Memoir and Life Writing


Please address any enquiries about the courses to:

Department of English Part-time Courses
School of Humanities
3-5 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB

Tel: 0117 928 8924

How can we write about our lived experience?
This course aims to encourage, support, and excite participants in engaging with creative writing in a safe and informal space. 

Memoir and Life Writing: Spring 2023

When Wednesday afternoons, 2 pm - 4 pm

8 meetings

1 February to 29 March 2023 (no class 15 February)

Where University of Bristol, Arts Complex, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TB.
Course tutor Rachel Bentham

You will be introduced to a variety of approaches to memoir and life writing through a discussion of different texts, and we'll do writing exercises to explore your material in a confidential space. There will be opportunities to share your work and get feedback if you wish.

Every week, we'll do exercises to explore aspects of the craft of writing, including how to progress and structure your writing, how to develop an individual narrative voice, mapping your plot, and how to integrate non-fiction material. Can dialogue be included/created? What kind of source material can be used? How do we navigate the vagaries of memory and differing points of view? Do we need to get the permission of others? If you want to write about your life and engage in lively discussions with other writers, then this course is for you.

Reading List

Required reading:

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, (Viking:Penguin, 2021)
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, (Harper Collins, 2016)
Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin, 2018)
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (Penguin, 2019)

Further reading:

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot ( Canongate, 2016)
Antigona  and Me by Kate Clanchy (Picador, 2009)
Truth and Beauty by Ann Pratchett (Fourth Estate, 2004)
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove Press, 2016)
Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston (First published 1942. Virago, 2020)

Course fee


Click here to book

Previous qualifications/experience No qualifications needed. Open to the public.

What our students say...

An excellent course that inspired me to start writing the book I had imagined writing for years!

Memoir & Life Writing student, Spring 2022

Thanks to Rachel for leading a really interesting course. I found the content and lively discussions it generated really stimulating and inspiring. The course has motivated me to continue with my own writing and I can see how the constructive feedback I received has helped sharpen my writing style.

Memoir & Life Writing student, Spring 2022
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