Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow

Important notice:

The Royal Literary Fund Fellow only runs in trimester 1 and trimester 2. This scheme is now unavailable until Trimester 1 2022.


About this service

This is a free, confidential service to help you improve your writing skills. Students of any discipline, at any level of study (from undergraduate to postgraduate) – and staff – are welcome to book a session.  

The Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow is a professional, published author whose role is to help you strengthen your writing. At the University of Hull we are lucky to have Simon Rae a, poet, playwright, biographer and broadcaster. 

A one-to-one tutorial can help you:

  • Plan your study time.  

  • Focus your reading for essay, dissertation or thesis writing. 

  • Express your ideas more clearly. 

  • Answer grammar and punctuation questions. 

  • Discover reading to improve your writing and editing skills.

  • Increase your writing skills with the aim of improving your grades.

  • Improve any academic writing – essays, reports, theses, dissertations, book chapters.  

Sessions are for 50 minutes and take place on campus in the Brynmor Jones Library.

Book an appointment

Appointments are currently unavailable and the service will resume in trimester 1.

UK-based students only

Please note these appointments are an independent service provided by the RLF which, as a small UK charity, has constraints on its work hence the online version this year is only available to students currently in the UK.

English for academic purposes (EAP)

The RLF service is intended to help native (or near-native) speakers of English improve their essay-writing skills. It is not suitable for speakers of English as a second language, unless they are already highly proficient in the language. If you are an international student and need help with your English language, please access the MyEnglish International service. 

Our previous Fellows

Simon Rae (2021-2022)

Simon Rae is a poet, playwright, prose writer and broadcaster.  For a decade he wrote topical poems for the Guardian, and for five of those years he presented Radio 4’s popular request programme, Poetry Please!  In 1998, Faber published his definitive biography of W.G.Grace, and the following year he won the National Poetry Competition. His poetry collections include Soft Targets (with cartoons by Willie Rushton) (Bloodaxe), Rapid Response: Guardian Poems 1991-1996 (Headland), The Face of War (with Ronald Searle) (Previous Parrot Press) and Gift Horses (Enitharmon). He has written the libretti for two oratorios by the composer Michael Stimpson, one of which, The Angry Garden has been recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (2021).

After running his own theatre company, Top Edge Productions, for ten years, he turned to fiction, publishing the children’s novels Unplayable (Top Edge Press), Keras (David Fickling Books) and Medusa’s Butterfly (Corgi) before turning to crime.  His Detective Inspector Dalliance has featured in Bodyline, The Pillbox Murders and most recently, Hangman, all published by Nine Elms Books.

He has edited several anthologies, including the Faber Book of Murder and the Faber Book of Christmas, as well as co-editing The Twentieth Century in Poetry (Ebury) with Michael Hulse.

He has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Warwick University, St Hilda’s College, Oxford and now the University of Hull. 

In 2020, he founded the media company Stretched Light with Simon Fielder.

He divides his time between Wales, Oxfordshire and Hull.

Martin Sketchley (2021)

Martin Sketchley is a published novelist, and has spent over 20 years working on business analysis destined for blue-chip multinationals, and organisations such as The British Council and World Bank.

 Cliff Forshaw (2020)

Cliff Forshaw is a poet and painter whose work engages with themes of place, nature, history and myth, and often features creative translation with ‘cover versions’ playing variations on Dante, Rimbaud, Lorca or Rilke.

Trans (Collective Press, 2005) culminates with an updating of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Vandemonian (Arc, 2013) focuses on Van Diemen’s Land and its inhabitants – human and animal, newcomer and Aborigine – to piece together a fragmentary history of Tasmania; Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) travels from Hull to Vietnam and back, by way of Israel, Transylvania, California and Cambodia. In Satyr (Shoestring, 2017) an Elizabethan malcontent, Satyrist, channelled through Cliff’s poems, drawings and paintings, returns from the dead to appraise the contemporary world.

Cliff studied painting at art college before developing an interest in languages and literatures. After working in Spain, Mexico, Germany and New York, and freelance writing in London, he completed a doctorate on Renaissance literature at Oxford. He taught at Bangor, Sheffield and was senior lecturer in English at Hull University, and prosody consultant for the OED. He has been writer in residence in France, Romania, Tasmania, Kyrgyzstan, a Djerrassi resident artist in California, twice a Hawthornden writing fellow, and winner of the Welsh Academi John Tripp award. In 2016 he appeared at the International Poetry Festival of Granada, Nicaragua.

He has collaborated with writers, visual artists and musicians to produce illustrated anthologies and exhibitions and made three short films: Drift (Humber Mouth Literature Festival, 2008); Under Travelling Skies, (Larkin25 award, 2012); and Slipway (Beverley Literature Festival, 2013).

Cliff was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York University 2019/20.

What students say…  

“…my marks have gone up considerably. I have gone from an average of 58 to 72 this year, I cannot thank you enough.” 

- Undergraduate

“I can't explain how helpful it was, not only for cutting words but for my own mental state!” 

- Undergraduate

“I just want you to know how much I appreciate all the help you’ve given me over the past year. I genuinely feel like my writing has improved so much which I think is rare for a lot of people this late on. It has really helped having someone outside of the course to talk through my ideas…”

- Postgraduate 

"It was the most real, honest, and helpful feedback I've ever had!"

- Business student

Frequently asked questions

Appointment format

Appointments are delivered on campus in the Brynmor Jones Library and consist of:

  • A one-to-one consultation, lasting 50 minutes, to drill down into your writing

  • Advice unique to your specific requirement 

  • Completely confidential support 

You are encouraged to email an extract of your work in before your appointment to allow the Fellow to prepare.

What your session might cover
  • Structure and punctuation 

  • Writing with clarity 

  • Rewriting and editing 

  • Planning and time management

  • Tackling the word count 

  • Critical thinking, paraphrasing and referencing 


What NOT to expect from an appointment

RLF Writing Fellows are unable to comment on Creative Writing coursework, proof-read completed material, or undertake EAP tuition.

Questions? Contact Simon at: