We have been telling stories for over 40,000 years, yet we have only been writing them down for about 4,000 years. This lecture looks at the key developments in creative writing over those millennia, how the written word has changed the way we tell stories, and why storytelling remains so important to humans today.

By picking up a pen or opening your laptop and starting to write, you are joining an ink-stained tradition dating back thousands of years.

Start by watching this video about the history of creative writing.

As a wrap-up to this session, have a think about:

  1. Stories you remember from childhood.

  2. Your favourite stories today.

  3. What makes a good story?

Take some time to explore the following resources before the next session.


Additional Resources

Article: Revealed: how Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises 7,000 years ago 

Article: Popular fairy tales date back to the Bronze Age, academics suggest 


Video (7 mins): The History of Writing 


Video (11 mins): The Epic of Gilgamesh 


Article: Full text of the Epic of Gilgamesh


Video: Documentary on Enheduanna: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V


Video (1 hour): The Machine That Made Us (Gutenberg Printing Press Documentary) 


Video (1 hour): The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu 

Video (5 mins): What is Literature for?