Tessa West


After training as a teacher and working in schools, I was offered the opportunity to teach in a prison. I was immediately interested in the community of the prison and in my adult students.

I was fortunate enough to win a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to visit Scandinavian prisons, an experience which made me want to make prison life more purposeful and positive for both prisoners and staff. Later, while heading up a prison education department, I gained an MA in Education and was awarded a Cropwood Fellowship at the University of Cambridge.

I was appointed as an assistant governor, a post I held until establishing myself as a consultant. This included a spell with the UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Department in Vienna. Later, I served as an Independent Member of the Parole Board, a fascinating and significant experience.

By then I was writing poetry, had published my first novel and was keen to develop my writing. While researching for my biography of John Howard, I was awarded an Arthur Welton award.

I also completed an MA in Writing the Visual at Norwich University College of the Arts. Research into a different aspect of East Anglia resulted in The Other Vikings, an illustrated concertina art book containing poems about Viking women.

A long-standing interest maps led to me creating Maps & Poems, an exhibition which consisted of some twenty maps and the poems they inspired me to write.

I shall soon develop my thinking about another novel, or perhaps a biography… but I also try to make time to get out on my bike and to canoe on the River Stour.

My Image