Our much-loved friend and former student, the best-selling international author Andrea Levy, who has died aged 62, honed her writing skills and confidence on classes at City Lit and remained a great support of City Lit throughout her life. In 2016, Andrea was awarded a City Lit Lifetime Fellowship in recognition of her commitment to adult education in the UK, and the huge inspiration her writing and career provides City Lit students.
Andrea studied here for six years, and recalled that starting writing classes here at City Lit was both ‘terrifying and thrilling’. She remembered thinking, as her new fellow learners arrived, ‘I bet their writing is better than mine’. She says the City Lit classes were all about ‘building confidence, finding your voice, finding what it was you wanted to talk about, who you were going to be expressing, who you were going to be as a writer’.
Andrea met her fellow author and another Lifetime Fellow, Malorie Blackman in the queue when she enrolled. In those days, you signed up in person, and the students queued all around the building. Malorie was behind her and Andrea recalled hearing her say she’s written 52 books, and thinking, ‘wow!’. Both then studied in the same class for a time.
Andrea said ‘I can’t express how strongly enough, how important City Lit was in my career. It made me realise what writing was.’ In an interview with City Lit Principal Mark Malcomson to receive her Lifetime Fellowship, Andrea said she barely used her degree and felt passionately that it was her adult education at City Lit that was the real professional catalyst: ‘My two hours a week at City Lit has made me into a best-selling international author. Who knew it would be that way around?!’