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Dr Joanne Reardon

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Professional biography

I am a novelist with interests in ekphrastic practice arising from my collaborative work with visual artists on site specific projects in museums and art galleries.  I joined the OU as an Associate Lecturer in 2006 having worked at Lancaster University and Edge Hill University where I was a Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing.  I have an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and a PhD from Lancaster University and was awarded Fellowship status by the Higher Education Authority in 2016. I also have an MBA from Aston University.

My collaborative ekphrastic work with artists includes work on the short story with Richard Kenton Webb at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester and with Iain Andrews at Warrington Art Gallery. My most recent collaboration is with Natalie Sirett at Burgh House Museum in Hampstead. 

Before going into teaching, I was Literary Manager of the Bush Theatre in London and then Literary Associate at the National Theatre in London throughout the 1990’s.  From 2000 I was a freelance Readings Producer in BBC Radio Drama working on the flagship new writing series Opening Lines and producing several series of classical crime fiction for BBC Radio4extra.


Research interests

I am a novelist with research interests around ekphrasis and site specific projects working with art and music to create a conversation between art and fiction and the dialogic process which takes place between them. 

My first novel, a crime novel, set on the Northwest coast of England, The Weight of Bones (2017), was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Award and described as ‘…a tangled and beautifully textured tale of murder, fires, deceit, blame and guilt’. I have short fiction published in The London Magazine and the UEA anthology Mafia amongst others and in 2014 I was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Short Story Prize for Mr H’s Angels’based on the composer Handel’s connection with the Foundling Hospital in London, appearing in the anthology ‘Patria & Other Stories’ (2015). 

Ekphrastic collaborations include: William Cowper's Summer House (2020) an exhibit in Romantic Europe: the virtual exhibition ; in 2019 I contributed to Medusa and her Sisters a collaboration working with images and sonnets with Natalie Sirett, exhibited at Burgh House Museum, Hampstead and published in 2020. Earlier collaborations have included: My Mind’s Eye (2012), a short story based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale 'The Wild Swans' exhibited alongside the work of Iain Andrews at the Warrington Museum & Art Gallery; Still Life with Blackbirds (2014), a collaboration with Richard Kenton Webb was exhibited at Corinium Museum, Cirencester and published by Artists’ Choice Editions in 2017. The Still Life with Black Birds collaboration was explored in a paper published in Writing in Practice (2020) in

I have a long standing connection with audio drama having started my writing career as radio dramatist with plays and adaptations produced on BBC Radio 4 and repeated now on BBC Radio 4extra. A short ‘found’ play ‘Tweet’ was performed by the theatre company Uncommon Nonsense at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2014.

My creative practice is complemented with professional expertise having worked as a Producer at BBC Radio Drama in Readings for nine years and as Literary Manager at the Bush Theatre and at the National Theatre for five years where my focus was on working with and developing new writers.

​Selected fiction:

The Weight of Bones’(2020), novel, shortlisted for 2017 Cinnamon Debut Novel Award

Still Life with Blackbirds, (2016), novella, London: Artists’ Choice Edition

Short stories:

Pretty Feet, longlisted for 2017 Bare Fiction Magazine Prize 

Mr H’s Angels, (2015) in Fortune, J (ed), Patria and Other Stories, Gwynedd: Cinnamon Press. 

'Listen…’ (2014) in Kenton Webb, R. Catalogue of Works, Cheltenham: Celia Lendis publications.

My Mind’s Eye, (2012) in Mythopoeia, Warrington: Warrington Art Gallery

No Ordinary Angel in The London Magazine Vol. 36, 7 & 8, 1996.


Tweet  (2013) original short play performed by Uncommon Nonsense, London: Royal Court Theatre

 Bending Heaven’(2002) adapted reading of Jessica Frances Kane’s short stories, BBC Radio 4

Dear Charlie in Book of the Week, (2008) adapted reading of Reg Thompson’s book, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 4 extra (repeated: 2012, 2015).

Meeting Across the River, (1991) original play, BBC Radio 4 directed by Adrian Bean.

A Pacifist’s War’ (1992) dramatization of the war diaries of Frances Partridge, BBC Radio 4, directed by Adrian Bean

​Ekphrastic collaborations:

​Medusa and her Sisters, ​Burgh House & Museum, Hampstead, 2020

Mythopoeia, ​Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, November 2012 - January 2013


Reardon, J. ‘Ekphrasis in Still Life with Black Birds: Finding a new space - art and prose in collaboration’ (2020) in Writing in Practice, Vol 6, pp.40-52.

