Newnham author secures grant for ‘dazzling’ book 

Mathelinda Nabugodi

Dr Mathelinda Nabugodi has been awarded a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant to complete her critical memoir.  

The Trembling Hand: Reflections of a Black Woman in the Romantic Archive is a close read of the Romantic poets which recovers links between the poetry of freedom and the practices of slavery. 

Whiting judges said:Mathelinda Nabugodi dazzles with her originality of approach, opening new ways of seeing and reading. She uses archival treasures – a teacup, a baby’s rattle, a necklace made of human hair – to reframe the dusty portraits of the Romantic poets. Her own story provides sparkling grace notes as she delves into the influence of the slave trade on a literary tradition associated with personal and political freedom.” 

Mathelinda is a Newnham College Assistant Tutor and Fitzwilliam Museum Research Associate. 

The Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant aims to foster original, ambitious projects that bring writing to the highest standard. Previous recipients include Andrea Elliott, author of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City.

Judges said that each of the nine 2022 grantees displays ‘singularity of voice, arresting narrative vision, and in-depth research spread over multiple years. Courtney Hodell, director of literary programs, commented, “From tent cities in America to the places at the border where words fail us, these grantees have the courage and freshness of vision to address consequential stories.” 

A digital chapbook featuring excerpts from the grantees’ works-in-progress is available here; links to videos of the grantees discussing their projects can be found here. 

  • Mathelinda Nabugodi’s book will be published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton and in the US by Knopf in spring 2024.