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Creative and non-fiction writing: student success stories


Learn more about the fantastic accomplishments of City Lit's writing students

City Lit's writing students frequently go on to further study or publication. Below, you can read a selection of our students' many and varied accomplishments.

If you have a success story of your own, we'd love to hear from you! Let us know more at writing@citylit.ac.uk

 

November 2021

Headshot of Odette Elliott and cover of "Abigay's Farm"

Abigay's Farm, by Odette Eliott, is now available from SilverWood Books. Odette studied children's writing at City Lit.

Logo of the Women's Prize for Playwriting

Isabelle Kassam and Gemma Lawrence have both been longlisted for the 2021Women's Prize for Playwriting, for The Rescue and REWILD respectively. They studied playwriting at City Lit.

Headshot of Angela Zaher

Angela Zaher's story "Love, Loss and Recipes" has been published in the first issue of the other side of hope, a new literary magazine featuring refugee and immigrant writing. Angela studied creative writing at City Lit.

October 2021

Headshot of Michael Mann and cover of "Ghostcloud"

Ghostcloud, by Michael Mann, is out now from Hachette Kids. "A riveting, magical adventure set deep underneath a richly reimagined London." Michael studied fiction writing at City Lit.

September 2021

Cover of "Endgame" and headshot of Malorie Blackman

Endgame, the final book in the groundbreaking Noughts and Crosses series by City Lit Fellow Malorie Blackman, is out now from Penguin. 

Headshot of Julia Stone and cover of "Her Little Secret"

Her Little Secret, a gripping new psychological thriller from former City Lit writing student Julia Stone, is out now from Orion Dash. Julia studied fiction writing and screenwriting at City Lit.

Pieter Dewulf at awards ceremony for Evening Standard / Netflix Stories Competition

Pieter Dewulf has won the 2021 Evening Standard / Netflix Stories Competition in the adult category with his story "Jam Jar". Read his winning story here. Pieter studied fiction writing at City Lit.

August 2021

Headshot of Attiya Khan and cover of "Ten Steps to Us"

Ten Steps To Us, the debut YA novel by Attiya Khan, is out now from Hashtag Press. Attiya studied fiction writing and children's writing at City Lit. 

Logo of Runcible Spoon

Susan Wilson's poem "A Poetic Sentence" was published in the webzine Runcible Spoon. Susan studies poetry writing at City Lit.

July 2021

Cover of "Bin Boy" by Tom Vaughan

Bin Boy, the debut children's book by Tom Vaughan, is out now from Scholastic, with illustrations by Emma McCann. Tom studied children's writing at City Lit.

June 2021

Actors from Sunnymead Court - credit Jack Holden

Sunnymead Court by Gemma Lawrence will open at the Arcola Theatre in July, directed by James Hillier, as part of Arcola's Today I'm Wiser festival of outdoor art and performance. Sunnymead Court has been nominated for four Offie Awards and named as a 2020 hit show of the year by The Stage. Gemma studied playwriting at City Lit.

Headshot of Maisie Chan and cover of "Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths"

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, by Maisie Chan with illustrations by Anh Cao, is out now from Piccadilly Press. "Both heartwarming and hilarious, filled with characters you'll instantly love" -- Jamie Smart. Maisie studied children's writing

May 2021

Cover of "Goodnight Mister Tom" and headshot of Michelle Magorian

Michelle Magorian's beloved classic Goodnight Mister Tom celebrates its 40th anniversary this month with a brand-new edition from Penguin Books. “[My City Lit class offered] invaluable advice which at that time I would not have received anywhere else … Thanks to City Lit, I found an agent, the book has been published in many languages and was adapted for television.”

Angela Vincent sitting in park

Angela Vincent used the skills covered in her journalism course with Susan Grossman to successfully write and submit a pitch for the Metro. Her article "Covid-19 gave me the courage to quit my job as a palliative care nurse" was published on 3 May.

