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Emma Healey


Norwich's Literary Greats

Norwich has a knack for not only producing but refining (many are thanks to UEA’s creative writing programme!) some fantastic literary figures over the past 700 years or so. We’re incredibly proud of this legacy - and rightly so, because it’s a very impressive list which includes philosophers, writers and best-selling authors!



Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416) was the first woman to be published in the English language and an all-round S.I.L (Strong Independent Lady); read our lowdown on her here.


Harriet Martineau (1802 – 1876) was born in Norwich of Huguenot descent and was one of the world’s first female journalists – quite an accolade!


Writer Malcolm Bradbury, author of the campus novel, History Man, founded the aforementioned and world-class MA in Creative Writing at UEA way back in 1970 – and the course has gone from strength to strength since.


Anna Sewell (1820—1878) lived in Norwich and wrote the bestseller Black Beauty (1877), originally published by Jarrolds & Sons and has sold over 50 million copies!


Thomas Browne (1605 – 1682) was a bibliophile, scientist and naturalist and Norwich resident - head over to Hay Hill and take a look at the sculptures that have been added in his honour!


Ian McEwan was the first graduate of MA Creative Writing at UEA and has gone on to be a critically acclaimed best-selling author of novels including Atonement, Enduring Love and The Children Act (to name but a few!)

Literary Norwich McEwan credit David Kirkham UEA BW



Kazuo Ishiguro also graduated from the same programme and Norfolk appears in his novel Never Let Me Go as the county of ‘lost things’.


Emma Healey also graduated from the same course (we told you!) and her debut Novel Elizabeth is Missing became a Sunday Times Bestseller as well as winning the Costa First Novel Award in 2014- good lass!


WG (Max) Sebald, one of Europe’s greatest writers, lived and worked in Norwich from 1969 until 2001, calling Norwich his home for an impressive 32 years (he had good taste!)


Tom Paine (1737 – 1809), a Norfolk man, wrote passionately in support of the abolition of slavery in his Rights of Man.


Philip Pullman was born in Norwich and has written several best-selling books including the hugely popular fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials and the fictionalised biography of Jesus called The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

And that’s how it’s done!


If you’re interested in learning more about some of our literary icons, but also fancy visiting the areas in Norwich that were important to them, why not check out the Norwich Literary Trail on the Discover Norwich app – it’s free to do and is the perfect way to while away a few hours whilst exploring parts of the city you might never have noticed!

Images: top; Emma Healey credit ; bottom: Ian McEwan credit David Kirkham