Novelist Roddy Doyle to join Jon McGregor at Nottingham launch of The Letters Page

Thursday, 03 October 2019

The award-winning novelist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle will be talking about his life and work at a ‘literary cabaret’ event to launch the latest edition of The Letters Page – an unusual journal of creative writing produced at the University of Nottingham.

Roddy Doyle will be the star guest of the city’s own famous novelist Jon McGregor. Jon edits the journal as part of his role as Professor of Creative Writing in the School of English. The Letters Page is an imaginatively-designed ‘book in a box’ containing a wide variety of stories, poems, memoir, travelogue and criticism – all in the form of handwritten letters from contributors all over the world.

©Martin Makowski

The popular Nottingham jazz venue, Peggy’s Skylight in George Street, will be hosting the event from 6pm onwards on Tuesday 15thOctober 2019. Prolific and popular Irish author and Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle will be on stage at 8pm in conversation with Jon McGregor about his writing career and will be reading from his latest work.

Jon McGregor ©Jo Wheeler

McGregor is the award-winning author of several novels including If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Reservoir 13 and is one of the writers putting Nottingham on the world stage as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Jon said:

“We are thrilled that Roddy Doyle has agreed to come to Nottingham as our most famous letter writer in this new edition of The Letters Page. We sent Roddy a copy of the previous edition of the journal and he liked it so much he sent us his own contribution to the new one and now people can hear him read it at our launch.

“I’m really interested in exploring and celebrating the handwritten letter as it’s a form of communication which has almost died out in the digital age. Creating the journal is a lot of fun. It’s exciting to sit in the office with my creative writing students opening all the letters that are sent in from people from all walks of life – some fantastic writing.”

Roddy Doyle said: "I'm delighted to be coming to Nottingham to launch the new issue of The Letters Page; I've been a big fan from the early days, and I know that many people share my fondness for letters and letter writing. I'm looking forward to a good chat with Jon McGregor about the role letters have played in my own life; and of course, I'll be talking about everything else as well."

Tickets for the event are available online here or via or telephone 0115 924 0176. 

In this video, Jon McGregor gives his thoughts on The Letters Page and its place in contemporary literary culture...

Additional thoughts from Jon McGregor on The Letters Page:

“Getting creative writing students involved in choosing which letters to publish is a really worthwhile exercise. It makes them really think about what makes good writing and I’m able to show them quite often what distinguishes a ‘quite interesting’ piece of writing from a really good, compelling, engaging piece of writing. Often it comes down to whether you want to read the letter to the end. We are keen to publish work by people who don’t think of themselves as writers, but who understand the form of a letter and have written it in a very unselfconscious way.

“Sometimes people write to us as themselves, other people will write to us as a character they’ve invented. There’s such a lot of scope for playing with this form of writing.  

“Smaller literary journals have flourished in recent years and have a place in our contemporary culture because they’re doing the job of curation, which everyone is desperate for in this digital age with its overwhelming range of platforms of content. We can cherry-pick the best of contemporary writing from professionals and amateurs alike, and present it in a beautiful, accessible and indeed collectible book.

“It’s a really exciting time for writers, and readers, because the gatekeeping has shifted. Interesting writing is not just happening online, it’s happening in print, at live events, and I’m really excited about how our journal fits into that landscape. We can encourage our students to see themselves as part of that landscape and contribute to new writing and supporting new writing.

“There is a real appetite for the preservation and celebration of pre-digital forms of communication and indeed entertainment, as seen in the renewed popularity of vinyl records and traditional film photography for example. It’s an exciting event nowadays to receive a handwritten letter but our journal isn’t an anti-email campaign, it’s more an exploration of the differences of our responses to both forms of correspondence.

“We’re working now with design students at Nottingham Trent University in our curation of the letters we continue to receive for The Letters Page. We want to give the students free reign and see how they respond to all the source material that we have gathered, all these letters that have arrived.”

— Ends­­­ —

Story credits

For more information please contact Emma Rayner, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Arts on +44 (0)115 748 4413

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager, Faculty of Arts
Phone: 0115 748 4413

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Notes to editors:

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