Two figures in distance on beach in Ireland (Credit: Mark de Jong - Unsplash)

Susan Wilson has had two poems - "A Weight Off Her Mind" and "Holidays in Ireland" - published on Lucy Writers' Platform. Susan studies poetry writing at City Lit with Ella Frears.

Headshot of Esther Freud and cover of "I Couldn't Love You More"

Esther Freud's new novel I Couldn't Love You More is out now from Bloomsbury. Esther studied fiction writing at City Lit. 

April 2021

Headshot of Marie-Claire Amuah

Marie-Claire Amuah's debut novel Diary of a Magpie has been acquired by Oneworld. "Set against the backdrop of both Ghana and London, and with a voice that sings off the page, this is a wonderfully immersive novel for readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Helen Oyeyemi." Marie-Claire studied creative writing with Natasha Bell.

Cover of "The Pioneering Life of Mary Wortley Montagu" and headshot of Jo Willett

Jo Willett's biography The Pioneering Life of Mary Wortley Montagu is out now from Pen & Sword. "Brilliantly written biography of a fearless woman who changed the course of history" - Anne Sebba. Jo studied non-fiction with Robert Fraser.

Limerick Writers Centre

PR Walker has won 2nd place in the Limerick Writers' Centre's 2021 Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Competition for his poem "The Grammar of the World is losing its Syntax". He has also been commended and long-listed in the 2021 Cheltenham Poetry Festival Transformations competition. PR Walker studied writing poetry with Helen Cox.

Headshot of Angela Zaher and image of hands kneading dough

Angela Zaher has published her first article, "How Lockdown Changed My Relationship with Cooking", for Marmalade + Kindness. "Doing the City Lit course on Ways into Creative Writing not only helped me get through lockdown but it also gave me the confidence boost to take a new direction my life ... I am thrilled to have been published for the first time and I have more articles coming into print shortly." Angela studied creative writing with Grant Corr

March 2021

Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman is to receive the YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award "to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first novel in her seminal YA series, Noughts & Crosses. "During her 30-year career as an author, Malorie has inspired generations of young readers, not only through her own writing, but also during her time as Children’s Laureate, which saw the founding of the UK’s first Young Adult Literature Convention." Learn more >

 

Cover of "Following Nellie Bly" by Rosemary J Brown

Rosemary J Brown's non-fiction book Following Nellie Bly: Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World is out now from Pen & Sword Books. Rosemary studied non-fiction writing with Wes Brown, Julie Garton and Sophie McKenzie. Rosemary commented, "All the teachers are fabulous, but I am particularly grateful to Wes Brown whose creative non-fiction courses were superb. I have been coming to City Lit throughout the years and have benefitted greatly from your offerings – and still do."

Headshot of Attiya Khan

Attiya Khan's debut novel is being published later this year. Attiya has participated in a Q&A with City Lit about her writing journey so far. Read more >

Headshot of Carmen Morris-Coulson

Carmen Morris-Coulson is now represented by Davinia Andrew-Lynch of Andlyn Literary Agency. Carmen studied children's writing with Penny JoelsonRead our Q&A with Carmen about her journey as a writer >

Headshot of Kathryn Southworth and cover of "A Pure Bead"

Kathryn Southworth's poetry collection A Pure Bead, with images by Charles Perrett, has been published by Paekakariki Press. Kathryn studies poetry with Caroline Natzler and Sarah Wardle.

Detail from abstract painting "The Pink Door" by Georges Valmier, 1927

Susan Wilson has had her poetry published on Lucy Writers' Platform, along with a piece entitled How I Write: on poetry, grief, and inspiration in which she recounts her creative journey thus far. Read her poetry here. Susan studies poetry writing at City Lit with Ella Frears.

February 2021

Headshot of Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya Usmani has won the 2021 Next Chapter Award from Scottish Book Trust. The award will support her work on a food memoir about her life growing up by the sea and in Pakistan, around food and women. She commented, "Winning has not only given me confidence in my writing but also reinforced my belief that it’s never too late to follow your dreams." Sumayya studied food writing at City Lit. 

