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Ms Carole Burns 

Head of Creative Writing

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Southampton English lecturer announced winner of the Ploughshares Zacharis Award

Ms Carole Burns is the Head of Creative Writing in English at the University of Southampton.

Carole’s collection, The Missing Woman and Other Stories, won the 2015 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from the U.S. literary magazine Ploughshares.  In awarding the prize, editor Ladette Randolph wrote: "Carole Burns' stories are beautifully written accounts of seemingly small moments that are in fact immeasurably important turning points in a character's life. Taken together, the stories in this collection are delicately-faceted observations of those precise moments upon which a life hinges."

Carole is a former journalist who continues free-lance reviewing for The Washington Post, and a graduate from Columbia University’s MFA program in Fiction Writing, and finds this blend of fiction and non-fiction continues to be reflected in her work and writing.

Her first book developed through these dual passions. Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between (Norton 2008) looks at elements of the craft of fiction (place, voice, character, experimentation) through her interviews with 43 leading writers including Edward P. Jones, A.S. Byatt, Colm Tóibín, Andrea Levy, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Anthony Doerr. The book was reviewed or featured on the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Irish Public Radio and National Public Radio in the U.S. More information is available on her website.

The winner of the Mary Roberts Rinehart National Award in Fiction, she has also seen stories published in Ploughshares,  Other Voices and Puerto del Sol and elsewhere and nominated for a Pushcart Award. She’s been awarded grants from Arts Council England and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, as well as residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She held a year-long visiting fellowship in 2008 at the University of Virginia Center for Humanities in Medicine to research the character of a cardiologist in a novel.

She was appointed Head of Creative Writing within English at the University of Southampton in February 2014. Before this she was a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader of the MA Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Winchester (2006 to 2012); and Lecturer in Creative Writing and Cardiff Metropolitan University (2012- 2013). She previously worked as a journalist for The Washington Post and The New York Times.

She has been External Examiner for BA Creative Writing and English at the University of Royal Holloway (2014-18) and MA Writing the Visual at the Norwich University of the Arts (2011-12). She is a member of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), the Association of Writers and Writing Programmes (AWP) and Higher Education Association.

Research interests

I would welcome applications from prospective postgraduates to work with me on creative writing, specifically fiction, both the short story and the novel, as well as creative non-fiction. I am particularly interested in aspects of narrative craft; the creative and critical in both fiction and non-fiction; and fiction that delves into other disciplines.

While my own work concentrate on short fiction and the novel, in addition, I am co-curator on another on-going project, Imagistic: Flash Fiction and Image, with the artist Paul Edwards. This international project, which pursues our joint interest in image and word, involves writers – such as Philip Gross, Patrick McGuinness, Joanna Scott, Rhian Edwards and Richard Gwyn -- writing flash fiction that is a response to work by artists including Shani Rhys James, Kevin Sinnott, Harry Holland, Maja Spasova and Janet Passehl. Excerpts and images from this project can be viewed at

I am co-founder and co-organiser of XX Women’s Writing Festival in Cardiff, funded by the Arts Council of Wales, which aims to celebrate the work of women writers in the UK and internationally. Our guests have included A.L. Kennedy, MsLexia editor Debbie Taylor and Virago editor Lennie Goodings.

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The Missing Woman & Other Stories, to be published by Parthian Books in April 2015.  Stories from this collection have appeared in Ploughshares, Puerto del Sol, Other Voices.

Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between, published by W.W. Norton in 2008.  Reviewed or featured on the BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Irish Public Radio and National Public Radio in the U.S.


“Before Letting Go,” Ploughshares, Autumn 2014

“The Space Between: The Relationship between Image
and Narrative in ‘Imagistic’”, in VaroomLab Journal, Issue 2, 2013

Reviews and interviews in The Washington Post



Book Chapter

  • Burns, C., & Llewelyn, B. (2015). Long division. In B. Llewelyn (Ed.), Secondary Character and Other Stories Opening Chapter.


As well as convening MA Creative Writing, I teach creative writing on the BA, MA and PhD levels, concentrating on fictional writing and narrative non-fiction. My modules include Great Writers Steal: Creative Writing and Critical Thinking, which looks at how writers respond both creative and critically to work by other writers, as well as the MA-level Creative Skills Workshop, Advanced Fictional Writing, and Telling True Stories: Narrative Non-Fiction. My PhD students are working on novels, short story collections and hybrid non-fiction books.

Ms Carole Burns
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2041

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