Tess Hurson


Tess Hurson was born in the townland of Annaghbeg, on the Tyrone-Armagh border in 1955. She attended St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, before reading English at Trinity College, Dublin. She completed her MA in Anglo-Irish Literature at Queen’s University, Belfast and her PhD at York University, Toronto. Her thesis topic was the work of Flann O’Brien.

She began writing while still at school, editing and contributing articles of a witty nature to the school magazine and to student poetry magazines while at Trinity College. For many years, her academic and journalistic work took up most of her writing energy, but encouraged by such writers as Polly Devlin, she returned to writing poetry and published her first collection, Vivarium, with Lagan Press, in 1997. Tess has worked in a wide range of jobs from waitress to shop assistant to factory worker, farm labourer to teaching international students, to rural and community development, journalism , conference organisation and community arts. She joined the staff of Queen’s university, first as Education Officer for the university’s outreach campus in Armagh and subsequently as a Senior Teaching Fellow with the School of Education. She is currently Director of Undergraduate Programmes in the School and has taught literature, disability studies and community development. She currently teaches a number of courses, including World Literature, founded by Edith Devlin and attracting some 300 adult education ‘Open Learning’ students each year. Over the years, she has given conference papers, published and broadcast on a wide range of subjects from rural identity to mental health to Irish literature. Her most recent publication is an essay and set of poems for the Art of Poetic Inquiry.

Tess was a member of the Arts Council for a number of years as well as being on the Boards of Fortnight Magazine and SELB. She is Chair of the internationally acclaimed Nerve Centre in Derry. She has worked over many years with a range of community based groups, especially in the area of disability. She won the prestigious BERA-SAGE award in 2011 for her creative research practitioner work with men and mental health. With her colleagues in the Open Learning team her work has been shortlisted for the Times Higher education awards (Contribution to the Community), and the team was also given recognition for their innovative, community based adult education with a Queen’s Teaching Award.