January 2021

Headshot of Georgia Kaufmann and cover of "The Dressmaker of Paris"

Georgia Kaufmann's "sensuous, sweeping and utterly engrossing" debut historical novel The Dressmaker of Paris has been published by Hodder Books. Georgia studied fiction writing with Christina Dunhill

Pile of books, wineglass, and plate of food

Anthony Middleton's short story "Scars" has won the Telegraph Short Story Competition. Anthony studied children's writing with Andrew Weale and credited his course with inspiring him to start writing again. 

Headshot of Tessa Sheridan

Tessa Sheridan's story "The Person Who Serves, Serves Again" has won the 2020 Costa Sort Story Award. Download and read her story here. Tessa studied fiction writing with Maria Thomas and Wendy Brandmark.

iHeadshot of Lara Thompson and cover of "One Night, New York"

Lara Thompson's debut novel One Night, New York s out now from Virago. Lara studied Developing your creative writing with Christina Dunhill

Headshot of Bethany Walker and cover of "Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me"

Bethany Walker's children's book Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me, with illustrations by Jack Noel, has been published by Scholastic. Bethany studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler.

Image of book spinesImage of book spines

 

December 2020

 

November 2020

  • Robert Nurden published his biography Between Heaven and Earth, A Journey with My Grandfather, which author Patrick Quigley called "easily one of the best biographies I've ever read". Robert studied creative non-fiction with Paul Laffan

 

October 2020

  • Rebecca Combrie studied Creative Writing (poetry) at the University of East Anglia and passed with distinction. Rebecca studied poetry writing at City Lit with Barbara Marsh.
  • Michelle Lovric's poem "In Memoriam Doorkins Magnificat of Southwark Cathedral (? – 2020)" was read at Doorkins' funeral service at Southwark Cathedral. Michelle workshoped the poem on her poetry writing course with Christina Dunhill.
  • Nicola Monaghan's latest novel, Dead Flowers, was published by Verve Books, and shortlisted for the UEA Crime Fiction Award. Nicola has previously won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors' Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read.
  • Varsha Shah's novel Adjay and the Mumbai Rail Times won the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. Varsha studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler

 

August 2020

  • Mark Blackburn published his children's book Brian the Barrington Bear, with illustrations by Alice Jowitt. Mark studied self-publishing with Helen Cox
  • Jane Elson's new novel Moon Dog was published by Hodder Children's Books. Jane studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler.
  • Emma Reed publisheded her first piece for Woman Magazine, in their "Don't Tell Me I Can't" slot about becoming a freelance writer. Emma studied journalism with Susan Grossman.

 

July 2020

  • Claudia Court's poetry collection How to Punctuate a Silence was published by Dempsey & Windle. Claudia studied poetry writing with Caroline Natzler. 
  • Agnieszka Dale's short story "The Recipe for Love" was read by Jack Klaff on BBC Radio 4. Agnieszka studied fiction writing with Zoe Fairbairns. 
  • Anna Hope's novel Expectation was published in paperback. "If you wished Normal People had tackled female friendship, try Expectation" (Grazia). Anna studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Janet Olearski has published her new novel, A Traveller's Guide to Namisa. Janet's short fiction has appeared in Wasafiri, Litro, Bare Fiction, The Commonline Journal, and elsewhere. She studied fiction writing at City Lit.

 

June 2020

  • Michael Mann's upcoming children's novel Ghostcloud was chosen for the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2020 Anthology and will be published by Hatchette. Michael studied fiction writing with tutors including Jonathan Barnes.
  • Peter Walker's poem "Apprehended at the Customs Check" was pubished in the New European. Peter studied poetry writing with Helen Cox and Ella Frears.

 

May 2020

  • Ross Duggleby had a short story published in the "Earth" issue of Popshot Quarterly. Ross studied self-publishing with Helen Cox
  • Louise Kimpton-Nye had a piece on life in lockdown published in Southwark News. Louise studied studied journalism with Susan Grossman.

