An Edge Hill creative writing expert recently became the first writer in residence on a floating library, helping to give the gift of literature to people on its journey around the UK’s canals.

The Furor Scribendi is a fully functioning sculptural narrowboat housing a floating library of short stories and acting a retreat for writers and readers.

The narrowboat is currently in Coventry for their City of Culture celebrations but began its journey in the North West with Edge Hill Creative Writing Lecturer Sarah Schofield as writer in residence.

Sarah said: “It was a real honour to be part of this project. Both the boat and the natural surroundings of the waterways were so peaceful and inspiring. As a time-poor writer, it was also lovely to have some time dedicated to writing, so separate to normal everyday life, giving me time and space to finish my new book and informing my research into writing practice.”

Sarah traversed Lancashire’s canals, meeting local people, reading books from the boat’s extensive short story library and using the peace, quiet and natural surroundings to inspire her writing.

Describing the experience in her diary, she said: “The Furor Scribendi is madly beautiful, distractingly beautiful, it’s an echo chamber, it’s a busy silence. I am overwhelmed by the amazing collection of books on the boat, by the over stimulating presence of the books by the light and sound.  The very act of being on the boat feels performative and interactive.”

Some of Sarah’s work from her time on the boat will feature in her new book, Safely Gathered In which is her debut collection of short stories. It features a number of stories published in previous anthologies as well as brand new, unseen stories. 

The narrowboat is continuing its voyage around the UK after being launched in Rishton, travelling along the Leeds-Liverpool canal and waterways of Lancashire, Manchester, Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent, before spending the summer in Coventry. It is part of a project called Small Bells Ring created by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison.

The boat visits set locations each month and allows visitors to read books on the boat similar to a regular library. Visitors can also browse or read on board as the library moves between stops.

With strong connections to Accrington Library and Coventry Central Library, the boats creators have been working closely with the librarians in both locations to build the UK’s first public library of short stories.

Funded by Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and British Council, the project has been co-commissioned by Super Slow Way and Coventry City of Culture Trust, in collaboration with Lancashire and Coventry Library Services and their communities.

If you’re interested in studying Creative Writing at Edge Hill, you will learn from a world-class community of writers and gain insights into publishing, broadcasting and professional production on a degree brought to life by guest writers, visiting professionals, readings and workshops. Visit the website to find out more about Creative Writing courses