A fully funded scholarship opportunity for a budding writer to hone their skills has been created at Birkbeck, University of London.
The first Kit de Waal Scholarship will be launched in October at Birkbeck’s Department of English and Humanities. This new scholarship will provide a fully funded place for one student to study on the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA (part-time) over the two years 2016 – 2018.
The Scholarship, which has been created and funded by award-winning British writer Kit de Waal also includes a generous travel bursary to allow the student to travel into London for classes and Waterstones vouchers to allow the student to buy books on the reading list.
The Kit de Waal Scholarship is intended to support a talented student who would not otherwise be able to afford to do the course, targeting students from disadvantaged backgrounds — including but not confined to care leavers, ex-prisoners, members of BAME communities, people with a disability and those from socio-economically deprived and marginalised groups.
The student and shortlist will be chosen by a panel of leading authors, literary agents, and key members of the Birkbeck Creative Writing staff and members of London’s Writer Development Agency, Spread The Word.
In addition to the Scholarship there will be further opportunities for five of the shortlisted candidates to take up mentoring and support from Spread the Word, The Literary Consultancy, Jo Unwin Literary Agency, The Word Factory and Penguin Publishers. The support offered to the shortlisted candidates will include introducing them to leading literary agencies, opportunities for workshops and further mentoring, and facilitating work experience, to help to launch their careers.
Julia Bell, novelist and Course Director of the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA, said: “We believe that the development of talent and ambition should not be the privilege of those who can afford it. Birkbeck has a long history of working with some of the UK’s most prolific and important writers through our MA writing programme. And as an institution its mission is to enable part-time learners to study in the evenings for prestigious University of London qualifications. We are incredibly lucky to have the support of a writer like Kit de Waal and to be launching this exciting award.”
When asked about the rationale behind this award, Kit de Waal said: “There are people of real talent out there who look at the cost of doing a creative writing Master’s and say ‘no chance’.
“Too often university education is for the few — the best doesn’t always rise to the top. So I wanted to start this scholarship to give someone the opportunity to develop their craft, to learn from the best, to take that chance. I’m convinced there’s an exciting writer with a new distinctive voice who’s ready to take the next step. If you’re thinking about applying I would say ‘Go on, be brave. It’s a privilege to be involved in your journey.’”
Update: The deadline for the scholarship has passed and Kit and Julia received over 100 applications! The winning scholar will be announced later in the spring.