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English literature graduate turns her love of books into an inspirational business

Molly Masters

“I think a lot of people automatically assume you’ll be a teacher, or a journalist or maybe an author when you do an English literature degree – I don’t think many would think you could start your own business – but as a degree it opens up so many doors.”

Molly Masters, 21, who has just graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Sussex has started her own subscription box service with a mission to empower and inspire women and girls through literature.

She says: “There are a lot of women in literature who don’t get the credit they deserve – so Books That Matter aims to shed light on important literature of predominantly female authorship. I really want to shine a light particularly on writers of colour and minority groups who are generally less publicised. Those voices and stories are truly ones that matter and are so important.”

After winning a prestigious £10,000 prize from the Sussex Innovation Centre’s annual enterprise programme, Molly launched her business, which recently featured in The Independent.

“I wanted to create something that gives women and girls a broader access to different types of literature, which feels a bit like a book club. I think there are lots of books women and girls are missing out on – such as those which are not necessary on Waterstones’ shelves, or are thought of as exclusively academic, but that are still really important and carry wonderful messages.”

Molly, who is also the first female winner and the first student not to study business to win the Sussex Innovation Centre prize, met the inspiration for the idea whilst on a placement at Cosmopolitan Magazine. She says: “The editorial team were getting sent all these make-up subscription boxes, and it was my first encounter with the subscription box format, and I thought I’d personally be interested in something similar if it was a box to subscribe to books.”

But it’s the people she’s met during studying for her degree who Molly credits with helping her to explore her career options. She says: “I’ve really loved my degree – I’ve experienced things I never would have before like going on a creative writing course in Berlin.

“As a first generation or working class student sometimes you think those doors and opportunities are closed to you but the team at Sussex First Generation Scholars at the University have been so helpful. They really took an interest in each first generation student and made me feel like I had a chance to flourish. It gave me lots of drive and helped me strive to do more, like speaking at literary colloquiums, and doing my internship at Hearst Media.”

Molly, who is about to move to Bristol says it was the community feel of Sussex which made her chose the University. She says: “It’s the only university I visited which I really felt at home at, it has such an amazing community feel. I’ve loved studying English Literature at Sussex. Everything the University promised came true and I can’t believe I’m about to launch my own business at 21!”

To find out more about Books that Matter or to order your own subscription box please visit Books That Matter.

See other inspiring Sussex students graduating in Summer 2018.

By: Lynsey Ford
Last updated: Friday, 7 September 2018