Professor Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing
Professor Wendy O'Shea-Meddour is the Director of Creative Writing at Exeter University. Prior to joining the English Department in 2018, she taught English Literature and Critical Theory at Oxford University, Cardiff University, and Reading University.
Since Professor O'Shea-Meddour's debut was shortlisted for the 'Branford Boase Award for Outstanding First Novel' (2012), she has gone on to publish twenty six children's books, including Lubna and Pebble, which was named as one of the 'Best 10 Childen's Books of the Year' by TIME Magazine, and Tibble and Grandpa, a UKLA 'Outstanding Winner'. Highlights of her writing career include appearances on Woman's Hour, CBeebies' Bedtime Story, CBBC's Newround and the Edinburgh Literary Festival, as well as having her work read on CBeebie's by celebrities including Emily Watson and Louis Theroux The Children's Laureate has described her work as 'simply brilliant,' and she was also the recipient of the US's prestigious 'Margaret Wise Brown Prize for Children's Literature' in 2020.
A strong link between academic research and creative practice is a striking feature of Professor O'Shea-Meddour's writing, and current research projects on 'child wellbeing' and 'migration' in children's literature have resulted in both grants and internationally acclaimed creative writing publications. Award-winning titles include: Lubna and Pebble,Tibble and Grandpa,Tisha and the Blossom, Howard the Average Gecko, A Hen in the Wardrobe, the Wendy Quill series, The Secret Railway series, How the Library (not the Prince) Saved Rapunzel and Dottie Blanket on the Hilltop.
Professor O'Shea-Meddour's main areas of expertise include: children's literature, creative writing, critical theory, feminist theory, world literature and postcolonial theory. She has published academic work on writers and thinks such as Derrida, Sartre, Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi and V S Naipaul, but as an internationally succesful children's author (and an experienced writing consultant and editor), she also supervises a wide range of postgraduate work including creative writing PhDs.
She was awarded a Heritage and Creativity Fellowship enabling her to embark on an interdisciplinary research project examining the construction of 'Migrants, Aliens and the Other in Contemporary Children's Literature'. This was born out of her AHRC funded research on 'The Muslim Other in Contemporary British Fiction' and has led to a collabration with colleagues at Newcastle University and Seven Stories (the National Centre for Children's Books). Though in its early stages, this research has already inspired a forthcoming children's book with with Oxford University Press.
Professor O'Shea-Meddour has also been the recipient of the John C Laurence Award for 'Writing that Improves Relations Between the Races', and an Arts' Council Grant (2018) that supported her project: 'Vulnerable Children and the Power of Picture Books'.
Professor O'Shea-Meddour's current Creative Writing and English Literature PhD students work on themes including: 'Domestic Abuse in the Caribbean Novel', 'Poverty Porn in Working Class Fiction,' 'Time Slips and Belonging in Children's Literature', ''Literary Constructions of Childhood Trauma in Fiction based in Afghanistan', and 'Childwellbeing and Children's Books'.
She recently supervised Cherie Jones' Women's Prize shortlisted novel, 'How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House' to completion.
External impact and engagement
Professor O'Shea-Meddour chairs panels and gives author interviews at a range of well-known literary festivals. Recent highlights include: Oxford Literary Festival, Reading Literary Festival, WOMAD, Cambridge Young People's Film Festival and the Edinburgh Literary Festival. She also helps to convene the annual 'St Hilda's College Writer's Day' at Oxford University.
Professor O'Shea-Meddour also gives creative writing workshops and talks (for both children and adults) in primary schools and libraries across the UK, particularly focusing on venues in deprived areas.
Appeared on Woman's Hour with Jenni Murray, CBBC Newsround, CBeebies' Bedtime Story, the Edinburgh Literary Festival, BBC Radio Wiltshire, BBC Radio Berkshire, guest appearance at the Cambridge Young People's Film Festial, interviewed at the Oxford LIterary Festival (several times), chaired events at the Oxford Literary Festival, annually convene and appear at the St Hilda's College Writers' Day (as part of the Oxford Literary Festival), led creative writing events at the Reading Literary Festival and the Durham Literary Festival. Also gave creative writing workshops for the Arts' Council UK-wide Being Human Festival, and convened, chaired and appeared at a variety of larger non-literary international festivals including WOMAD (World of Music and Dance), Boondocks, and Wychwood Festival.
Convenor of EASM133: 'Structures of Realism'
Convenor of EAS3191: 'Writing for Chlldren and Young Adults'
Teaching on EAS1031: 'Introduction to Creative Writing'
PhD Supervision: (Children's literature, Creative writing, Postcolonial theory, World literature)
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy