Professor Scarlett Thomas

Professor of Creative Writing and Contemporary Fiction


Scarlett Thomas is the author of nine books. Her most recent publications include The Seed CollectorsMonkeys with TypewritersOur Tragic Universe; and The End of Mr. Y. Her work has been translated into 24 languages, longlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize and shortlisted for the South African Boeke Prize. In 2001 she was included in the Independent on Sunday's list of the UK's 20 best young writers, and in 2002 she won an Elle Style Award for the novel Going Out. In 2010 she was Selected by the Telegraph as one of the best 20 novelists under 40. She has written short fiction, reviews and articles for various anthologies and publications, including Nature Magazine, the Guardian and the New York Times. She has also had stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and nature writing broadcast on Radio 3. She has read at many literary festivals and music festivals.


Scarlett is interested in supervising innovative, contemporary novels at MA and PhD levels. She is interested in novels of ideas, contemporary realism, magical realism, mathematical novels, and work with a strong sense of place and deep characterisation.

She is currently supervising or co-supervising 10 PhD projects, all of which are novels.


Showing 50 of 64 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Thomas, S. (2017). Why I was Wrong About Children’s Fiction. The Guardian [Online]. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2015). Ecco perché i libri erotici non sono solo "sfumature". La Repubblica [Online]:6-6. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2015). Forget EL James, let’s have some real dirty fiction. The Guardian [Online]:17-17. Available at:
    As Grey smashes UK sales records, Scarlett Thomas reveals a lifelong love of dirty books, and asks whether female writers who focus on sex are taken seriously
  • Thomas, S. (2015). Nowhere to run: did my fitness addiction make me ill?. The Guardian [Online]:20-24. Available at:
    Scarlett Thomas was a born-again fitness fanatic, religiously measuring her performance in daily stats and graphs. Then she started to feel dizzy – was her Fitbit fighting back?
  • Thomas, S. (2014). Love match: how I finally got to play at Wimbledon. The Guardian [Online]:20-24. Available at:
    Talented as a teen, Scarlett Thomas gave up tennis and became a slouch. Now she's at Wimbledon – how did that happen?
  • Thomas, S. (2006). “Paratext”: Step into another world. Nature [Online] 441:548-548. Available at:
    Short story.
  • Thomas, S. (2004). Sofa Sagas. Daily Telegraph “Music on Thursday” [Online]:19. Available at:


  • Thomas, S. (2017). How to Write a Book: The Essay on BBC Radio 3. [BBC Radio 3]. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2013). Winter Walks: The Essay on BBC Radio 3. [Radio]. Available at:
    It's the turn of novelist Scarlett Thomas to get going and record her journey. Her cold weather walk takes in many fruits and vegetables, and evokes places such as Ash and Staple. But where is she?

    The wonders of winter are best observed on foot. So five writers were asked to go walking whilst the landscape is still transformed by the cold. Deborah Levy, Christopher Hope, Scarlett Thomas, Erica Wagner and Owen Sheers all headed out to different places, and then reported back about their journeys and the actual activity of walking. What did it mean to them?
  • Thomas, S. (2010). Algorithms. [Radio].
  • Thomas, S. (2008). Five Easy Ways With Chilli. [Radio Short Story]. Available at:
    In Scarlett Thomas's tale, a young woman shares her knowledge of how to cook with chillis, illuminating her relationships with her lovers in the process. Chillis are hot and passionate, but they also sting and can leave a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Thomas, S. (2005). “Brother and Sister and Foot.” [BBC Radio 4].


