Carl Tighe

Carl Tighe (born 26 April 1950 - May 8, 2020) was a prolific British writer, academic, essayist, novelist, and poet.

Carl Tighe
Born(1950-04-26)26 April 1950
Handsworth, Birmingham, England
DiedMay 8, 2020(2020-05-08) (aged 70)
OccupationPoet, essayist, novelist, and professor
Alma materUniversity of Wales, Swansea
Notable worksBurning Worm (2001) Shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Awards
Notable awardsAuthors' Club First Novel Award


Carl Tighe was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, his father had emigrated from Ireland just before World War II and his mother was English.[1]

He started writing poems and short stories as a teenager, and had some published in Ambit magazine; an influence was J G Ballard and this led to him applying to study English Literature at Swansea University where he graduated in 1973. On graduation, he found it difficult to gain permanent employment held a variety of low-paid jobs, including gutting and cleaning fish, working as a Red Coat at Butlin's and lavatory attendant at a mental hospital to get him by. During this time he got an offer to teach English in Poland and went to Wrocław and Gdańsk for two years, taking the train through West and East Germany. He returned to Poland during 1980-81, where he taught at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and helped monitor foreign radio for Solidarność. Upon returning from Poland, he moved to Cardiff and started freelance writing. He wrote plays for community theater, articles for magazines, and history books on Gdansk to earn a living. He left Wales in 1988 to teach for the extramural department at Manchester University.[2][3]

Tighe also worked as a language teacher, teaching Japanese Students amongst others, and as a script-reader for the BBC.

He gained his PhD in 1994 which analysed the responses of Polish literature under and toward Communism. The thesis was partly examined by Norman Davies.

He eventually became a lecturer (in 1998), at Derby University where in 2000 he led the first Creative Writing undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom and in 2004 became the first Professor of Creative Writing in the UK.[4][5]

During his career Tighe carried out research into writing in Poland, where he lived for three years, America, and Hungary and presented at conferences as far afield as Italy, Poland, Wales and Turkey.

Tighe's particular research interests focus upon Central European literature, culture, politics and history. Subjects have been as diverse as; Gunter Grass, Franz Six, Bret Easton Ellis, Heinrich Boll and Stanislav Lem and he has been published frequently in the Journal of European Studies.

A favourite retreat of Tighe's was Rhodes.

Tighe died on May 8 2020 from the coronavirus disease 2019.[6]

Writing careerEdit

By the late 1990s he had written numerous plays and books. He had written for BBC Radio 4, Ambit, and many of his essays had appeared in the Journal of European Studies. His first book of short stories “Rejoice” was shortlisted for the Irish Times fiction award and he won the All-London Drama Award, 1988 for his stage play “A Whisper in the Wind.[7][8]

Though he had been writing for sometime publishing a novel eluded him. After sending his novel, based on his time in Poland, to countless publishers and getting continuous rejections Tighe did not think his novel would ever hit the shelves. He had almost lost hope but then a small independent press published the novel which went on to earn nominations and awards. The novel, “Burning Worm,” was shortlisted for Whitbread Award, 2002 and won Authors’ Club Award, 2002.[9][10]


Carl TIghe has had several awards and nominations for his writing

  • · A Whisper in the Wind, All-London Drama Award, 1988
  • · Gdansk Nominated for the Silver PEN Award, 1991
  • · Rejoice! Nominated for the David Higham Award, 1992
  • · Rejoice! Shortlisted for The Irish Times Fiction Prize, November 1993
  • · Pax: Variations, Winner of City Life Writer of the Year 2000 Award
  • · Burning Worm Short-listed for Whitbread Award, 2002
  • · Burning Worm Winner of Authors’ Club Award, 2002



· Burning Worm (Impress 2001)

· KssssS: a Tale of Sex, Money & Alien Invasion (IMPress 2004)

· Druids Hill (Five Leaves 2008)

