Guest Tutor

Julia Blackburn


Julia Blackburn was born in London in 1948, the daughter of the poet Thomas Blackburn and the painter Rosalie de Meric. Her first book, The White Men, was published in 1978. Since then she has written fifteen further books, including two novels, both shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and several biography/memoir mixes.The Three of Us, about her upbringing with parents, won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for literary autobiography in 2009. Thin Paths (2011) – which tells of her sometimes life in a mountain village in Italy and the stories of the people there – was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Ondaatje Prize, while Threads(2015) won the East Anglian Book of the Year and the New Angle Prize. Her most recent books are Time Song(2019), Dreaming the Karoo (2022) and The Wren (2022).

She has written four plays for radio, including one about her mother, A Good Death, with Juliet Stevenson and Charles Dance; and The Spellbound Horses, about her father, with Diana Quick and Julia's own son. She is also the author of two collections of poetry: Murmurations of Love Grief and Starlings (Full Circle Editions 2014) andThe Woman Who Always Loved Picasso (Carcanet 2019).

"I have been teaching Five Days to Write a Life since 2014. I have kept to the very simple day-by-day structure which steers me and the class through different aspects of writing a memoir , but I am always led by my students and what each one wishes to achieve within the week. I work with very quick short exercises - rather like life drawing sketches - and that leads to my feedback alongside group discussions. The five days are always a fascinating and surprising adventure, each time again."

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