School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law
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Dr Sophie Nicholls

Sophie Nicholls

About Sophie Nicholls

Sophie Nicholls is a novelist and poet. She joined Teesside University in January 2014 and set up the MA Creative Writing (Distance Learning) in 2015, of which she is Programme Leader.

She previously worked at the universities of Sussex, Leeds and York and in private practice as a therapist.

Sophie received her First Class MA Hons in English Language from the University of Edinburgh (1994) and her doctorate from the University of Sussex (2006), where she also taught on the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development. Her doctoral thesis was funded by the AHRC and explored ideas around writing the body and ways that creative writing can help to facilitate a felt, bodily sense of self, developing a model for using writing in educational and health care contexts.

Sophie's novel, The Dress, was an Amazon Top 10 bestseller in 2011-12, has sold over 165,000 copies to date and has now been translated into Italian, French, Bulgarian and Polish. A new bestselling edition of The Dress was published in paperback and e-book by Twenty7 Books (Bonnier Zaffre) in July 2016. Her second novel Miss Mary's Book of Dreams (Bonnier Zaffre) was published in March 2017 with a further novel forthcoming in 2018.

Sophie’s poems have been published widely in poetry journals and magazines and her poetry collection Refugee (2011), partly inspired by her work with the organisation Freedom from Torture, is published by Salt. She is currently working on a new collection.

Sophie is completing a monograph, The Feeling of Writing: What Happens When We Write and Why It Matters, which is informed by her PhD research, her own creative practice and over twenty years of experience in teaching creative writing in a range of settings. She researches and publishes in the field of creative writing and wellbeing, including the medical humanities.

Research interests and activities

Research: Creative Writing
Sophie’s research interests are in the links between creative writing and wellbeing, reflective writing and creative writing in healthcare, therapeutic and personal and professional development settings. 

Research: Digital and hybrid pedagogies, writing in groups, digital spaces
Sophie has a background in learning technologies and instructional design and worked for several years as an internal learning consultant for Reuters, the global news and financial information agency. As Programme Leader of the MA Creative Writing (Distance Learning) she is always exploring new ways of writing in digital spaces, hybrid pedagogies, open learning, OERs and digital wellbeing.

Her interest in ways of writing the body, embodied writing and models of creative process - particularly the connections between writing, consciousness, developmental psychology, cognitive science and psychotherapeutic theory - increasingly lead to thinking about how these ideas work in group settings and digital spaces.

Research network:
Along with Megan Hayes, Sophie is the founder of Creative Writing Lab, a research network for creative writing and wellbeing. 

PhD and research opportunities

PhD supervision:
Megan C Hayes. Wording the Self: A Positive Psychological Approach to Creative Writing as "Becoming More." 

Jessica Wortley, Writing Nature: Ways in which writing in response to nature might be beneficial to usas writers and as selves.    

Sophie welcomes enquiries and research proposals from prospective students working in any of the following areas: 

  • contemporary poetry
  • fiction and particularly the area of so-called 'women's fiction'
  • creative writing and the self 
  • creativity and creative process, including creative writing pedagogies
  • therapeutic or ‘developmental’ creative writing, writing in health care
  • writing in digital and hybrid spaces
  • writing for personal and professional development 

Learning and teaching interests

Sophie co-leads the University's Grand Challenge theme: Learning for the 21st Century.

In the news

  • BBC Radio York, Adam Tomlinson and Anna Wallace, 27/07/2016:
    BBC Radio York
    Teesside University Creative Writing lecturer Sophie Nicholls talks about her career as a writer.

  • York a perfect fit for Sophie's Dress
    The Press, 12/07/2016; York Press, 12/07/2016
    Teesside University's lecturer, Sophie Nicholls' book "The Dress" was inspired by a vintage shop in York.

  • Lecturer's work for torture survivors
    Evening Gazette, 20/03/2015, pg 13
    Creative Writing lecturer Sophie Nicholls has launched her poetry collection entitled Refugee relaunched on the Amazon Kindle with all proceeds going to the Freedom from Torture charity.