For me, the one beacon of light in a thoroughly miserable MA was Malcolm Bradbury. I looked forward to his seminars, with him puffing away on his pipe, being funny, and taking a proper interest in his students. With the Creative Writing masters program he co-founded, he was the star of the Literature department. The writer of what became one of the defining novels of the 1970s, The History Man, he was often on television and added a little stardust to the University of East Anglia, a new university up in the wilds of Norfolk. Or, as others called it, the arse-end of nowhere.

Like many young people in the early 1980s, I chose uea precisely because it was modern and a bit experimental. Who wanted stuffy old Oxford when you could have the concrete mini-metropolis of a...


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