 

April 2020

  • Paul Mendez's semi-autobiographical novel Rainbow Milk was published to critical acclaim by Dialogue Books. The book was named an Observer 2020 Top 10 Debut. "A remarkable debut" -- Marlon James. Paul studied biography writing with Robert Fraser.

 

March 2020

  • Malorie Blackman's novel Noughts + Crosses was adapted into a TV drama which began airing on BBC One. 
  • Isabelle Kasam's writing was performed as part of Rapid Write Response: MEAT at Theatre503. Isabelle studied playwriting with Brian Mullin.
  • Callan Rose McCarthy's writing was performed as part of Rapid Write Response: MEAT at Theatre503. Isabelle studied playwriting with Dawn King.

 

February 2020

 

January 2020

  • Peter Bunzl's new novel, Shadowsea, was published by Usborne. Shadowsea is the fourth book in the Cogheart Adventures series. Peter studied creative writing at City Lit. 
Chairs in a theatreChairs in a theatre

2019

  • Claire Bullen's first book, The Beer Lover's Table with Jen Ferguson, was published by Ryland Peters & Small. Claire studied food writing with Nikki Spencer.
  • Abby Crawford won the Perito Prize for her short story Leg User. Abby studied creative writing with Sue Healy.
  • Anthony Gladman had his first feature published in Ferment Magazine. Anthony studied journalism with Susan Grossman.
  • Ben Gray studied sports journalism at City Lit. He now writes for the website 101 Great Goals.
  • Anna Hope's new novel Expectation was published by Doubleday. It was described in the Observer as "[d]evastatingly perceptive and emotionally wise [...] deserves to feature on many a book prize shortlist this year." Anna also teaches creative writing and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Essex. She studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Jameen Kaur was shortlisted for the 2019 Guardian 4th Estate short story prize for her story 'Once We Were Warriors'. She studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Oliver Kendall's play A New Dawn was performed in October at the King's Head Theatre and Union Theatre in London. Oliver studied playwriting with Dawn King.
  • Andrea Levy's classic novel Small Island was adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson and premiered at the National Theatre to critical acclaim. 
  • Lara Newson's non-fiction piece Head Smash was publiushed by TSS. Lara studied creative non-fiction with Paul Laffan.
  • Michael O'Sullivan's playlet Time to Think was highly commended by the Green Curtain Theatre in their competition Leaving: Stories of Emigration, and was performed at the Irish Centre in Camden Town. Michael studied playwriting with Dawn King.
  • Victoria Selman's second novel, Nothing to Lose, was published in March 2019. Victoria also co-hosts the true crime podcast Crime Girl Gang. She studied creative writing with Barbara Marsh and Courttia Newland.
  • James Young's story "Undigging" was published in the Short Fiction Journal. James has also won the Wasafiri New Writing prize and is currently working on a novel. He studied fiction writing with Wendy Brandmark.
Nib of fountain pen on paperNib of fountain pen on paper

