Literary agency Aitken Alexander Associates is to create a new scholarship in Creative Writing for students at Birkbeck, University of London, in a bid to "find and nurture" literary talent from groups underrepresented in publishing.
The award, which will support two part-time students over the next four years, will be available to Master’s students who would not otherwise be able to afford to study.
Clare Alexander, Lesley Thorne and Lisa Baker, directors of Aitken Alexander, said: “We very much look forward to our new partnership with Birkbeck. Aitken Alexander has always represented a diverse range of writers in the English language from all over the world. We now want to provide practical help for aspiring writers in the UK to make the literary world more approachable for any talented individual.”
Julia Bell, director of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, said it was imperative the literary world was representative of different parts of society in order to flourish.
“On the Birkbeck MA we pride ourselves in fostering diverse voices, and since the establishment of the Kit de Waal Scholarship in 2016 we have found that we have hit a nerve in contemporary publishing", Bell said. "We live in a rich and diverse society and yet this is often not represented by the writers who emerge into print or the editors who go on to work in publishing. Through scholarships, bursaries and our unique part time courses, the Birkbeck Creative Writing Programme aims to change that."
Jess Goulson, head of major gifts at Birkbeck, said that establishing a scholarship was an "act of great vision", which helps ensure talent from all backgrounds has the opportunity to prosper. "Not only does it have a tremendous impact on the lives of the student recipients, but also on society as a whole by creating fairer access to a university education", said Goulson. "We are delighted to welcome Aitken Alexander Associates to our community of donors.”
To be eligible for the award, prospective scholars must apply for the MA and have been accepted for a place. They will then be invited to apply internally for the scholarship and they will also be eligible to apply for other awards and bursaries.
Applications for 2018 entry on Birkbeck’s MA Creative Writing are now open.