Swansea writer scales new literary heights with top UK publisher

In a hugely significant breakthrough for a young writer, Swansea University BA and MA Creative Writing graduate Rebecca F. John has just had her first novel The Haunting of Henry Twist published by one of Britain's top literary publishers, Serpent's Tail.

The book, which has been described as ‘a mysterious love story set in 1926 that recalls the power and strangeness of Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ centres on the protagonist Henry Twist. Recently made a widower by result of a tragic accident, he is left with an infant daughter to raise. Quickly becoming reclusive in his behaviour and fearful that his child will be taken from him, he only ventures out under the cover of darkness. It is on the murky post war London streets that he encounters a shadowy figure suffering with amnesia called Jack. Jack is strangely familiar to Henry, and Henry is both afraid of and drawn to him. But who is this mystery man?

Rebecca F. John‌Rebecca F. John © Grant Hyatt Photography

Rebecca, who comes from Swansea and continues a close association with Swansea University’s Creative Writing programme, has already enjoyed huge success with her short stories. The Dog Track, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013, and Salting Home was highly commended in the 2014 Manchester Fiction Prize. In 2015, her short story The Glove Maker’s Numbers was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

She is the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award 2015, and was the British participant of the 2016 Scritture Giovani project. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the RA & Pindrop Short Story Prize, and named on the Hay Festival’s The Hay 30 list.

Rebecca is currently touring the UK with a series of launches of The Haunting of Henry Twist. 

The Haunting of Henry Twist Professor D.J.Britton, Director of Creative Writing at Swansea University, said: "This is a fantastic step forward by a young writer of enormous talent.  The Swansea Creative Writing team are very proud to have been part of Rebecca's journey of literary achievement - her commitment and  determination serve as a superb example to other emerging  writers in Wales."

Rebecca added: “I dreamed of becoming a novelist from a very young age, and seeing that dream fulfilled – particularly with a publisher of Serpent’s Tail’s calibre – is an incredibly gratifying experience.  I’ve worked hard to achieve my ambitions, and studying at Swansea was an enjoyable and worthwhile part of that process, where I was surrounded by writers for the first time and was able to share my work and hopes with excellent peers.  I’m so thrilled that The Haunting of Henry Twist is now published and available for others to read that I feel just like my ten-year-old self again, brimming with ideas and excitement at the weight of a book in her hands.”