Students to learn from best-selling author

6 October 2014

Stephanie Johnson

Best-selling author: Stephanie Johnson will be teaching an historical fiction course at the University of Waikato this November.

History students and creative writing students at the University of Waikato will learn from the best with best-selling author Stephanie Johnson as their teacher.

The New Zealand writer, whose most recent historical novel The Open World (2012) was a best-seller, will teach ‘Writing Historical Fiction’, a course being offered by Waikato’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences this November.

Known also for her poetry, plays and short stories, Johnson has taught writing courses for various institutions including the University of Auckland, AUT, Unitec, and now Waikato.

Historical fiction

The course offers an introduction to the much-loved genre of historical fiction and employs the methodology of historical research, considering the challenges of integrating ‘fact’ with ‘fiction’ (and vice versa), she says.

“I’m really looking forward to teaching at Waikato and taking students through this unique writing journey.”

An impressive career

Johnson has published eight novels, three of them historical. She is a past winner of the Montana Book Award (for The Shag Incident), the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in Menton and the Bruce Mason Memorial Playwright’s Award.

She also held the University of Auckland writers’ residency and several of her novels have been long-listed for the Impac Awards in Dublin. With Peter Wells, Stephanie founded the highly successful Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in 1998.

Writing Historical Fiction is a level two course which examines how historical research relates to and can work profitably with the creative imagination. It will cover narrative and style and the contexts in which historical fiction is written. It will also offer the opportunity for students to develop historical research skills and how these skills can be practically applied, and a discussion of the publishing industry.

Study over the summer

The course is being offered as part of the University of Waikato’s Summer School T Semester which runs from Monday 10 November to Friday 19 December. For more information, visit

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