Dr Alex Howard

Thesis title: The Place of the Poet: An Examination of the Evocation of Space and Place in the Oeuvre of Philip Larkin


Alex undertook and passed his PhD viva examination on 4th September 2018.

As well as presenting on his research topic, Alex has undertaken several other roles for the English Literature department. In 2014 he was Research Assistant for AHRC-funded impact project "Writing the North", and is fiction reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He has presented his research at the Work in Progress seminars (‘The Author’s Place’: Disengaging Genius Loci from Verisimilitude in Larkin’s ‘Night-Music’), and is currently teaching 2nd year Pre-Honours students.

Alex is also an author, poet and screenwriter. His debut novel "Library Cat" was published in 2016 (Black & White Publishing) and has since gone on to become an international bestseller, with rights sold to Korea (Woongjin), France (Bragelonne) and Italy (Woongjin). It reached the Finalist category of the People's Book Prize, and in 2017 won the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author. Alex's poetry has been published widely in journals such as The London Magazine, Cannon Poets Quarterly, Cadaverine, Aesthetica and Gutter. It has won, or been shortlisted for, several prizes, including the Red Cross International Writing Prize (Winner, 2011); the Jane Martin Poetry Prize (Shortlisted, 2014); and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Prize (Finalist, 2012).

Alex currently teaches EL1 and EL2 pre-honours students.

Undergraduate teaching

English Literature 1 (Semester 2): ‘Literature and the Literary: c. 1300-1700'

English Literature 2 (Semester 1): Eighteenth Century to High Victorian

English Literature 2 (Semester 2): High Victorian to Post-war Modernism

Research summary

Alex's research focuses on the novels and poetry of Philip Larkin, centring principally on the ways in which place is used to freight meaning and call into question aspects of selfhood, nationality, psychology and reader-response. He is also interested in self-consciously ‘provincial’ poetry of the last 50 years, its audiences, poets’ cognizance with the quotidian, ‘everyday’ spaces, and the sense of ‘Neo-Englishness’ that emerges in such poetry from the 1940s onwards. Much of his research on place has forced him to confront the symbolic heritage of place in poetry and prose, starting from the 18th century onwards. Therefore, Alex has developed side-interests in country house poetry, evocations of topophilia and genius loci, and 19th century verse and prose in general.  

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In the press

Alex has been invited to perform his creative work at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (UNESCO Story Shop, 2012), and the Hidden Door Festival (Interrobang, 2017).  

Publications (Creative)


  • Library Cat: The Observations of a Thinking Cat 
    • (B&W, 2016) Hardback [ISBN: 9781785300165] 
    • (Garzanti, 2017) Hardback [ISBN: 978-8811672678]; Paperback [ISBN: 978-8811602330]
    • (Woongjin, 2017) Paperback [ISBN: 978-8901215891]
    • (Bragelonne, 2018) Paperback [ISBN: 978-2811235550]
  • Gutter '17 [ISBN: 978-1-999914509]
  • Gutter '09 [ISBN: 978-1-908754295] 
  • Aesthetica (2012) [ISSN: 2048-8777] 
  • The London Magazine (2011) [ISSN: 0024-6085] 
  • The Cannon's Mouth (2011) [ISSN: 1745-6630]

Publications (Academic)

  • A “Modern” Flâneur: Larkin’s Journeys and the Emergence of “Elsewhere.” IJSELL. (ISSN: 2347-3126; DOI: 10.20431) (Published)


Scholarships & Grants

  • AHRC Scholarship, Full/Stipendiary (Taken up, 2013-2017) 
  • UoE HSS College Scholarship, Full  (Offered)
  • AHRC Research Grant (Larkin Archives, Hull Feb 2016) 

Literary Awards

  • Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2017 (Winner)
  • Melita Hume Poetry Prize (Currently Shortlisted)
  • Red Cross International Writing Prize (Winner)
  • IdeasTap Editor's Brief (Winner)
  • Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition (Finalist)
  • Girton College, Cambridge [James Martin Poetry Prize]  (Shortlisted)
  • People's Book Prize (Finalist - results June 2017)