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Professor Rebecca Stott

Prof Rebecca Stott

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Letters


Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for Professor Rebecca Stott for the award of Honorary Doctor of Letters.

Rebecca Stott is a novelist, academic, broadcaster, historian, and currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Born in Cambridge, Rebecca spent her early childhood in 1960’s Brighton, growing up in a family that was part of a radical Christian sect called the Exclusive Brethren. Although Rebecca’s father would ultimately liberate his family from the Brethren in 1972, the experience would colour the rest of her life, and lead to her writing the Costa Award-winning memoir, In the Days of Rain.

After her family split from the Brethren, Rebecca was able to participate fully in mainstream life, and she seized the opportunity with both hands – winning a scholarship to Brighton and Hove High School for Girls, then going to York University to study English and Art History. After graduating, Rebecca remained in York to complete her MA and PhD.

In the early 1990’s Rebecca taught at both York and Leeds Universities, before coming to teach at Anglia Ruskin – where she would spend the next 13 years, five of them as Head of Department.

During her time here, Rebecca focussed on high-quality teaching and research, and championed the establishment of creative writing as an exciting and rewarding subject of study. Her legacy is evident in Anglia Ruskin’s popular creative writing postgraduate courses and research programmes.

Rebecca is a member of that highly select band of writers who have been able to successfully bridge the gap between academia and fiction. Her first novel, Ghostwalk – set in 17th century Cambridge - was shortlisted for the Jelf Group First Novel Award and the prestigious Society of Authors First Novel Award. Her second novel, The Coral Thief, set in post-Napoleonic Paris, has been translated into twelve languages and was serialised on Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime.

Rebecca’s most recent memoir In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult, is based upon her experiences within the closed community of the Exclusive Brethren. And the book’s extraordinary power and authenticity could only be achieved by someone who is both a talented novelist and a trained historian. As well, of course, as having first-hand experience of living in such a society.

Rebecca’s extensive list of non-fiction works includes:

  • Tennyson,published in 1996, which explores alternative approaches to analysing Tennyson’s poetry
  • Darwin and the Barnacle, published in 2003, which recounts Darwin’s obsession with cracking the puzzle of a single aberrant species he found in southern Chile
  • Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists, published in 2012 and documenting the history of evolutionary theory pre-Darwin.

Our University has enjoyed a long and proud relationship with Professor Stott, and even after heading off to pastures new, she continued to help with supervisions, and has taken part in discussions hosted by the Anglia Ruskin Literary Society.

Professor Stott is an internationally renowned writer and academic, with long-standing links to our University. She is a true person of letters, and will be an inspirational role model for our students, particularly those studying creative writing.

We are delighted to welcome Rebecca Stott to our Anglia Ruskin community.

Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present Rebecca Stott for the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.