Midge Gillies

Dr Midge Gilles is the author of Writing Lives: Literary Biography and co-author of Literary Non-Fiction: a Writers’ & Artists’ Companion. She is a highly experienced educator, having taught creative writing for more than 20 years at Cambridge University, as well as biography masterclasses for the University of East Anglia.

Midge has always loved true stories. She grew up in Suffolk, the only child of parents who had both left school at 14 but who kept their family history alive through tales of life in Prisoner of War camps, distant ancestors on the remote Scottish island of St Kilda and wayward relatives who lived double lives. Midge studied history at Cambridge University but realised she wasn’t interested in prime ministers and monarchs, preferring to find out about ordinary people. 

She is the author, or co-author, of ten non-fiction books, including biographies of record-breaking pilot, Amy Johnson, and Edwardian music hall star, Marie Lloyd. Her most recent book, Piccadilly: The Circus at the Heart of London was described by the TLS as “[A] magpie’s nest of a book, replete with anecdotes, sketches and quotes . . . Piccadilly is painstakingly researched and as busy as the Circus itself.” 

Midge teaches creative writing at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge. She has a PhD from the University of East Anglia. 

Midge is married to award-winning crime writer Jim Kelly (who also writes as JG Kelly) and she enjoys spending time with people who make stuff up for a living, although creative non-fiction remains her first love. 


‘Midge has been an incredibly helpful and inspirational mentor as I began my memoir, which started under her guidance long before it was found by a literary agent and signed a US book deal. Midge helped me to focus not just on the technical and structural aspects of writing my memoir, but also on the emotional, familial, historical, and even political aspects of the writing. She is an empathetic, thoughtful tutor who really understands the individuality of each student. I cannot recommend studying with Midge enough!’
Jill Damatac

‘Midge is the best sort of guide and mentor – kind to her students, creating a safe and happy space to learn, but an absolute authority on her subject. You won’t leave her course without a writing bag stuffed with tools and arms strengthened to use them.’
Joy McAlpine-Black

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