History

birneyOnce, creative writing was not taught in schools. Writers were self-taught for the most part, slowly learning their craft alone until they could catch the eye of a sympathetic editor or mentor. In 1946, UBC took a radical step forward in literary education when Earle Birney, then of the English Department, requested one course for the writer “naked in academe.” Birney was one of Canada’s finest writers, winning two Governor General’s Awards in Poetry and publishing more than 20 books. He established the Department of Creative Writing in 1965, the first university writing program in Canada. Even then the program was years ahead of its time, presenting a learner-centered, workshop-driven, interdisciplinary program.

We have grown and changed since then, establishing a BFA and MFA programs, followed by our Optional-Residency MFA Program, which was launched in 2005 to immediate success. Our most recent initiative is the Creative Writing Minor, expanding course options for undergraduate students at UBC.