Dr Helen Foster

Wellcome Trust Early Career Research Fellow

School/Department: History Politics and International Relations, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)783 712 4296



I completed my BA in Drama and English at Roehampton in 1992 and MA in Heritage and Identity at the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at Birmingham in 2013. My AHRC-funded practice-led PhD on Creative Writing and Oral History history was awarded by the University of Strathclyde in 2019. For many years I lived and worked in Scotland, delivering learning and interpretation for national heritage organisations, in historic houses and archives. In 2019, I took up a post as Researcher at the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) in the Centre for Urban History at Leicester. 

I am also a writer-facilitator, teaching creative writing within adult learning and delivering writing for wellbeing workshops on a freelance basis. I edit the Lapidus Magazine for Lapidus International, an organisation which supports writing and wellbeing practice and am co-founder and secretary of The Oral History Society's Creative Oral History Special Interest Group.  


My AHRC-funded doctoral research produced an extended piece of fiction set against the backdrop of the East Midlands machine-lace industry. A critical thesis examined the possibilities that extant oral histories offer to the writer looking to reimagine a 20th-century fictional setting. 

In 2020 I received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for 'The Silent Archive', a project collecting spoken testimonies about menopause. It brought together a new archival collection of narratives of lived experience through interview, facilitated conversations, personal audio diaries and creative writing. A creative strand developed in partnership with Writing East Midlands produced an anthology of poetry and prose called 'Women's Things'.

My current Wellcome Trust funded research explores the wellbeing potential of sharing life stories about and during midlife. It considers ways in which this can be a shared community practice and a private practice and draws on narrative theory and therapy, autoethnography and reminiscence practices as tools for wellbeing. Project outputs will include a framework for organisations to develop their own story sharing practices as wellbeing tools.


Foster, H. L. (2020) 'Menopause: A Collage of Meanings from Lived Experience' in L. Salisbury, S. Hinchliffe, L. Choksey, et al (eds.) The Index of Evidence. University of Exeter  Wellcome Centre, online:
Foster, H. L. (2020) 'At the Intersection of Memory, History and Story: An Exploration of the Nostalgic Feeling which Arose when Listening to Oral History Archives as an Inspiration for Novel-Writing'. LIRIC Journal, 1(1): pp. 86-107.

Foster, H. L. (2018) 'Finding Poetry in the Sound Archives: Creatively Repurposing Oral Histories for Re-presentation and Engagement'. Oral History 46(1): pp.111-118.

As a writer of fiction, my creative work has been published in Mslexia magazine and presented at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.


Oral History


I have taught on EN7040 Research Methods in Creative Writing in the MA Creative Writing at the University of Leicester and previously taught an undergraduate module in Creative Non-fiction at the University of Strathclyde.

I have also taught Drama and English in secondary schools and further education and continue to teach in adult and community learning. I hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). 

Press and media

Oral History


Co-founder and Secretary, Oral History Society Creative Oral History Special Interest Group
Editor, Lapidus Magazine, Lapidus International
Board Member, Lapidus International
Peer Reviewer, LIRIC Journal

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