As if we'd been there
The thorny bog and the human whole


Just a quick post to say that at my viva examination this morning, my PhD in Creative Writing was awarded a pass  I have a couple of typos to correct, and that's pretty much it. (There are no grades with PhDs. You either pass, or fail).

The day had a certain extra spice because one of my examiners was poet and novelist Philip Gross, who the evening before was awarded the T S Eliot prize for his collection The Water Table, and much in demand by the BBC and others. The other examiner, Julia Boffey, is a specialist in medieval and 16th century literature, specially the texts and their reception, which is almost embarrassingly appropriate for A Secret Alchemy, and I was relieved that she didn't find any howlers.

In fact, once I'd stopped being nervous, I enjoyed the whole thing: what's not to like about two extremely knowledgeable readers spending an hour discussing your work with you? The PhD's been a long haul - the Creative Writing PhD is a peculiar creature - but I wouldn't have missed it for anything.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Melissa Marsh

A very big congratulations! Well done!

Brava Emma.
There should be music!

Laura Vivanco



Well done, doctor.


Fantastic news - but so well deserved! Many congratulations.

Claire Beynon

Congratulations, Emma. Alchemy and mathematics make auspicious disciples and teachers. I'd love to read your dissertation/thesis one day. In the here and now, I hope you're out celebrating. (Terrific blog, by the way - I am one of your regular, if silent, visitors...)

Sue Guiney

I'm thrilled to be able to congratulate you once again, here, there and everywhere. Fantastic!

Emma Darwin

Thank you, everyone. I'm very thrilled, even though I have a cold too horrid to make be be able to face so much as a celebratory glass of fizz, and the celebratory present-to-self has to wait till the PLR payments come through.

Good to hear your voice, Claire. Most of the thesis is A Secret Alchemy - the rest is a commentary, which is of limited interest to all but the most die-hard of fans (not sure I have any of those...) Am hoping one day to turn some of the more general discussion of historical fiction into a book one day, when I have enough economic and temporal elbow room...

Sally Z

Very many congratulations, Doctor Darwin! Now that has a certain ring to it, don't you think? And I, for one, would love to read that non-fiction book. (But not if it prevents you from writing more fiction.)

Jane Smith

Dr Darwin, many congratulations. You've worked incredibly hard for this, and deserve it. You could consider offering your commentary as a POD book, or a free download: I bet it will be of interest to your many fans, and could be used to raise money for a good cause--or even to bring your much-deserved celebration forward by a couple of weeks!

Well done. I am so very pleased for you.


Samantha Tonge

Yay, well done!


Congrats! That's wonderful, and you've had a long, hard slog to get the degree. I'd love to just get an MA in creative writing, but it'll have to wait until I retire.

adele geras

Terrific news, Emma! Well done!

Nicola Morgan

Dr Darwin, WOW! Well done!

Emma Darwin

Oooh, I've come over all wobbly with all these lovely congrats. Thank you, everyone.

Jane, I hadn't thought of self-pubbing it. Hmmmm. Interesting.

Nicola, I owe you, big time, as they say. What alignment of the cosmos prompted your hist fic post nicely in time for me to rehearse all my arguments, I don't know, but it was such a help!


Oh well done ye Dr Darwin!

Kellie Jackson

Well done Emma!! Fantastic acheivement.xx

Kellie Jackson

woops.. I meant... achievement.


Congrats, Emma!


Congratulations. It sounds terrifying.

Jenn Ashworth

Congratulations. What brilliant news...

I went for a meeting to discuss doing a creative writing PhD myself recently. I'm not certain yet, and I'm going to put off making the decision for another few months until I get certain, but your posts about your writing, both academic and creative, and the PhD generally have always been really informative for me. I'm so glad you got it!



Congratulations Emma. Like Claire, I am a silent visitor to your blog. Having recently embarked on a Creative Writing PhD myself I found your post on that subject particularly useful. (In fact Newcastle Uni are running a one day conference called Creative Friction on Creative Writing PhDs in April (22nd, I think)if you are interested in submitting something???) Hope you'll keep blogging even though you've now completed...

Vanda Symon

I hope you have recovered from your cold enough to crack open the bubbly! Congratulations on having the sheer determination and stamina to see a PhD through, as well, of course, the skill and ability to write a fabulous novel.


Well done! Well deserved too, I loved A Secret Alchemy and the research you must have done for it shone through in the best possible way.

Paul Lamb

Well earned congratulations to you, Ms. Darwin!

Emma Darwin

Thanks so much, Cat, Kellie (Kellei), Sam, Debs, Jenn (do email me if you want to know more), Writeherewritenow (Thanks for mentioning that - I hadn't heard about it and it sounds great), Vanda, Womagwriter....

Coming over all emotional again!

Emma Darwin

Paul, crossed with you - thank you!


I'm catching up and sorry to have missed this on the day, but many many congratulations! I do hope you celebrated in style!

Emma Darwin

Thanks Cat, Kellie, Sam, Debs, and for all the kind remarks.

Jenn, good luck with the PhD - do get in touch if I can say anything more that would be useful.

Writehere, lovely to hear your voice as well as seeing you in the Stats. How's the PhD going? I saw about the Conference, and am trying to clear the decks, but I'm terrible for over-committing myself because I fancy something, and Must Be STrong...

Vanda and Womagwriter, thank you. Glad you approve of the novel - sometimes I think people assume it'll be very heavy going, given its origins. (Except, of course, the PhD isn't the novel's origin, it's the other way round....)

Emma Darwin

Thanks everyone!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)