Dr Harry Whitehead

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Associate Professor of Creative Writing

Harry Whitehead

Department: English

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3357

Email: hdw5@le.ac.uk

Office: Room 1604, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I am a novelist and associate professor of Creative Writing. I am Director of The Centre for New Writing and of the Literary Leicester annual literary festival.

In 2014, I was awarded a University of Leicester Teaching Fellowship for 'excellent leadership of the development of creative writing teaching in the School of English.' In 2017, I won a Student Union Teaching Superstar award.

I was a 2016-7 Eccles Centre Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library. In 2018, I was awarded a College Research Development Award and have been a Wingate Scholar. Recently, I was story consultant for Bruce Parry's feature documentary Tawai.

My novel, The Cannibal Spirit, is a work of literary historical fiction set among the First Peoples of Canada at the turn of the twentieth century and is published by Penguin. It has been described as 'powerful, brave, ambitious' (The Globe and Mail), 'a thriller with a Joseph Conradian plot' (The Walrus), 'a unique work, compelling, complex, thought-provoking and impressive' (Quill and Quire).

Otherwise, I have published short fiction in a variety of contemporary genres, and papers in the fields of creative writing history and pedagogy; anthropology and history; memory, nostalgia and identity; Native North American & Canadian history and ethnography; and psychoanalysis.

I have been principal editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Writing in Practice and was an elected member of the Higher Education Committee of Creative Writing's subject association, the National Association of Writers in Education for several years.  I was REF External Advisor at Bath Spa University, and external examiner for the BA in Creative Writing at Roehampton University.

Before moving into academia, I worked for many years in film and TV production, and have degrees in social and medical anthropology as well as creative writing.


  • BA, University of Sussex
  • MSc, University of London
  • MA, University of London
  • PhD, Lancaster University
  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy


The Cannibal Spirit


Short fiction

  • 'Glitter Is Always An Option,' Cent Magazine, October 2018
  • 'Ringtone', in London Lies, edited by Cherry Potts (Arachne Press, 2012)
  • ‘Sharp’, in Hags, Harlots and Heroines (September 2010)
  • ‘Dust’, in The Storyteller Magazine 14.2 (2008)
  • ‘How Arif Learned to Hear’ - shortlisted for ‘Fish Historical Short Fiction Prize’ 2008
  • ‘Black Amex and Chop’, at Whimperbang 10 (2007)
  • ‘Dr Pershing Becomes a Dinosaur,’ in The Storyteller Magazine 13.4 (2007)
  • ‘Bond is Back’, in MIR Journal 2 (2005)

Journal articles and book chapters

  • 'Practice at Large: How Creative Writing can Enhance University Research Environments,' with Corinne Fowler. English: Shares Futures, edited by Robert Eaglestone and Gail Marshall. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 2018 pps. 171-180.
  • ‘The Programmatic Era: Creative Writing as Cultural Imperialism’, Ariel: a Review of International English Literature 47.1-2 (January-April 2016): 359-391
  • With Jane Haynes, ‘To Shed What Still Attempts to Cling as if Attached by Thorns,’ in From Broken Attachments to Earned Security: The Role of Empathy in Therapeutic Change (The John Bowlby Memorial Lecture Series 2011) ed. Andrew Odgers (Karnac Books 2014)
  • 'Nomadic Emergence: Creative Writing Theory and Practice-Led Research,' in New Ideas in the Writing Arts: Practice, Culture Literature, ed. Graeme Harper (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013)
  • ‘Yearning for Authenticity on the Northwest Coast of Canada’, Memory Studies (July 2010)
  • ‘Quest for Quesalid: Myth-Making and Rationality in the Initiation of a Shaman’, in The Apothecary’s Chest: Magic, Art and Medication, ed. Georganta et.al. (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009)
  • 'The Hunt for Quesalid: Tracking Lévi-Strauss’ Shaman,’ Anthropology and Medicine 7.2 (August 2000)


Currently, I am conducting research on the history of the oil business and the future of the Arctic for my third novel.

I am also conducting research into creative writing pedagogical theory, Soviet creative writing programmes, the global spread of the subject, and its implications for creative innovation and literature production.

More generally, I am interested in all forms of creative writing practice and theory, especially in its application to wider pedagogic practices in higher education.


  • MA Creative Writing
  • MA Modern Lit. & Creative Writing Module: Writing Fiction
  • MA English Studies Module: Cities of Words
  • 1st Yr U/G Module: An Introduction to Writing Creatively
  • 2nd Yr U/G Module: Using Stories
  • 2nd Yr U/G Module: Advanced Creative Writing Skills
  • 3rd Yr U/G Special Subject Module: Writing Prose Fiction
  • 3rd Yr U/G Special Subject Module: Understanding Screenplays
  • 3rd Yr U/G Core Subject: Dissertation


I supervise creative writing PhDs. I welcome experienced writers interested in pushing the limits of their writing in forms including prose fiction, narrative non-fiction, writing for the screen and graphic novels.

With an academic background in both creative writing and anthropology, I am interested particularly (but not exclusively) in colonial, postcolonial and transcultural writing. I also welcome writers of contemporary innovative fiction that pushes the boundaries of publishing norms. Generally, I am always looking for damn good stories.

Current and recent research students include:


Sabyn Javeri, Nobody Killed Her: a Journey of Discovery into the Creative Self' (literary political thriller set in Pakistan, with critical reflection) 2016. Now published by Harper Collins India.

David Wharton, Bronwen Kellow (contemporary literary fiction about clairvoyants set in Britain, with critical reflection). See David's novel, Finer Things, published 2017.

Michelle Fossey - contemporary literary fiction set in a religious cult in Britain

Kevan Manwaring - fantasy novel involving British and Appalachian folk music and history. See Kevan's homesite, for a list of his many books and publications, HERE.

Tim Hannigan - a 'travel book about travel writers' (narrative non-fiction), due out in May 2021, title The Travel Writing Tribe.


Andy Craven-Griffiths - experimental stage play with elements of performance poetry. See Andy's homesite HERE.

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