Reardon, J. ‘Talking to the dead: the voice of the victim in crime fiction’ (2014) in New writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, Vol 11, Issue 1, p.100-108

‘How the listener was lured in’ (2009) in The Short Story (ed. Cox, Ailsa)  Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Edited collections:

Reardon, J. and Campbell, S. ‘Creative Writing and the traditions of story making’ (2019) in Hughes, J.(ed) A111 Book 2, Chapter 3

Reardon, J. and Attar, D. ‘Creative Writing & Creative Writing from English Language perspective’, (2019) in Language and Creativity, L101Unit 18 

‘New Connections 99: Plays for Young People’, (2000), as Editor with Nick Drake and Susie Graham-Adriani, London: Faber & Faber

‘Theatre of Debate’, (2000) Editor, London: National Theatre Publication

Conference papers:​

  • 'Journeys in a Changing World,' (March 2023), National Association of Writers in Education, annual conference 
  • All Will Be Well’: Hard won wisdom on building resilience through Creative Writing’ (March 2022), National Association of Writers in Education, annual conference 
  • ‘The Creative Writing workshop: ‘Empowerment through poetry’ (July 2022) English Shared Futures Conference, University of Salford, Manchester
  • 'Listen: how working with visual images can shape and illuminate prose in unexpected ways' (November 2018) National Association of Writers in Education, York
  • ‘Talk to me of love’ (November 2017) National Association of Writers in Education, York
  • ‘Designing an online MA’ (November 2017), panel discussion to National Association of Writers in Education, York
  • ‘Sun, sea and fairgrounds: the landscapes of crime fiction’ (July 2017), English Shared Futures Conference, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • ‘The insistent voices of the dead’ (March 2017) Contemporary Cultures of Writing Spring Seminars series, Institute of English Studies, University of London
  • ‘Still Life with Blackbirds – a collaboration between art and fiction’ (November 2016) with Richard Kenton Webb, National Association of Writers in Education, Stratford-upon-Avon
  • ‘Nailing the Thought Down’ (November 2015), Contemporary Cultures of Writing Autumn Seminar series, Institute of English Studies, University of London.
  • ‘Talking to the Dead‘, (July 2012) Great Writing Conference, London: Imperial College
  • ‘The Short Story – a Writer’s Viewpoint’, (May, 2013) Arts & Teaching Scholarship Network, The Open University in the North West. 
  • ‘Dumbo’s Magic Feather’, (July 2007) Great Writing Conference, Bangor
  • ‘Mentoring in Literature Development’, (March 2007) paper and panel discussion with Sara Maitland, National Association Literature Development Conference, Kendal.
  • ‘The short story’ (May 2006) panel discussion with Patricia Duncker and Ra Page organized by BookTrust, Short Story conference, Edge Hill University
  •  ‘How the Listener was lured in. What makes a good crime short story?’ (2006), Short Story Conference, Edge Hill University

Teaching interests

I am currently Chair of the large level 1 compulsory interdisciplinary module A111 Discovering the Arts & Humanties which covers eight subject disciplines from across the arts and humanities.  I am interested in interdisciplinary teaching and have written undergraduate material for the OU (including print, online and audio visual): 'Writing Stories' for A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanities; an introductory unit on creative writing for L101 Introducing English Language and a short six-week course on Travel Writing. I am also writing units on audio drama and fantasy and science fiction for the remake of our level 3 creative writing module A363 Advanced Creative Writing.

At postgraduate level I am supervising three PhD's in fiction. 

Impact and engagement

I am co-Director of the Contemporary Cultures of Writing research group which focuses on writing practices, their cultural contexts and impacts. Our past seminars have investigated wide-ranging subjects, including historical fiction, life writing, style, creativity and language, diversity in publishing, the rise of creative writing, and translation. I convened a series of seminars, Ekphrasis, creating a space for art and literature (2020) and co-convened a conference Writing Place:what haunts the landscape of modern Britain (2023) at the Institute of English Studies, University of London.

I am an Academic Consultant on three OU/BBC co-productions:

  • Write Around the World featuring Richard E.Grant which aired in 2021 The series explored the way writers were inspired by the landscapes of Spain, Italy and France in creating their works and explored the work of writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Patricia Highsmith among others. 
  • Two OU/BBC co-productions for BBC Ideas : ‘5 Books that shaped the world’ which focused on five books that have had profound and lasting impacts on society; ‘What does reading on screens do to our brains’? which looked at the way reading on screens rather than physical books changes the way our brains work.

I've contributed an exhibit from Cowper & Newton Museum, Olney to DREAMing Romantic Europe and its core project RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition)

From 2018 to 2020 I worked with the OU in Wales on leading workshops with FE colleges in South Wales a partnership between the OU in Wales, University of South Wales, Wales Millenium Centre Outreach Creative Writing Project and Coleg Gwent in Newport on writing developing and producing short films.


External collaborations


  • Medusa and her Sisters, (2020), collaboration with Natalie Sirett at Burgh House Museum, Hampstead
  • Still Life with Black Birds’ (2014), novella and exhibition at Corinium Museum, Cirencester – collaboration with Richard Kenton Webb.
  • ‘My Mind’s Eye’ (2012)  short story within exhibition  at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery – collaboration with Iain Andrews for Warrington Arts Festival


The Weight of Bones (2020-09)
Reardon, Joanne
Publisher : Leaf by Leaf, imprint of Cinnamon Press | Published : Gwynedd

Still Life with Blackbirds (2015)
Reardon, Joanne and Kenton Webb, Richard
ISBN : 978-0995557024 | Publisher : Artists Choice Editions | Published : London