Ruth Gilligan

Prof, Dr

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be very interested in receiving proposals for postgraduate projects on any themes related to my research (eg. contemporary fiction; writing the ‘other’; experimental forms; Irish Studies). Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any queries!


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

My novels combine extensive research with formal experimentation to shine a light on lesser known aspects of Irish history and identity. My critical research, meanwhile, examines the way in which contemporary novelists also use unique formal strategies, either when writing about ‘other’ cultures or when emulating the experimentation of the Modernist period.

Finally, I am interested in the concept of empathy and its relationship with narrative and storytelling. This is exemplified in my Impact work, particularly my involvement in the global not-for-profit Narrative 4.


At the age of 18 I published my debut novel Forget (2006) and became the youngest ever person to reach number one on the Irish bestsellers’ list. During my studies at Cambridge and Yale, I published two more commercial novels Somewhere in Between (2007) and Can You See Me? (2009) which also featured on bestsellers’ lists and were translated overseas.

I then took some time away to earn a Creative Writing MA from UEA and a PhD from Exeter; in 2016 I returned with the literary novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, based around the history of Ireland’s Jewish community, and in 2020 I published The Butchers.

My short stories have appeared in a diverse range of publications such as Wasifiri, The Istanbul Review, The Irish Pages, Ambit and Banshee Lit. I also write regular literary reviews for The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The LA Review of Books and The Irish Independent where I was a columnist for a number of years.

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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