IHUK talent development

The work of IHUK is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott. We celebrate his legacy in the year of the 250th anniversary of his birth. The spirit of the young Walter Scott as he explored the places, people and events of his native Scotland, is re-ignited in the collective imagination young writers living in our roller-coaster world of upheaval, online-living and re-awakening after national trauma. A study of history and a taste for exploration of the lessons of history has never been more relevant as our world rattles on.

We have devised a pattern of writing tasks, thinkspace tasks and ways to get you exploring the world around you as a primary source for your writing. We focus on gathering the information of your senses and how your own self is the starting point for all your creations.

We are interested in what makes your writing individual and idiosyncratic. Our job is not to tell you what kind of writing you should produce. In fact we understand the word ‘writing’ in the widest possible way – meaning that you are free to choose your mode of writing.

Our writer-tutors have ways to take you under the surface of the craft of writing, as well as to understand and celebrate the skills you already have. This process allows you to find what your next step as a writer will be.


I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone for putting all of it together and making the experience so fantastic. I love how in each session we were all involved and shared our ideas with each other.

GA, YWSP shortlister 2020

In 2020, in response to the first Covid lockdown, we set up an online project working with a group of young historical fiction writers from across the world.

In 2021 we created an online Summerschool that broadened the scope of IHUK 2020 to bring in online collaborations with two historical sites – Boughton House in Northamptonshire, and the historical Library at Innerpeffray near Perth.

In 2022 we are continuing with our 2021 offer, and adding two more The Lure and Lore of the Sea based around Trinity House of Leith in Edinburgh and Falling Statues continuing our idea of understanding how the present is the result of the past.

We have been working predominantly, though not exclusively, with writers who have been shortlisted for the Young Walter Scott Prize.

Through the Young Norfolk Arts Trust we have also been able to expand our reach to young writers internationally.

We will reserve a few places for those who get in touch with us out of their passion for Historical Fiction, for developing their craft as writers and who are willing to commit to the month-long online IHUK ‘boot-camp’.

The Imagining History UK faculty is:

  • Elizabeth Ferretti – writer
  • Stephanie Haxton – writer/historian
  • Dr Dina Gusejnova – historian
  • Roxanne Matthews – art historian
  • Matilda McMorrow – librarian/online content creator
  • Alan Caig Wilson – arts educator

We are privileged to have the participation of Lara Haggerty, 32nd Keeper of Books at The Library at Innerpeffray.

Writers on the IHUK Summerschool are granted special access to the remarkable Adam Matthews Digital Archive – a library of around 11 million documents indexed and collated. We are indebted to the team there and for allowing the writers an infinity of rabbit holes down which to travel to fuel their inspiration. www.amdigital.co.uk.

Check out descriptions of our 2020 and 2021 programmes here.

In real life

In 2021, as the world began to re-open we were able cautiously to set up an in-real workshop. We re-established our partnerships with Farlingaye School in Woodbridge, and the management team of the open-air National Trust site at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.

This was a return to our whole-day writing workshop style. In mid-July, on two beautifully sunny and windy days, two groups of young writers, armed only with notebooks and pencils, explored the physical, historical and sensory detail of this extraordinary historical site. Exploring Sutton Hoo is to begin to explore the origins of England. So much is not available to the naked eye – meaning that so much is richly available to the imagination.

This was Woodbridge school’s first external learning trip since the relaxation of lockdown rules, and the writers took full advantage of it.

We are honoured that Farlingaye chose to continue a working relationship started in 2015, and especially in a year where so much is uncertain.

Our work is holistic – it is not simply about creative writing but about benefiting a young writer in a much wider range of ways. Here is a wordcloud taken from their responses on the day, which signposts the breadth and depth of their engagement with Sutton Hoo.

In 2022, we will once again be visiting Sutton Hoo and also returning to work with pre-pandemic partner schools and venues in Cornwall and Edinburgh. We will also be adding new workshops at The Library of Innerpeffray and at a venue in Edinburgh yet to be revealed.

For information about how our in-real-life workshops are organised please click here

For more information about how your school or venue could become a partner in creating an Imagining History UK workshop, please contact Alan Caig Wilson, Director of IHUK.

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