Events and Exhibitions — Centre for Culture and Heritage

Now in its third year, the Suffolk Children’s Literature Festival took place on Saturday 18th May to support new and established writers of picture book, middle grade and young adult fiction. The festival’s theme was ‘Extraordinary Journeys’ and members of the public joined practitioners from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and postgraduates on the MA Creative and Critical Writing.

The event provided a full day of talks and workshops from authors, editors, and agents. Vassiliki Tzomaka and Rob Ramsden delivered picture book sessions alongside award-winning author and illustrator, Kate Rolfe. Thomas Taylor and Ann-Marie Howell ran middle grade workshops alongside young adult sessions led by Simon James Green and Visiting Fellow, Ashley-Hickson Lovence. A 90-minute masterclass was delivered by Lindsay Galvin, followed by an agent talk from Darley Anderson’s Clare Wallace, shortlisted in the British Book Awards for Literary Agent of the Year (2024). The day finished with a panel-style pitch even led by Clare, Lindsay and Ann-Marie. Three students from the MA in Creative and Critical Writing were selected by the judging panel to recieve feedback on their work-in-progress!

The festival was organised by Lindsey Scott with support from Darragh Martin, Vassiliki Tzomaka, Rob Ramsden, and Caroline Roberts. Huge thanks to everyone involved, and especially Dial Lane Books for providing a pop-up bookstore with raffles, book signings and advance copies of Ashley’s new YA novel, Wild East (Penguin, 2024).

On 17th May the School of Social Sciences and Humanities hosted their event ‘Celebrating 325 Years of Dissent: The Unitarian Meeting House in Ipswich. This was to mark 325 years of the Unitarian Meeting House, based in Friars Street, Ipswich. 

The Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House was built in 1699 and is a Grade One listed building. It is beautifully reflected in the black glass windows of the Grade One-listed Willis Towers Watson building in the Ipswich town centre. 

In the morning, free guided tours of the Meeting House were offered to members of the public. Over 60 people came to look around and learn more about its history from church members, volunteers, and Ipswich Town Guide Margaret Hancock.

In the afternoon a series of lectures and exhibits took place at The Hold. Many documents about the early years of the Meeting House that are stored in the Suffolk Archives were put on show. The speakers were Minister Emeritus Rev Cliff Reed, who delivered the talk "We are Now in the Tabernacle of Meeting: The Origins and Founders of the Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House" and Dr Elizabeth Kingston Harrison, who delivered the talk "A Comet in the System: Joseph Priestley and the Emergence of Rational Dissent in the Eighteenth Century."

The event was sponsored by The Centre for Culture and Heritage, Friends of the Unitarian Meeting House, The Suffolk Archives, and the Ipswich Society.

On Tuesday 30th April, the Centre for Culture and Heritage hosted an international symposium on the life and works of ghost story writer, M.R. James. ‘Sequestered Places, Heaving Seas: The Life and Works of M.R. James’ celebrated the 120th anniversary of James’ first ghost story collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904) and brought together scholars and researchers working in diverse fields including literature, film, history, art, games design and archaeology.

Montague Rhodes James (1862 - 1936) is widely regarded as one of the greatest ghost story writers. His published collections have never been out of print, while popular tales such as ‘A Warning to the Curious’ and ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ have been adapted for the screen and hailed as defining the modern style of horror fiction. Born in Kent, James moved to Great Livermere, Suffolk, with his family in 1865. Some of his most famous ghost stories are set in the county under disguised names such as Seaburgh (Aldeburgh) and Burnstow (Felixstowe). James was also an influential scholar and medievalist.

Academics from the UK, Moscow, Germany, Madrid and the US attended the symposium to deliver keynotes and papers on James’ life and works. Simon Loxley, author of A Geography of Horror: the Ghost Stories of M.R. James and the Suffolk Landscape, delivered the morning keynote on James’ Suffolk stories. The afternoon keynote was delivered by Professor Matt Hills on modernising and re-versioning James’ works. Of the twenty presentations, five speakers were academics from the University of Suffolk: a huge thank you to Keith Ruiter (History), Jenny Amos (Linguistics), Katherine Allen (Social Justice and Crime), Helena Bacon (Film), and Matthew Bowman (Arts) for their fantastic papers!

