Award-winning writer joins St Andrews staff

Monday 25 November 2002

*Pic caption – A L Kennedy at St Andrew statue, St Andrews. Credit – Alan Richardson*

Celebrated writer A L Kennedy joins the School of English at the University of St Andrews this month.

Kennedy, winner of numerous awards including the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Somerset Maugham Prize for her powerful novels and short stories, will be teaching creative writing this Autumn to undergraduate and graduate students.

“We count ourselves very lucky to have A L Kennedy as one of our lecturers”, said Robert Crawford, Head of the School of English. “She is passionately committed to the craft of writing, and completely unafraid to speak her mind. I know the students will benefit from her directness and her enthusiasm for helping others fulfil their creative potential.”

One of Kennedy’s first jobs was as Writer in Residence at Hamilton and East Kilbride Social Work Department where she gained a Social Work Today Award. She has also been a dedicated editor of New Writing and New Scottish Writing, fostering indigenous creative talent.

Asked for a few lines on St Andrew, to mark the start of her appointment a week before St Andrew’s Day, Kennedy writes:

“You’ll see him in triptychs sometimes, altar pieces – always on the viewer’s left, the photographically dominant position, always holding his cross, his proof of being very much holier than thou. There he is, St Andrew, a man alleged to have demanded a new type of crucifixion in a display combining perverse devotion to his beliefs with almost blasphemous spiritual one- upmanship. And these traits perhaps explain why Andrew is not only the patron saint of Rumania, Greece and Russia (all countries he may have visited or preached within) but also that of Scotland – a land he only reached post mortem, in small sections. The all- important instrument of his death forms our flag – a token of ingenious sacrifice and self- immolating pride.”

“Of course, our saint does not enjoy the prominence he once had, we no longer celebrate his day by feasting on singed sheep’s heads and carousing and our heroes are often less terrible and less great. Many of us may not even know that our flag supposedly represents the miraculous manifestation of his cross against a blue sky on the eve of battle against the Angles – who were apparently not Angels on that occasion¿But I would still argue that Andrew has something positive to offer modern Scotland. Scots can seem to inhabit a cultural landscape devoid of uplifting landmarks. Needless to say Scots have historically proved to be quite capable of producing social change, art, moral frameworks, technical innovation and small outbreaks of happiness without official sanction – but how much better might we flourish, if we were to take our saint a little more seriously?”

A L Kennedy’s most recent book of short stories, Indelible Acts, was published by Jonathan Cape in October. She has also had success as a playwright and screenwriter, and is currently working on an animatronic film for children. The whole of her controversial personal statement on St Andrew can be read on her website at


NOTE TO EDITORS – Photographs of A L Kennedy at the statue of St Andrew in St Andrews available from Alan Richardson on telephone 01382 828234 or 07831 413 094.

A L Kennedy available MONDAY MORNING ONLY – telephone 0141 339 1975.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact: Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st- View University press releases on- line at Ref: alk/standrews/chg/25nov2002

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