Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture.

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture. Life stories capture the relation between the individual and society, the local and the national, the past and present and the public and private experience. Research involves grappling with theories of memory, relationship and self representation, and with debates about literacy and orality. Many disciplines contribute to the field, including history, sociology, anthropology, literary philosophy, cultural studies and psychology. Life history and life writing researchers present their work in many forms. As well as academic publications, we contribute to radio and television documentaries, auto/biographical drama, reminiscence work, digital and video presentations and exhibitions. Life history and life writing research is, of necessity, concerned with ethics and power relationships, and with the potential for advocacy and empowerment.

Our first free event this Autumn:  

Alison Light
Writer, professor, public historian
Writing Common People: Between history and fiction 

Respondent: Professor Ben Highmore

15 October 2015, Fulton Building Room 113, 5-6.30pm

Alison Light poster

Alison Light will talk about her recent book, Common People: the History of an English Family which used her own family history to follow the lives of the migrant, working poor.  A mix of memoir, social history and reflection, the book raises questions about the limits and possibilities of family history as a form of multiple biography; how we write the lives of the unknown, especially in these days of 'poverty porn'; and the boundaries between history, fiction and personal memory. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Modernist Studies.


'The Year of Lewes'

Two Lewes-themed life writing projects in 2015

New Pathways: A Psychogeographical Exploration of Lewes

Walking, writing, filming, drifting .. 

The CLHLWR is preparing a special audio/visual online publication at REFRAME titled 'New Pathways: A psychogeographical Exploration of Lewes'.

  • For more info click HEREPlease note: The deadline has now passed. We are no longer accepting submissions and are in the process of editing the publication.

True Tales from the Old Hill cover

True Tales from the Old Hill 

Stories that are stranger than fiction, by Sussex life writers

The Frogmore Press is preparing to publish a collection of outstanding new life writing, in partnership with the Centre for Life History and Writing Research.

We were looking for stories. The stories had to be true, but there were no restrictions as to subject matter or style. We are interested in stories written by people who live in or around Lewes now, but the stories do not have to be about Lewes; we are interested in anecdotes that reveal the mysterious and unknowable forces at work in our lives. The anthology, comprising more than sixty tales, will be published in October 2015.

Come and join us at this first free event to celebrate this project:

20 October 2015, 5.30 - 6.30 


Rachel Cole & Jeremy Page, with Sally Willow and Katie Leacock

True Tales from the Old Hill: Life writing in question

Language Learning Centre, Arts A, University of Sussex

Sussex Centre for Language Studies Language and Culture Series

Wine served from 5.00All welcome. Free event.

  • For more info click HERE. 


Mailing list

If you would like to join the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research mailing list and receive regular updates about events, conferences and publication opportunities in the field of life history, life writing and oral history, please email: M.Jolly@sussex.ac.uk


The Centre for Life History & Life Writing Research at the University at Sussex explores life narrative as art, history and social practice.

RT @Saschaloske: Stills from short film shot with Peter Messer 'A Walk Through Colour' with Peter Messer. For @CLHLWR and @_REFRAME pic.twitter.com/X7OETfHosY

True stories that sound like fiction - by Lewes life writers. Our project with @FrogmorePress sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/researc… pic.twitter.com/8LT2jUKm5O

RT @CRMNH: The Armenian Tragedy. A Commemorative Symposium. University of Brighton. 29th October 2015 pic.twitter.com/ZJ3onXLqyD

Free event 15 Oct 5pm @SussexUni : Alison Light on writing 'Common People' All welcome sussex.ac.uk/clhlwr/seminar… pic.twitter.com/HfhVW195BJ

15 October @uniofbrighton Hidden Histories of the Great War: Uncovering the Untold Stories of Service and Resistance blogs.brighton.ac.uk/exchange/2015/…

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