Joanna Brown

Joanna Brown


Personal profile

Personal profile

I write from my interest in the interaction between archival research and imaginative writing. My work moves in the spaces between fiction, life writing and history, with a focus on lives and stories from the Black Atlantic. 

Through my Practice-based PhD, The Listening: fictionalising fugitive voices and fragmented narratives in the slavery archive, I am writing a novel voicing lost life stories of Black British and Caribbean women in the long nineteenth century. 

A reflective piece of memoir, Birds can be heard singing through open windows was Highly Commended for the 2020 Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. I am a regular contributor to the Learning programmes at the British Library, where I was recently awarded an Eccles Centre Research Fellowship for my ongoing work on runaway advertisements in early Caribbean newspapers.

In 2016, my interest in Black British Literature led me to initiate the Africa Writes: Young Voices programme for the Africa Writes festival. This educational project provided a platform for Black poets to work directly with students in secondary schools to explore poetry from the African diaspora and develop their own creative responses in spoken word and on the page.

I write for children under the name J.T. Williams. The first book in my historical mystery series, The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger was shortlisted for Foyles Children’s Book of the Year 2022 and the 2023 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.

Research interests

My current research focuses on the ways in which archival research and imaginative writing inform each other, particularly in the telling of Black histories and life stories.

My research interests are drawn from the histories and literatures of the Black Atlantic and include early narratives of enslavement; Caribbean and Black British literature; African American literature; Black modernism and the Harlem Renaissance;  Jazz and blues in fiction; Black women’s life writing, autobiography and autobiographical fiction.


I teach on the modules Supplementary Discourses (EN5114 Term 1) and Reading as a Writer (EN5116 Term 2) on the MA Creative Writing and lead a Fiction workshop in (CW2020 Term 1) and a unit on Fiction within Introduction to Creative Writing (CW1010 Term 2) for undergraduate students.

Education/Academic qualification

Creative Writing, MA, Royal Holloway, University of London

Award Date: 30 Sept 2021

Education, Teacher, UCL Institute of Education

Award Date: 31 Jul 2012

English Literature, BA Hons, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 31 Jul 1994