School of Arts

Martin Goodman

BA, PhD (Lancaster)


Martin GoodmanProfessor of Creative Writing

Director of the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing

Email: m.j.goodman@hull.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1482 465892
Room: Larkin building, Room 249 (L249)

Twitter: @MartinGoodman2
Website: www.martingoodman.com


I work across fiction and nonfiction. My first novel, On Bended Knees, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize (now the Costa), and my most recent nonfiction, a biography of the scientist J.S.Haldane, Suffer & Survive, won 1st Prize. Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008.

My research process is immersive, placing myself at the heart of current events or in the landscape of historical ones. This feeds through into my fiction and nonfiction. In fiction, I work through different genres. Particularly innovative is my approach to creative nonfiction, which sees me mediate between experts in different fields and an educated lay audience. The current example of that is Client Earth (Scribe UK, 2017), a book for a mainstream readership on the spread of public interest environmental law from America through Europe and Africa and into China.

As an AHRC / BBC New Generation thinker, it has recently been great fun to write and present for radio. One series for BBC Radio 4 saw me explore iconic architecture of the North, while another saw me engage with the Cheshire writer Alan Garner.

I run the independent publishing house Barbican Press, to bring out edge books that might not fit so comfortably into mainstream houses. Within the University, I am Director of the Philip Larkin Centre. This brings the finest international writers to Hull where they engage in deep conversation about their work, and promotes world-class writing from within Hull.

Selected Publications


  • Ectopia, Barbican Press, 2013
  • Look Who's Watching, Caffeine Nights, 2011
  • Slippery When Wet, Transita, 2006
  • On Bended Knees, Macmillan, 1992 (Whitbread shortlisted)

Non fiction

  • Suffer & Survive: The Extreme Life of J.S.Haldane, Simon & Schuster, 2007
  • Mentoring for Creative Writers, with Sara Maitland for New Writing North/Arts Council England, 2007
  • On Sacred Mountains, Heart of Albion, 2002
  • I Was Carlos Castaneda, Three Rivers / Random House, 2001
  • In Search of the Divine Mother, Harper Collins, 1998


  • The Bronze Age Man of Jodrell Bank, on the writer Alan Garner, BBC Radio 4, 2014
  • Living the Lives of Others – In the BBC Radio 3 Essay slot, November 2012
  • The New North, a two-part documentary for Radio 4 on how the north of England is reimaging itself through culture and iconic architecture. May / June 2013

Recent Articles / Chapters / Stories

  • ‘The High-Altitude Research of Mabel Purefoy FitzGerald, 1911-13,’ Notes & Records: The Royal Society Journal for the History of Science. 69,1, March 2015
  • ‘The Naturalist and the Natural Boy: The reclaiming of self in Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son,’ Life Writing, Taylor & Francis, 11, 1, 85-101, 2014
  • ‘Research for the Creative Writing PhD,’ Writing in Education Issue 63, Spring 2014
  • ‘The Other Side of the Poison Cloud: Canadian Soldiers as English Patients after the First Gas Attacks,’ in Sandra Barkhof and Angela K. Smith (eds.) War and Displacement in the Twentieth Century, Routledge, New York, 2014
  • ‘Lessons from Cruising’, Warwick Review, September 2013
  • ‘Teaching Writers’ Commentaries’ - Writing in Education, Summer 2012
  • ‘Mom, in Passing’ Short Fiction, Issue 5, 2011
  • ‘My Tri-athlete', The International Literary Quarterly, Issue 10, February 2010
  • ‘Ten Challenges for Teaching Writing at University,’ Writing in Education, Spring 2010.
  • ‘Letters to the Parishioners’, The Edinburgh Review, January 2009
  • ‘India, by design’, The Edinburgh Review, January 2007
  • ‘Zimbabwe through its Writers’, The Edinburgh Review, October 2006


  • Feeding the Roses, performance by the Virtual Theatre Project at Wake Forest University, 2007 – winner in the ‘Pen is a Mighty Sword’ playwriting competition.


My research falls into several categories.

My current nonfiction project looks at how environmental lawyers have taken on the Earth as their client. It was funded by the McIntosh Foundation, Washington D.C.. Co-written with James Thornton, it will be published as Client Earth by Scribe UK in January 2017.

On-going research focuses in on 1911-1922, a period covered in my award-winning biography of the scientist J.S. Haldane, Suffer & Survive. My keenest focus is on gas warfare in World War 1, and resulting medical advances that stemmed from treatment of gas victims.

A separate strand of nonfiction research, which also feeds into my fiction, is ‘Varieties of 20th and 21st century Religious Experience.’ A pattern of immersive research has seen me write books about contemporary Peruvian shamanism; the tradition of guru workshop in India and its reach into the west; sacred mountains in different traditions and cultures across the world; the Church of England as it faces new moral outlooks; and currently, the materialization of a new form of Zen Buddhism in the west.

In fiction, a theme is the inheritance of war guilt by succeeding generations. The latest project, What the Words Miss Out, looks at Music and the Holocaust.

Other fiction projects engage with the urban fantasy genre, dystopian fiction (as in my recent novel Ectopia) or investigate contemporary gay identity.

I also keep up to speed with the latest developments in publishing by running an independent publishing house, Barbican Press. It has some focus on edge fiction coming out of PhD programs, but keeps exploring new areas. A move into poetry, increased work on texts in translation, a focus on telling stories from Hull, and a move into graphic YA literature, are part of current developments.


I teach courses from first year undergraduate modules, through the Creative Writing MA course, to PhD – nonfiction, fiction and screenwriting. At PhD Creative Writing level I supervise students in nonfiction, the novel and playwriting.


Director of the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing.

Working partnerships established with the Forward Arts Foundation, English Pen, Beverley Literary Festival, Humber Mouth Literary Festival, London Review Bookshop, Waterstones, New Writing North. With James Reckitt Trust, Hull Libraries, Book Trust, Hull Royal Infirmary, Z-Arts Manchester, Thomas Ferens Academy: an annual Children’s Writing Event, in which children are trained to host and write responses to a major writer - Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness, David Almond, Emma Thompson. The events draw in hundreds of local children,. Subsequent children’s writing is published through Barbican Press. With the Man Booker Foundation: a whole-university initiative to give a Man Booker prize winning book to every incoming undergraduate then have them meet the author: Julian Barnes, D.B.C.Pierre. The Larkin Centre brings international writers to Hull to speak about their work in public performance spaces. I model the interview mode and help others adopt it. Writers include Hilary Mantel, Edna O’Brien, Christopher Hampton, Alan Johnson, Steven Saylor, Kate Mosse, Benjamin Zephaniah, Irene Sabatini, Daljit Nagra, John Burnside. We develop and promote local writers whose work spins out of these encounters. I was the university’s representative on the original city-wide steering committee for Hull City of Culture 2017, and look forward to the Larkin Centre’s being at the heart of that year-long celebration.

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