The Robert Burns Fellowship

The Robert Burns Fellowship is New Zealand's premier literary residency. It was established in 1958 by a group of anonymous Dunedin citizens to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Burns, and to perpetuate the community's appreciation of the part played by the related Dunedin family of Dr Thomas Burns in the early settlement of Otago. The Fellowship aims to encourage and promote imaginative New Zealand literature and to associate writers with the University.

The annual, 12-month Fellowship provides an office in the English Department and not less than the minimum salary of a full-time university lecturer. It is open to writers of poetry, drama, fiction, biography, autobiography, essays or literary criticism who are normally resident in New Zealand, and who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, have established by their published work, or otherwise, that their writing would benefit from their holding the Fellowship.

Previous Fellowship recipients since 2008

See the list of all previous Fellowship recipients


Photo of Craig Cliff

Craig Cliff

Robert Burns Fellow 2017

Craig Cliff’s short story collection “A Man Melting” won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book, and his novel “The Mannequin Makers” has been translated into Romanian, with a US version forthcoming in 2017. He has also published poetry, columns, book reviews and essays, and presents at festivals and conferences about writing or his other specialty - the design of education facilities.

“Taking up the Burns Fellowship in 2017 will be the best kind of disruption for me, and an adventure for my young family. When writing my last book I spent a lot of time imagining Otago in the 19th and early 20th centuries and it's a blessing and an honour to be invited to spend a year there in the flesh, to write, but also to think, converse and explore.”

Craig will work on a novel about a location scout and a levitating saint — “another tilt at the margin between the weird and the routine, art and life, past and present.”

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Otago Fellows University of Otago