2018

  • Anna Burns won the Man Booker Prize for her novel Milkman. She studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • John Condon's first book, The Wondrous Dinosaurium, was published by Maverick Arts. John studied writing for children with Lou Kuenzler.
  • Gary Donnelly's crime thriller Blood Will Be Born was published as an audiobook, released by Isis Publishing and spoken by actor Stephen Armstrong. Gary studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Alice Fitzgerald's debut novel, Her Mother's Daughter, was published by Allen & Unwin UK. Charity Norman writes: "It's been a long time since I found a book so utterly engaging and enveloping [...] I raced through it, so immersed that it kept me up half the night." Alice studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Tracey Matthias' YA political thriller, Night of the Party, was published by Scholastic. Tracey studied writing for children with Penny Joelson.
  • Anne Patterson's novel Yes was shortlisted for the 2018 Society of Authors McKitterick Prize. Anne studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Emma Pitt released a short film, The Ballad of a Haunted Man, starring Shane Attwooll (Legend, Dark River), Helen Lederer (Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie) and Eliza Leonard (Scratch). Emma studied television screenwriting with Jim Hill. This led to an MA and she is now a professional writer.
  • Beverley Sanford's story "Pain Management" was included in the Doctor Who Target Storybook. studied writing for children with Lou Kuenzler.
  • Salma Siddiqui's first novel, The Migrants, was published by Platinum Press. Salma studied creative writing with Jonathan Barnes.
  • Samuel Sims studied playwriting with Dawn King. He is managing editor of A Younger Theatre and his work has been published in The StageQX and Sister Magazine
  • Rachel Steinberg studied sports journalism with Charles Runcie and was subsequently accepted onto the sports journalism NCTJ course at News Associates.
  • Luke Tredget's debut novel, Kismet, was published by Faber. Luke also joined a panel on contemporary prose fiction as part of City Lit's 2018 festival of writing. He studied in our advanced critical workshop for creative writers.
  • Natasha Zierhofer's play Sex Magick opened the autumn 2018 season at the Barons Court Theatre. She studied playwriting at City Lit. 
Close up of person writing in a bookClose up of person writing in a book

2017

  • Isabel Costello published her debut novel Paris Mon Amour, which  is available in paperback, ebook and audio. Isabel studied creative writing with Christina Dunhill. 
  • Gary Donnelly's debut crime thriller Blood Will Be Born was published by Endeavour Media. Award-winning crime novelist Adrian McKinty described the book as “brilliant” and Gary as “an exciting new voice in Northern Irish noir.”
  • Peter Ebsworth was featured as one of City Lit's Student Stories. His poems have been published in magazines and journals including the Spectator, and he is a founding editor of South Bank Poetry Magazine. Peter studies poetry at City Lit with John Stammers.
  • Jean Ellis published her book Goodbye, Burma, based on real events. Jean studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • FoodPunk Joe is a freelance food writer who runs his own blog and is a contributor to LuxuryLondon.com and Food & Drink News. He studied food writing at City Lit with Nikki Spencer.
  • Nicole Lee's poetry was longlisted for the 2017 National Poetry Competition. Nicole studied writing poetry with Barbara Marsh.
  • Sarah Mackey's story "Mrs Peacock and the Broad Bean Baby" won first prize in the Ilkley Literary Festival short story writing competition, and her story "Forget Me Not" won third prize in the Bath Short Story Award. Sarah studied fiction writing with Wendy Brandmark.
  • J. Jason Mitchell published an article in the London Review of Books about his expeeriences aboard a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean, working with German NGOs. He studied creative non-fiction with Paul Laffan.
  • Anne Patterson's debut novel Yes was published by Silvertail Books. Anne studied courses on writing fiction and creating your author platform online. 
  • Victoria Selman's first novel, Blood for Blood, was shortlisted for the 2017 Debut Dagger Award and is a Kindle #1 bestseller. Victoria also won the 2013 Full Stop Short Story Competition. She studied creative writing with Barbara Marsh and Courttia Newland.
  • Lesley Sharpe's poetry was shortlisted for the Bailieborough Prize, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, and the Bridport Prize. Lesley is also a co-founder of Lodestone Poets, a quarterly poetry event. She studied poetry writing with Martina Evans.
  • Matilda Velevitch's first play, Three Mothers, was produced at the Waterloo East Theatre and won the Isle of Man Arts Council Prize and The Octagon Prize. Matilda studied screenwriting and novel writing at City Lit.
  • Andy Wasley studied travel writing with Susan Grossman. In the weeks following the course, he had two travel writing pitches accepted - on Japan and the Pennine Way - for a UK LGBT magazine and a US backpacking magazine.
  • Sumayya Usmani's second cookbook Mountain Berries and Desert Spice: Sweet Inspiration From the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea was published by Frances Lincoln. 'Wonderfully evocative and ridiculously tempting' -- Felicity Cloake.
  • Dr Abby J Waterman's memoir, Woman in a White Coat, was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Biography Prize and the Wasafiri Memoir Prize. She studied creative writing at City Lit. 
Close up of pen writing in bookClose up of pen writing in book

