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Graduate’s debut novel explores Black Country roots


A former student from the University of Wolverhampton is delving into Black Country roots in his new book which is due to be published at the beginning of March.

Rob Francis, who lives in Dudley, completed his PhD in Creative Writing in the School of Humanities and now teaches Creative and Professional Writing at the University.

His debut novel, Bella, will be published by Wild Pressed Books on 6th March 2020 and an official book launch will take place at the Tilstone Studio in the University’s Arena Theatre on Thursday 17th March at 7.00 pm.

Rob said:  “My novel was written as part of my recently completed PhD.  Without the support, time and resources of the University and its incredible academics this publication would remain a dream; I doubt I'd have had the nerve or ability to pull it off without Wolves.

“The novel is a folk horror story set in Netherton and Dudley loosely based around the Bella and the Wych Elm mystery. One of the really exciting things about the Bella mystery is how it's part true crime and part urban folk tale.

“My version is about a spectre who has haunted Netherton for generations. Everyone has a theory, no one has an answer. The woods that frame the housing estates uncover a series of ghostly and heinous acts, drawing onlookers in to a space of clandestine, off-kilter sexuality: a liminal space of abject and uncanny experience.

“Here, a question echoes in the odd borderlands of being, of fear-fascination, attraction-repulsion, of sex and death. But most of all, it’s my love song to the Black Country.”

Rob has written five poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus' Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018), Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019) and Fieldnotes from a Deep Topography of Dudley (Wild Pressed Books). 

Anyone wanting to attend the book launch should book FREE tickets here.


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