  • Thomas, S. (2018). The Chosen Ones. [Online]. Canongate. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2017). Dragon’s Green. Canongate Books Ltd.
    Effie's world comes to life with a magical GLOW-IN-THE-DARK cover 'Some people think opening a book is a simple thing. It's not. Most people don't realise that you can get truly lost in a book. You can. Especially you.' AFTER THE WORLDQUAKE, MAGIC IS SEEPING INTO OUR WORLD Effie Truelove is a new pupil at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange, with its twisted grey spires and an English teacher so frightening she gives the class nightmares. When her beloved grandfather is brutally attacked, Effie promises to look after his magical books. But then shady book-collector Leonard Levar gets his hands on them and Effie has to embark on the most dangerous adventure of her life ...Effie must travel to the mysterious Otherworld, unlock the hidden meaning of an old book called Dragon's Green, and brave the terrifying Diberi, a secret organisation with plans that could destroy the entire universe. But Effie can't face the Diberi alone. Can her new school-friends Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven combine their gifts and discover their true powers in time?
  • Thomas, S. (2015). The Seed Collectors. [Online]. Canongate. Available at:
    Great Aunt Oleander is dead. To each of her nearest and dearest she has left a seed pod. The seed pods might be deadly, but then again they might also contain the secret of enlightenment. Not that anyone has much time for enlightenment. Fleur, left behind at the crumbling Namaste House, must step into Oleander's role as guru to lost and lonely celebrities. Bryony wants to lose the weight she put on after her botanist parents disappeared, but can't stop drinking. And Charlie struggles to make sense of his life after losing the one woman he could truly love. A complex and fiercely contemporary tale of inheritance, enlightenment, life, death, desire and family trees, The Seed Collectors is the most important novel yet from one of the world's most daring and brilliant writers. As Henry James said of George Eliot's Middlemarch, The Seed Collectors is a 'treasurehouse of detail' revealing all that it means to be connected, to be part of a society, to be part of the universe and to be human.
  • Thomas, S. (2012). Monkeys With Typewriters: How to Write Fiction and Unlock the Secret Power of Stories. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd.
    Stories are everywhere...Exploring the great plots from Plato to The Matrix and from Tolstoy to Toy Story, this is a book for anyone who wants to unlock any narrative and learn to create their own. With startling and original insights into how we construct stories, this is a creative writing book like no other. It will show you how to read and write better.
  • Thomas, S. (2011). Our Tragic Universe. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd.
    Could a story save your life? If Kelsey Newman's theory about the end of time is true, we are all going to live forever. But who would want that? Certainly not Meg, a bright spark trapped in a hopeless relationship. But if she can work out the connection between a wild beast on Dartmoor, a ship in a bottle, the science of time a knitting pattern for the shape of the universe, she might just find a way out.
  • Thomas, S. (2007). The End of Mr. Y. United Kingdom: Canongate Book Ltd.
  • Thomas, S. (2005). PopCo. Harvest Books.

Book section

  • Thomas, S. (2012). "The Birthday Candles". In: Glenn, J. and Walker, R. eds. Significant Objects. New York: Fantagraphics, pp. 17-17.
  • Thomas, S. (2009). "Paint a vulgar picture". In: Wild, P. ed. Paint a Vulgar Picture: Fiction Inspired by The Smiths. London: Serpent’s Tail, pp. 211-220.
  • Thomas, S. (2005). "Four". In: Matter 05. Mews Press, pp. 85-98.

Internet publication

  • Thomas, S. (2011). The Drop [Digital short story]. Available at:
    Part of The Tomorrow Project; bestselling authors describe daily life in the future. Includes stories by Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas and Heitz Markus.


  • Thomas, S. (2009). “Caffeine". Independent on Sunday [Print magazine].
  • Thomas, S. (2006). “The Architects’ Assistant.” Independent on Sunday [Print newspaper].
  • Thomas, S. (2006). “The Photocopier Guy Makes Good" (Interview with George Saunders). [Print newspaper].
  • Thomas, S. (2006). “In the multiverse, novels are all true” (Interview with Andrew Crumey). [Print newspaper].


