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Book a free copy of local novel for lockdown leisure


To help support the Humanities sector and independent publishers, and to promote Black Country literature during the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of Wolverhampton and Wild Pressed Books have teamed up to offer readers free copies of R. M. Francis' recent novel, Bella.

The University’s School of Humanities is organising a range of subject podcasts and virtual events, including a Book Club and a Kazuo Ishiguro Masterclass during the crisis.

R. M. Francis is a Lecturer in Creative and Professional Writing at the University, and his book is based on his recently completed PhD in the School of Humanities. 

Bella is a working-class novel that uses folk horror ingredients to explore the haunting qualities of the Black Country's post-industrial communities.

The initiative has been championed by Professor Sebastian Groes who heads up the University’s Centre for Transnational and Transcultural Research. Together with the local poet and author, Professor Groes has organised many events that celebrate Black Country culture, including the Being Human Festival event that conducted research into the region’s smells.

Professor Groes said: "The impact of the COVID-19 crisis can be felt everywhere. The Arts and Humanities in particular are affected, whilst writers and other creatives too are feeling the effects of the pandemic.

“However, we have also seen that people have flocked back to an activity that gives them a sense of escape from this anxious time: reading.  Reading fiction has a beneficial effect on people’s mental health and helps them relax, research has shown.  It’s not a surprise that people have (re-)embraced their passion for literature.   

"We thought using Rob's recent success would be a great way to help people connect with place, home and local community. At the moment, we find support by engaging with people in the region. It's more vital than ever that people have access to fiction, and to give them the opportunity to connect with each other through the Humanities."

The 100 free eBook versions of Bella will be available on a first come, first serve basis from 11 June 2020. To obtain a free copy of Bella, email indicating which format: ePub version for Kobo and iBooks or the mobi version for Kindle.

Phil Scott-Townsend, Director of Wild Pressed Books, said: “As a small independent press, we focus on strong voice and sense of place in the books we publish.

“R. M. Francis’ Bella is a great fit for us as it deals with the effect of landscape and sense of place on identity and community. We are happy to support this initiative as we feel that Bella, told in multiple voices, can be read in similar ways to the tradition of oral and locally-based storytelling.”

This project will also be supported by an online launch in the near future, featuring readings and discussion with R. M. Francis and Kerry Hadley-Pryce, another local writer.

Anyone interested in studying in the School of Humanities should register for the Virtual Open Day on Saturday 13th June 2020 for more information about the range of courses including Creative Writing and English Literature.


For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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