Dr Cath Nichols

Dr Cath Nichols, Tutor in Creative Writing
Email Dr Cath Nichols via: c.s.nichols@leeds.ac.uk

Areas of expertise

Creative writing, poetry, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, disability representation, queer representation, inclusion and diversity. 

Cath Nichols

My role

I have a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and specialise in poetry, radio drama and children’s fiction. My research interests include representations of ‘the other’ in literature, especially disabled and/or queer characters in children’s fiction and poetry.
I grew up in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the UK. I gained a Visual Arts degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Youth and Community Work. I volunteered with the local Rape Crisis centre, then worked in mental health in Manchester before moving into radio and print journalism, hosting BBC GMR’s Gaytalk in the Nineties and editing Queer Soul.

I worked for Liverpool’s Dead Good Poets Society running performance and writing events from 2002-2006. I left to take an MA at Lancaster University and then a PhD, which I completed in 2011.

I have taught at four universities in the North West since 2010. At Leeds, I teach the modules Creative Writing Level 1 and Writing for Children and Young Adults.

I live with chronic illness and use a wheelchair when outside. I am queer/bi and autistic. I find these things inform my work as I don't always see things in the same way as the majority. This doesn't just affect subject matter but also language choices and metaphors. I'm happy being odd!

Published work 

I worked for Liverpool’s Dead Good Poets Society running performance and writing events from 2002-2006. I left to take an MA then PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University (completed 2011).  

At Leeds I teach Creative Writing Level 1 and Writing for Children and Young Adults. I used to teach Writing Script. I have taught at four universities in the north-west since 2010. 

My poetry pamphlet, Tales of Boy Nancy (Driftwood, 2005), was made into a short film.

This was followed by my debut collection My Glamorous Assistant (Headland, 2007) and a second pamphlet, Distance (erbacce, 2012).

My mermaid-ghost play The Price of Legs (2010) was staged in Nottingham having won an open competition. Other short plays of mine have been performed in Manchester.

This Is Not a Stunt (Valley Press, 2017), my most recent poetry collection exploring trans* experience and disability, was described as ‘ground-breaking’ by Stride.

That's Amazing, Mum, a picture book for 7-8 year olds, was published by the University in April 2022 and given out free to schools, libraries and foodbanks in Leeds. This was a collaboration with materials scientists and the Public Engagement Team at Leeds (Andy Guy illustrated).

I was added to the OUP primary books writers' roster in August 2022.


Short-listed for the Frances Lincoln Award (for Diversity in Children's Fiction) 2013. 

Commended in the Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Awards, 2018. 

Short-listed for the Penguin Randhomhouse Write Now scheme for children's writers in 2021.

Essays and chapters

  • ‘Frailer than My Wildest Dreams’, life-writing for The Real Story commissioned for the Not Quite Light Festival, 2019

  • ‘Fishlegs’ Journey: Acknowledged and Unacknowledged Stigma in the How to Train Your Dragon Book Series’ in the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, children’s literature issue, 2018  

  • ‘Poetry and Disability’ for Poetry Wales, Summer 2016 

  • Chapter: ‘Intersections between Disability and Trans: a Poetics’ in Reflections on Female and Trans* Masculinities (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016)  

  • lead cover feature on disability, literature and creative writing in Mslexia magazine, Spring 2015 issue. Reproduced in feminist magazine Bitch (USA) 

  • ‘The Odd Couple: Trans Characters and Disabled Buddies in Two Works of Fiction’ in Considering Disability Journal, issue 1, 201 

  • Chapter: ‘Creative Writing and Disability Studies: a Practical Approach to Theory’, in Avoidance in the Academy (Routledge, 2015)