  • Thomas, S. (2016). Martin Seay’s The Mirror Thief. New York Times Book Review [Online]:14-14. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2015). David Mitchell’s Slade House. New York Times Book Review [Online]:18-18. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2015). Trigger Warning: Short Fictions & Disturbances by Neil Gaiman review – vivid tales with a twist. The Guardian [Online]:14-14. Available at:
    An imaginary girlfriend comes to life and a babysitter is bested in this impressive collection of short stories
  • Thomas, S. (2015). Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble. New York Times Book Review [Online]:17-17. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2014). Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto – family life and mental turmoil in Bombay. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
    A mother's manic depression reveals Pinto's command of dialogue and offers fresh insight into late 20th-century India
  • Thomas, S. (2014). The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh. The Sunday Times [Online]:15-15. Available at:
    A daring novel about a woman’s lust for her stepdaughter’s boyfriend
  • Thomas, S. (2013). How Should a Person Be by Sheila Heti. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
    An engaging mashup of memoir, fiction and philosophy is ultimately a meditation on ugliness rather than beauty
  • Thomas, S. (2012). The Cook by Wayne Macauley. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
    A satire on gastronomy puts Scarlett Thomas off fine dining
  • Thomas, S. (2012). Umbrella by Will Self. The Sunday Times [Online]:16-16. Available at:
    A beginning, a middle and an end? Coherent characters? You won't find them in Will Self's defiantly unreadable Man Booker-longlisted novel
  • Thomas, S. (2012). Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
    Scarlett Thomas enjoys a breathtakingly unpredictable anti-novel
  • Thomas, S. (2012). The New Republic by Lionel Shriver. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2012). Talullah Rising by Glen Duncan. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2011). City of Bohane by Kevin Barry. The Guardian [Online]:16-16. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2011). Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. The Guardian [Online]:16-16. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). Book of a Lifetime: Chekhov: A Life in Letters. The Independent [Online]:16-16. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). William Gibson’s Zero history. New York Times Book Review [Online]:24-24. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). Player Oone by Douglas Coupland. The Guardian [Online]:15-15. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). Boxer, beetle by Ned Beauman. The Guardian [Online]:17-17. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore. The FT [Online]:17-17. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2010). C by Tom McCarthy. The FT [Online]:17-17. Available at:
  • Thomas, S. (2007). Les liaisons dangereux Choderlos De Laclos; Book of a lifetime. Independent Arts & Book Review:0-0.


  • Ogier, T. (2018). The Bunker (a Novel) and The Male Nude: Arrested Development in the Portrait of the Artist Novel (a Journalistic Essay).
  • Hristova, H. (2015). The Happiness Index.
    The Happiness Index is a queer, existential novel that tells of Vibekke, one of the six unhappiest people in Denmark. Signed up as a baby by her eccentric father to take part in a study that measures citizens’ happiness and compares her to other Danes, Vibekke struggles to find purpose. She isn’t unhappy, whatever her Happiness Index score says. She loves her girlfriend, Mia, and cat Monkey, and although Jens/dad once ‘disappeared’, and came home again, for reasons he won’t say, he and Vibekke are close. Things change when a marketing agency sends Vibekke to an isolated Costa Rican beach to look after sea turtles, alone - except for a cameraman, a dog named Bono, and three other miserable people. Sex on a turtle grave, marketing happiness, and the significance of sausages all juxtapose in the plot to record Vibekke’s struggle to lead a life that is not empty, and to realise the significance of her relationship with her father. Vibekke learned from a young age that ‘everything passes’ and nothing really matters. But as she makes more choices – to love fellow Happiness Index case study Ali; to cheat on Mia with Ali in Costa Rica; and to leave Mia – Vibekke finds that the way in which ‘everything passes’ means something. By the end of The Happiness Index, Vibekke finds that the realisation that nothing really matters somehow makes her more free to be herself - even if there’s no such thing as ‘being yourself’, even if you make it up as you go along, even if you can’t answer the big questions. Are you happy, is this it, and how should you know?
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