The conference was organised by Lindsey Scott and Jamie Bernthal-Hooker and delivered in partnership with The Hold Suffolk Archives. The celebrations included a conference dinner, a double screening of James adaptations, a mini exhibition on Haunted Suffolk, and a raffle for limited edition wood-engraved prints by Keith A. Pettit. Special thanks to Andrea Smith and PhD student Rose Gant for all their help on the day!

On Monday 29th April, the Centre for Culture and Heritage hosted its first graduate conference, ‘Phantasmagoria: In Conversation with Ghosts.’ This one-day multidisciplinary conference explored what it means to be haunted through meaningful discussions about spirits, memories, histories, stories, places, the supernatural and the unexplained.

The conference took place at The Hold Suffolk Archives and included 20-minute presentations from 24 speakers with almost 100 guests in attendance. Papers were delivered by PhD students from HE institutions across the UK including Essex, Cambridge, Westminster, Buckingham, Aberystwyth, University College London, and University of Suffolk. Several students on the MA Creative and Critical Writing also shared their practice of writing ghost stories for the forthcoming MA anthology, Suffolk Haunts: Original Stories Inspired by the Legends and Landscapes of East Anglia (2024).

The conference was organised by Lindsey Scott and Jamie Bernthal-Hooker with the support of a team of English alumni and PhD students, Rose Gant, Molly Britton, Amber Spalding, and James Phillips. Special thanks to these supporters and everyone who helped with the planning and delivery of this event!

14th April 2024
Six final year English students had their work performed at the INK Festival - the UK’s leading producer of original short plays.

The students worked on their scripts as part of the Writing for Performance module run by Katie Ward, who also forged the connection with INK. The festival received more than a thousand scripts and the organisers felt those from our students were amongst the best and worthy of performance by a group of professional actors.

The performance was oversubscribed - with prospective audience members having to be turned away. Those who did manage to get in thoroughly enjoyed the show - with rapturous laughter and applause for the students’ work.

Three students had complete plays performed: A Missing Piece (by Janina Åkerhielm), Electrical Attraction (by Joanne Searle), and Trophies (by Zoe Whent). Three others has excerpts presented: Cameron Cruz’s ‘Snow White and the Several Dwarfs’ (by E.J. Daniels), Spilled Milk (by Georgia Mills), and The Hellifield Girl (by Sophie Wilks).

The students’ biographies were listed in the festival programme alongside established writers including Charlie Mackesy, Kate Fox, Luke Wright and James McDermott.

Learn more about INK festival 2024.

13th April 2024
This year the Student New Angle Prize (SNAP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary of supporting new writing talent within the region.

The competition is an annual event and offers all students of University of Suffolk the chance to enter by submitting 500 words of original writing as prose or poetry, influenced by the East Anglian region. The competition is a chance to discover new voices and encourages students to add to the literary representations that continue to make East Anglia an important place for art, literature and poetry.

The following talented students made the shortlist.

  • Rooted by Sheena Brit
  • Colour of Our Days by Jenny Neill
  • You Can’t Hold Back the Sea by Tracy Davies
  • Wenhaston’s Doom by Louise Carr
  • The Habitat by EJ Daniels
  • Shingle Street by Harriet Sellers

The overall winner was Jenny Neill with Colour of Our Days. Jenny will receive a cash prize of £200 and will be invited to the showcase event for the New Angle Prize. The runner up was Louise Carr with Wenhaston’s Doom. Louise will receive a £50 cash prize.

A big congratulations goes out to the winner, runner up and those shortlisted/longlisted.

10th April 2024
Katie Ward, lecturer in English and Creative Writing, has published her second novel, Pathways. A novel of both the heart and the head, it follows the story of Cara, a dedicated neuroscientist and her almost-stepdaughter, Heather.

Set in Cambridge and Las Vegas - described in the book as ‘adult Hogwarts’ and ‘adult Disneyland’, Pathways is about connections forged and connections failed, and how people struggle to understand themselves and each other.

Pathways has been described as a ‘compelling and original novel’, ‘thrillingly written, delicately accomplished’ and ‘sublime.’

The book was launched on 10th April at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, hosted by Katie’s English colleague, Andrea Smith with Amanda Hodkginson.

