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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > June 2016 > Beat the bestsellers

Beat the bestsellers


Tony Rossiter looks at a writer who feels a great urgency to tell stories and to try out new techniques

At the age of 58, after almost forty years of trying and failing to become a published writer, Marina Lewycka finally made it. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) was rejected 36 times before it was taken on and became a worldwide hit. It’s an object lesson in the value of perseverance; of never giving up.


Marina Lewycka was born just after the end of the Second World War in a British-run refugee camp in Kiel; her Ukrainian parents had been taken to Germany as forced labourers. She and her parents came to England when she was about a year old and lived briefly in Sussex before they moved to their first home near Doncaster. She wrote her first poem at the age of four and it was always her dream to become a writer. But the only creative work she had published prior to Tractors was a poem in an Arts Council magazine many years ago. She studied English and philosophy at Keele University, took a BPhil at the University of York and then embarked upon (but did not complete) a PhD at King’s College, London. She lived in a commune before returning to South Yorkshire, where she became first a teacher and then a lecturer in media studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

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Handling heroes: Learn from the Bard New series: An insider's view of publishing Written your book? We'll help you sell it! How to: • Write better features • Sell and re-sell your writing overseas • Create a screenplay from your novel Pen pushers: Ideas and exercises to inspire your writing Star interview: Scandalous historian Halle Rubenhold WIN! A 6-day Arvon writer's retreat worth £600

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