging and interdisciplinary department has something to offer for all. We host exciting research centres, which host regular events such as the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, as well as the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies, as well having launched the Goldsmiths Prize in 2013, which celebrates fiction at its most novel.

Learning outcomes

  • Increased confidence in and understanding of yourself as a writer
  • To be able to practice a range of life writing skills
  • A new piece of writing with feedback from the class
  • Awareness of the pitfalls and opportunities of an ethical approach
  • Knowledge of contemporary memoirs, current life writing trends and the changing nature of life writing

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