23 September 2022
In association with the National Archives

Popular historian and television presenter, Lucy Worsley was in Ipswich this week to chat about her new book as the University of Suffolk launched its Centre for Culture and Heritage.

She took part in a livestream National Archives talk in partnership with the University of Suffolk about her new biography, Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman and took questions from the live audience and online fans overseen by Jamie Bernthal-Hooker, a Visiting Fellow at the University, and an internationally recognised authority on Christie.

Guests also queued to have their own copies of Lucy’s book signed at a drinks reception which formed part of a day held at The Hold to celebrate to launch of the University’s Centre for Culture and Heritage.

An afternoon public symposium also focused on the Queen of Crime and her life and Jamie was joined by fellow Christie experts Sarah Martin, PhD researcher at the University of Chester, and co-organiser of the Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of Crime Conference, and Benedict Morrison, lecturer in literature at the University of Exeter and contributor to the Bloomsbury Handbook of Agatha Christie, to discuss a range of points about the author’s life including marriage, archaeology, success and the infamous year of 1926 when she disappeared.

Dr Amanda Hodgkinson, Associate Professor English and Creative Writing at the University of Suffolk said: “In line with our centre's mission to champion and value culture and heritage across the UK and beyond, the University of Suffolk partnered with The National Archives in London for the Lucy Worsley evening, livestreaming the event to well over 1000 viewers.  

“The Centre intends to hold regular events throughout the year and aims to inspire a pride in our history and culture through research, exhibitions, events, education, and outreach activities.

“Being able to partner with the London National Archives and share our wonderful launch evening with viewers from around the world was a particular pleasure.

“For me, this exciting event with historian, author and much-loved TV presenter Lucy Worsley, is an example of the ways in which the centre intends to connect with communities regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Also commenting on the success of the events, Jamie Bernthal-Hooker said: “It was a joy to celebrate the launch of the Centre for Culture and Heritage with such a fun and rewarding event.

“The atmosphere was one of curiosity and pleasure, and there was a real buzz in the air as we thought about a very famous writer in new ways.

“In the evening, national treasure Lucy Worsley shared her infectious enthusiasm for Agatha Christie, and brought her life and history alive. What a wonderful way to start the academic year.”





18 January 2023
Public Lecture at the Hold — 4.00–5:30pm

How do you research when the archives are closed? Dr Jamie Bernthal-Hooker spent much of the COVID-19 lockdowns compiling a 300,000-word critical companion to the published and unpublished works of bestselling crime writer Agatha Christie. The companion seeks to provide the last word on everything the world-famous ‘Queen of Crime’ ever wrote, including exclusive insights into stories and letters that have never been seen by the general public. However, with access to libraries and archives cut off, and an ever-looming deadline, he drew on his own lifetime of research and a network of peers to make sure everything was covered.

In this talk, Jamie explains the research hurdles and opportunities they presented. He also shares surprising insights into Agatha Christie, unearthing secrets about the world’s most popular novelist that have never been shared before.

Dr Jamie Bernthal-Hooker (J.C. Bernthal) is a Visiting Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Suffolk. A specialist in queer theory and the fiction of Agatha Christie, he is the Dove Award-winning author of numerous volumes including Queering Agatha Christie and Agatha Christie: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction.

2 March 2023
Symposium at The Hold, Suffolk Archives, Ipswich

Evening reception to view Landscape Rebels exhibition at Christchurch Mansion

Join researchers from University of Suffolk, Anglia Ruskin University, University of Southampton, California Institute of Technology, and Tate to look at new research, contemporary readings, and shifting perceptions of watery landscapes in art, science and digital technology. 

Close Look, Distant View coincides with Colchester and Ipswich Museums Landscape Rebels exhibition featuring artworks by Turner, Constable and Monet alongside global stories about the climate crisis at Christchurch Mansion (22 October 2022 to 16 April 2023) and Suffolk’s Green Story exhibition (4 February to 18 May 2023) at The Hold, Suffolk Archives, Ipswich.

Close Look, Distant View is organized by Dr Jane Watt and Dr Susan Barnet (both School of Engineering, Arts, Science and Technology, University of Suffolk) in collaboration with Emma Roodhouse (Colchester and Ipswich Museums) and in partnership with The Hold Suffolk Archives. It is supported by Suffolk Climate Change Partnership and the University of Suffolk.