2016

  • Malorie Blackman was awarded a prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Gold Award after being nominated by City Lit. She studied children's writing at the college in the late 1980s. Since then, she has written more than 50 books and was named as Children’s Laureate in 2013. Her books for children and young adults include the Noughts & Crosses series, HackerPig Heart Boy and Boys Don't Cry. In 2015 she was awarded a City Lit Fellowship. She is patron of our Malorie Blackman Scholarships for 'Unheard Voices' >
  • Peter Bunzl's book Cogheart was Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month in August. Peter studied various genres of creative writing at City Lit.
  • Ciara Flood's latest picture book, The Perfect Picnic, was published by Templar. Ciara was also a special guest at City Lit’s 2016 literary festival. She studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler.
  • Jo Franklin's first children’s book, Help, I’m an Alien, was published by Troika Books. Jo studied children's writing with Penny Kendal.
  • Zehra Hicks was a special guest at City Lit's 2016 literary festival. She is a successful writer and illustrator of children's books. Zehra studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler.  
  • Andrea Levy 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 to City Lit students. Watch her interview with City Lit's Principal Mark Malcomson. Andrea studied creative writing at City Lit. She was the acclaimed author of five novels, including Small Island, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and has been adapted for television.
  • Sumayya Usmani's debut cookbook/memoir Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes and memories from Pakistan was published by Frances Lincoln. Sumayya was also resident food writer for the Guardian in February 2016. Sumayya got her first taste of food journalism in a workshop with Nikki Spencer. Read our 2017 conversation with Sumayya >
Image of typewriter and bookImage of typewriter and book

2015

  • Harrie Dobby's short play The Gap was chosen as part of City Lit’s Page to Stage programme in 2014 and went on to a production at The Cockpit Theatre, London and the New York Fringe in August 2015.
  • Tasha Kavanagh's first novel, Things We Have In Common, was published and shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Costa Book Award. Tasha studied writing for children with Lou Kuenzler and now teaches at the college. Browse courses taught by Tasha >
  • Paul McVeigh's debut novel, The Good Son, won the Polari Prize and the McCrea Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and other prizes. Paul co-founded the London Short Story Festival and is associate director at Word Factory.

 

2014

  • Jane Elson's debut novel A Room Full of Chocolate was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and Peters Book of the Year. She studied children's writing with Lou Kuenzler.
  • Esther Freud published her eighth novel, Mr Mac and Me. Esther studied fiction writing at City Lit.
  • Sally O'Reilly's novel Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady was published by Picador. "[A] pleasure for anyone who enjoys well-crafted historical fiction" (Washington Post). Sally studied fiction writing at City Lit.

 

2012

  • Ceri Jones studied food writing with Nikki Spencer. She now runs her own blog, Natural Kitchen Adventures, and works as a freelance chef, cooking teacher, food & recipe writer, and yoga retreat chef.

 

2011

  • Moira Young's novel Blood Red Road was published by Simon & Schuster. Blood Red Road won the Costa Children’s Book Award, was a Cybils Award Winner for fantasy and science fiction, and was a Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. It is the first book in the Dust Lands series. Moira studied writing for children with Elizabeth Hawkins.

 

2007

  • Segun Afolabi published Goodbye Lucille, which won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award. He has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2005.

Between the Lines

Every year a selection of students' work is published in Between the Lines, City Lit's anthology of creative writing. Find out more and learn how to submit your work >


We'd love to hear from you!

Are you a former or current City Lit student who has gone on to further study or publication? We would love to hear from you and include your story on this page! Please do let us know further details by getting in touch at writing@citylit.ac.uk.


Learn more

>> Get in touch at writing@citylit.ac.uk or give the Writing Department a call on 020 7492 2717.

>> Find out more about creative writing at City Lit.

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