Short Story CollectionsEdit

· Rejoice! And Other Stories (Jonathan Cape 1992)

· Pax: Variations (IMPress 2000)

Academic BooksEdit

· Gdańsk: National Identity in the Polish German Borderlands (Pluto, 1989)

· The Politics of Literature: Polish Writers and Communism 1945-89 (University of Wales Press, 1999)

· Writing and Responsibility (Routledge, 2005)

· Writing the World: Writing as a Subject of Study (Kingston University Press, 2014)

Teaching BooksEdit

· Creative and Professional Writing @ University: Frequently Asked Questions (IMPress, 2015)

Short FictionEdit

‘Day Out’ Element 5, no.3, 1983

‘The Bird House’ Spectrum, June 1983

‘The Colour of Your Money’ Iron, no.46, June 1985

‘A Happy Story’ Frames, no.4, 1985

‘Rejoice’ Planet, June 1985

‘A State of Mind’ Planet, August 1987

‘Andzrej D: Polish Poet’ Poetry Wales, spring 1988

‘And Now This’ Ambit, no.113, August 1988

‘And Now This’ 20/20, August 1989

‘Bug Out’ Ambit: Irish Edition, no.115, February 1989

‘Bug Out’ Blueprint, August 1989

‘Interviews after Midnight’ Margins, no.10, April, 1990

‘And Now This’ Passport, no.3, 1991

‘En Nu Dit’ De Tweede Ronde, Spring 1991

‘Underground’ New Hungarian Quarterly, no.124, winter 1991

‘Medhbh’ Literary Review, February 1992

‘Reservations’ Metropolitan, winter 1993

‘Snowman’ Metropolitan, winter 1994

‘A State of Mind’ The Big Issue in the North, 19–25 August 1996

‘Visa’ Metropolitan, spring 1997

‘Hartland’ Ambit, no.149, July 1997

‘Al Haqq’ Ambit, no.151, February 1998

‘Driving Der Führer’ De Tweede Ronde, August 1998

‘Visiting Auntie’ Ambit, no.158, November 1999

‘Visiting Auntie’ November 1999

‘Visiting Auntie’ Heads Exhibition Derby Museum & Art Gallery 15–27 January 2000

‘Rejoice!’ (German trans), Erkundungen: 28 Walisische Erzahler, Berlin, 1989

‘And Now This’, Best Short Stories of 1989, G. Gordon & D. Hughes (eds.), 1990

‘And Now This’, Minerva Short Stories 2, G. Gordon & D. Hughes (eds.), 1991

‘Medhbh’, Six Irish Writers, M. McKernon (ed.), Cape, 1992.

‘Trumpet of Victory’, Telling Stories 3, D. Minshull (ed.), BBC publications, 1994

‘Virtporn’, Waterstone’s Alien Landings, August 1997

‘Reservations’, The Best Short Stories of 1994, G. Gordon & D. Hughes (eds.), 1994

‘KssssS’ (selection from novel) Ambit, no.167, January 2002

‘Visiting Auntie’, Manchester Stories 3, R. Page (ed.), City Life 2002

‘No Breakfast’, September 2002

‘Living in the Irish Sea’, The Quiet Quarter anthology of New Irish Writing, RTE/New Island (Dublin), 2004

‘Living in the Irish Sea’, short story, The Quiet Quarter: Ten Years of Great Irish Writing, RTE/Lyric fm/New Island (Dublin)

‘Best Man’, The Warwick Review, March 2010

‘Neighbours and Strangers’, Ambit no 200, spring 2010

‘Six Memories’, The Warwick Review, June 2012

‘Two Nuns’, Istanbul Review: The Screen of Literature (Istanbul) March 2013

‘Early Days’, Ambit no 213, August 2013


‘Five Poems’, Element 5, 1982

‘Four Poems’, Frames, 3, 1985

’Three Poems’, Iron 42, February 1984

‘Black Man, White Man’, Poets against Apartheid, Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement

