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Massey fine arts professor to publish first novel

Professor Morgan

Professor Morgan.

Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts, Sally Morgan, has signed a book deal with British book publisher John Murray (Hodder and Stoughton) for her novel, Toto Among the Murderers.

Professor Morgan has been writing the novel for more than ten years. The book will be published in 2020 as a John Murray Original. John Murray is the longest-established press in the UK and has been responsible for publishing Jane Austen, Conan Doyle and, more recently, Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip. 

The John Murray Originals (JMO) list is described as home for ‘daring and distinctive fiction’. JMO choose to publish only two or three titles on this imprint a year. One of these, in 2017, was Fiona Mozley’s Elmet which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. 

Professor Morgan says she looks forward to collaborating with her editor, Becky Walsh, who was also the editor for Elmet. “The novel is based in Yorkshire in the early nineteen seventies, where a group of art school graduates are trying to make their way in the world. The main character, Toto, is a bit of a wild child and a risk-taker.

“What she loves to do is to hitchhike, at a time when there are murderers, such as the infamous Fred and Rose West and the Yorkshire Ripper, stalking the highways looking for girls to kill. I am thrilled that someone wants to publish it. Having it published in John Murray’s literary fiction imprint, Originals, and working with an editor of Becky’s reputation, is very humbling and enormously exciting.”

The current chair of Massey’s academic board, Professor Morgan is a conceptual artist and cultural historian whose research spans creative works and text-based inquiry. She trained as a painter at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts in Antwerp and as a historian with Raphael Samuel at Ruskin College in Oxford.

Writing has been an important part of her practice for many years, both as an art-based performance artist and an academic. Her performance, installation and publicly-located contextual artworks have routinely included poetic texts and creative narrative. She has presented work in France, Switzerland, Germany, the USA, Japan, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as in the UK and New Zealand.

Career highlights have included work being presented at the ICA in London, the Arnolfini in Bristol, and Belluard Bollwerk, International Live Art Festival, Fribourg Switzerland. Professor Morgan has also published in international journals and has chapters in a number of scholarly collections. She teaches primarily in the PhD programme in the College of Creative Arts.

The novel is due to be released in New Zealand in November next year.

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