Oxford Universtity has a vibrant creative writing scene and here are just a few places to look to feed and showcase your creative talent… 


The Failed Novelists. 

If you’re interested enough in writing to have got this far, then you’ll want to know about the Failed Novelists. The biggest creative writing group of our university, they are a non-scary ‘writer’s support group’ which (aptly) meets in the Welfare Room of Teddy Hall and addresses its newsletters ‘Dear Failures’. Although the prospect of spending your Sunday afternoons amongst the literati of Oxford might sound daunting, current president Alex Wooley assures me that they endeavour to be kind, at least to first timers, and that ‘the point of the society is feedback, for free, about people’s work.’

The society was formed, back in 2005, after a night out when it was discovered that all the conquered revellers had written novels in their adolescence. Once the drafts had been dug out and shared over restorative cups of coffee in a cafe, there was no pride left to these founders. From then onwards, the society was established and they shared their newer work.

But whilst the tea has gone – ‘too difficult to bring all the mugs and the kettles and things’ – the spirit has remained and the Failed Novelists have been meeting ever since. New additions to the programme have been the production of an annual anthology of the Failures’ work which goes on sale and sells a decent number of copies. There is also an annual creation of a collaborative novel to which all Failure’s are invited to contribute.

Alex himself has appreciated the positive effect of the society on his work, admitting that ‘quite often I’ll write something and I’ll think that it is perfectly obvious, but everyone else wonders – ‘Why does your mind work like that?’ He points out that ‘the communal aspect is extremely useful’ for writers who otherwise engage in a fairly lonely communication between soul and screen. 

If you are interested in contacting this group, then email failed.novelists@gmail.com


Oxford University Poetry Society.

OUPS both brings professional poets to Oxford and supports the work of student poets. Hence we have invited speaker events but also open mic nights as a platform for Oxford’s student performers. We take submissions for the society magazine Ash in the forms of poetry, photography and essays. Weekly workshops at 7 pm on Wednesday in the Mitre pub provide brilliant opportunities for poets to develop their writing. We do a lot for ourselves but also try to co-operate with other groups; this term we’re hosting a 3rd week reading by Tom Chivers and Patrick McGuinness with St Anne’s Arts Week and a Shakespeare recitation competition with OUDS. We’ve had a range of things going on and anyone interested can join our facebook group or email hanzla.macdonald@ccc.ox.ac.uk.

Hanzla MacDonald


The Writers’ Block

The Writers’ Block is a show on Oxide radio that sprung from an idea we had to showcase Oxford playwrights. Over time, however, our remit has changed, though our commitment to sourcing and showcasing the best of Oxford student writing remains. Basically, we read out submissions from a variety of genres, reacting to them in our own unique way and having a bit of a laugh in the process (with a few guests and songs thrown in for good measure). We try to respond to everything we’re sent positively, no matter what the content, so there’s no fear of savage dissection of your carefully crafted work. If you’re interested in submitting, e-mail your work to thewritersblockoxide@gmail.com.
Credit to Huw Fullerton, Helen Joslin and Benedict Hardy

Huw Fullerton

Across Oxford, there are student writers, separated into disparate groups, unaware of each other, writing for themselves but dreaming of publication. CoffeeHouse is a new project that will bring together writers from across the university into a unified online community with two main goals: contributors will be able to submit writing to be displayed, and the community will then be able to read, critique and offer improvements. CoffeeHouse is due to launch late Trinity and will be a new go-to resource for student writers, both to display finished pieces, and to get opinions and direction for works-in-progress. For information, or to contribute, please contact andrew.irwin@wadh.ox.ac.uk

Andrew Irwin