School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Bill Herbert

Professor of Poetry & Creative Writing



W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee, and educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he published his DPhil thesis (To Circumjack MacDiarmid, OUP, 1992). He has published seven volumes of poetry and four pamphlets, and he is widely anthologised. He has published broadly in the field of Creative Writing, and is a regular reviewer of contemporary poetry.

His last six collections, with Bloodaxe Books, have won numerous accolades. He has been shortlisted twice for the T.S. Eliot prize and twice for the Saltire. He has gained four Poetry Book Society Recommendations, and won three Scottish Arts Council Awards.

In 2013 he was appointed Dundee's Makar, or city laureate. In 2014 he was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for his poetry, and an honorary doctorate from Dundee University. In 2015 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


After holding writer's residencies in Dumfires and Galloway and in Morayshire, Bill Herbert moved to Newcastle in 1994 to take up the Northern Arts Literary Fellowship. Subsequently he held residencies with Cumbria Arts in Education and the Wordsworth Trust.

He has engaged in numerous public art and cross-media projects in the North-East, making a film in Berwick, originating sculptures in Ambleside and Dumfries, and writing a poem for a strip of stainless steel to be set into the pavement in Graingertown. He is the poetry consultant for the Westpark project, originating text and co-ordinating artworks across this development in Darlington, one of the largest public art projects in the North East. On campus, working with Colin Hagan, he produced the piece Pentad outside the Robinson Library, and conceived of and curated the  text gallery LIT, projected on the wall of Percy Building.

In 2000 he edited the bestselling anthology Strong Words: modern poets on modern poetry with Matthew Hollis. He also edited the interactive CD-ROM Book of the North (NWN, 2000), featuring prominent writers and artists from the region. Together with the Chinese poet Yang Lian, he has edited two book of translations from Chinese, Jade Ladder (Bloodaxe, 2012), and The Third Shore (Shearsman, 2013)

Roles and Responsibilities

Head of Creative Writing section

Previous Positions

Lecturer in the Department of Creative Writing at Lancaster University (1996-2002).


Research Interests

Creative Writing theory and practice; contemporary British poetry, especially Scottish poetry, focussing on Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Morgan; poetry in translation.

Other Expertise

Text and Public Art; poetry in collaboration with other artforms, including music.


Undergraduate teaching

Bill Herbert is Module leader for SEL1000 Creative Writing; SEL2216 Poetry, Prose and Script Workshop, and SEL3333 File of Original Literary Work.

Postgraduate teaching

Teaches on SEL8641 Introduction to the Craft of Writing, SEL8506 Writing Workshop: Poetry, and Sel8515 The Longer Poem and the Sequence, as well as supervising on SEL8321 Portfolio/Dissertation.

He also teaches on the Writing Poetry MA (SEL8402 Poetry Workshop 1, and SEL8520 Poetry Workshop 2) 

Postgraduate research supervision

Bill Herbert has supervised ten students to successful completion, including Creative Writing, and Literature students (the latter including the poets and academics Tara Bergin and Paul Batchelor). Several of his students have won AHRC funding to support their studies (including the poets and tutors Anna Woodford and Christy Ducker).

He currently has seven PhD students, three of whom are AHRC supported, and two further students in the process of being examined.