‘Black Man, White Man’, Poetry Street 2, D. Orme & J. Sale (eds.), 1990,

‘Black Man, White Man’, English GC4 Workbook, Berlin 1995

‘Two Poems’, The Affectionate Punch 2, November 1995

‘Crazy Eddie and the Teaching Machine’, Citi-Zine (Derby) June 2010

‘Seven poems’, Ambit no 203, February 2011

‘Fourteen Poems’, The Swansea Review Spring 2012:

‘Joyspring’, 80 Words for Martin Bax, Ambit Press, August 2013

Stage PlaysEdit

The Walking Upright Show, (joint author) Studio Group 1974

Work in Progress, a radio play, published in Prospect 1, 1974

Little Dogs, with music by Lydia Aylot, Gdansk, 1976

The ‘A’ Card, Open Cast Theatre, commissioned and produced, 1977

Effie’s Folly or Ignorance Rewarded, Open Cast Theatre, 1979

Fair Play, co-devised and scripted, Open Cast Theatre, 1979

Jewels, reading by Studio Group, 1979; reading by PoW! 1985; reading by Tabard Theatre, 1986

The Prince and the Dragon, reading by Made in Wales, 1983

How to be a Lady: v.1 and v.2, co-scripted, Chwarae Teg, 1981–82

The Big Break, Action PIE, commissioned and produced 1982

The Hammer and the Anvil, reading by PoW! 1984; reading by Tabard, 1985

Comic Cabaret Sketches, 24 Hour Speaking Programme, 1984-5

A Whisper in the Wind, winner of the All-London Drama Prize, 1987

Rejoice! Commissioned by WOT Theatre, Cardiff 1989; Soho Theatre, workshop, April 1997

KssssS, stage-play version of the novel, commissioned by Contact Theatre with development finance from the BBC and North West Arts Board, spring 2003

Radio ScriptsEdit

Little Jack Horner, BBC Wales / Raidió Teilifís Éireann Dublin, 1985

Baku! Commissioned and devised for BBC Wales, 1986

‘The Bird House’, BBC Wales, Morning Story, 11 April 1989

‘The Trumpet of Victory’, BBC Radio 4, Afternoon Story, 19 July 1993

‘Day Out’, BBC Radio 4, Afternoon Story, 31 August 1994

‘Andrzej, Polish Poet’, BBC Radio 4, Afternoon Story, 6 December 1995

‘April Fool’, BBC Radio 4, Afternoon Story, 1 April 1996

‘Lucy’, BBC Radio 4, Afternoon Story, 9 September 1996

‘Radio Regen Tall Tales: Burning Worm’, Radio Regen, 13 August 2000

‘One’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 24 June 2002

‘Two’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 25 June 2002

‘Three’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 26 June 2002

‘Four’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 27 June 2002

‘Five’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 28 June 2002

‘Mothers’ BBC Radio 4, Off the Page, 6 Sept 2002

‘Naggety-Nag’ Lyric fm, The Quiet Quarter, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 24 December 2002

Edited WorksEdit

· The Playwrights’ Register (Yr Academi Gymreig, 1984)

Literary BodiesEdit

. Member of PEN.


  1. ^ "Worming its way into our affections". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  2. ^ Crace, John (2001-11-27). "Prized obsession". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  3. ^ "Carl Tighe". Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  4. ^ "Writing the World: Writing as a Subject of Study - Kingston University Press - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Kingston University London". Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  5. ^ News, Manchester Evening (2007-02-17). "Author's Worm hooks judges". men. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  6. ^ Abbit, Beth (2020-05-21). "Acclaimed Manchester author Carl Tighe dies after a battle with Covid-19". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  7. ^ "Carl Tighe". Sage Journals. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  8. ^ "Carl Tighe :: National Association of Writers in Education". Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  9. ^ News, Manchester Evening (2005-04-30). "Carl scoops best book honour". men. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  10. ^ "Worming its way into our affections". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-02-01.

External linksEdit