A picture of Dr Kerri Andrews walking in snowy mountains.
Dr Kerri Andrews out on a walk

An Edge Hill University academic has been awarded a prestigious British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to support her research into the little-known correspondence of famous Scottish writer and hill-walker Nan Shepherd.

Dr Kerri Andrews, Reader in Women’s Literature and Textual Editing, has been awarded more than £116,000 by the British Academy for her project Nan Shepherd’s Correspondence, 1920-80. The project looks at 250 previously unpublished letters by and to Nan Shepherd, who came to fame as a novelist and poet in the ‘Scottish Renaissance’.

Nan Shepherd is famous for writing about her love of nature, walking and her experiences of rural Scottish life in the early 20th Century. The popularity and importance of her work is felt most keenly in Scotland and in recent years become the face of the RBS £5 note.

A picture of Nan Shephard
Writer Nan Shepherd © University of Aberdeen

Talking about her research fellowship Dr Andrews said:

“‘Nan Shepherd’s correspondence is a treasure trove of insights into her writing process, her friendships and literary connections, and her involvement in the development and promotion of Scottish writing over a number of decades. I’m delighted to be awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship by the British Academy, which will enable me to bring this correspondence to the wider audience it deserves.’

The letters detail the most significant moments in Shepherd’s career, including her correspondence with other famous literary figures such as Neil Gunn, Helen Cruickshank, Agnes Mure Mackenzie and Jessie Kesson. They also document Shepherd’s later roles as an editor, reviewer, and teacher, roles in which she exercised significant cultural influence.

Dr Andrews will make available all 250 surviving letters in a book to be published by Edinburgh University Press on 14th September, alongside undertaking an imaginative programme of public talks, walks and performances that explore Shepherd’s considerable cultural legacy. She has already appeared on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour discussing her research and book.

Nan Shepherd’s letters will also feature in Dr Andrews’ new book Wanderers: A History of Women Walking, which is being published by Reaktion Books. The book chronicles the lives of ten women from the last 300 years for whom walking was an essential part of their creativity, informing their writing and sense of self.

A picture of Dr Kerri Andrews climbing up some rocks.
Dr Kerri Andrews climbing up rocks

Explaining more about her new book Dr Andrews said: “Women’s stories about walking – indeed the fact that they walked at all – have been ignored for far too long. Women sometimes experienced walking differently to men, and typically experienced different social pressures, but walking has been, and remains, as important to women as it does to men. My book aims to bring women’s stories to the fore, and to demonstrate that there is a long and rich history of women writing about the power and meaning of walking to them as authors, and as human beings.’

Dr Andrews has a keen interest in eighteenth-century and early Romantic-era literature, as well as broader research interests in women’s writing, print culture and textual editing. A key part of her work is a determination to bring to the fore the writing of women who have been ignored or neglected in accounts of literary history.

Edge Hill University offers a variety of courses in English including BA (Hons) English LiteratureBA (Hons) Education and English and BA (Hons) Creative Writing and English Literature.

The British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship is aimed at supporting researchers and academics with exceptional research proposals that demonstrate a sustained commitment to engaging the public. Being awarded a fellowship allows freedom from other commitments so that proper time can be given to research, writing and public engagement. To find out more visit https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/funding/.