Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar is a writer and lecturer in Creative Writing. She initiated and co-wrote the two successful Undergraduate Creative Writing Modules in collaboration with the Literature and American Studies Department. Her debut novel, Dark Mermaids, shortlisted for the 2011 Impress Prize, will be published in September, 2015.
“I was born in South Africa to parents who lived and worked in Rudolf Steiner Communities. Academia was simply not part of their language,” she says. “I left home aged fourteen, so University was simply not on my horizon.”
At twenty, she was a single parent with no qualifications. “I loved reading,” she says. “I decided to see if I could write and enrolled at my local college. One year later I had a GCSE in Literature, an A grade! I couldn’t believe it. I had never dared to think beyond the basics, getting food on the table for my daughters was the beginning and end of the day.”
Searching through her local library one day she picked up The Element of Water, by Stevie Davies, Prof of Creative Writing. “It was as if the language leapt up and grabbed me. Imagine my shock when Stevie’s name came up as the Director on a Creative Writing Programme.” Anne thought about applying for a year, certain she wasn’t good enough.
“Then I lost my job,” she says. “In all that despair I began to write, and then, finally, I applied. Stevie is certainly an inspiration. I would also say my wonderful German aunt inspires. She survived the war, and stayed to care for her mother and salvage the remains of a dynasty that was lost through the GDR time. Her quiet resolute strength speaks to me, reminding me to place one foot in front of the other, and not always strive toward grandeur and glory. In the end it is love and kindness that really matter.”
Anne says, “To be accepted to study for an MA, then a PhD, came as a total surprise. The day I received my PhD was a mixture of utter disbelief, then overwhelming painful joy. I love lecturing at University. I work with amazing people who enjoy pushing the boundaries of thought and imagination. For me, being at Swansea is akin to discovering an island I had always dreamed about and, best of all, being invited to stay."