Lea Hunnings

Lea Hunnings




Lea Hunnings writes fiction and travel writing. She writes to explore and critique her worldview. Fiction helps her to create worlds and explore the human condition. Travel writing provides the with the opportunity to re-live her experiences and to question her own responses to new cultural contexts.             

Lea was born in Harlow. She went to school in Bishops Stortford and moved to Lincolnshire where she completed her secondary education. In 2004 she graduated from Durham University with a B.A. in Classical Studies before continuing her studies with an MA. In 2008 she was awarded her PhD, which focused on the ways ancient Greek texts imagined the slave figure. Lea has published some of her research with Oxford University Press and Duckworth. During this time she made her move into education, teaching refugees as well as English students in Madrid and Galicia, where she was published in an online travel magazine. Lea trained as a secondary teacher in Leicester and taught Classics and English in Sheffield. She has also taught TEFL in Thailand.            

Lea is available for freelance work, particularly travel writing and fiction.


Creative Work

The woman was gaunt, with clipped black hair and eyes like wilted pansies. The long black dress would have been chic had it not clung to her jutting hipbones. The pale green scarf failed to hide her scrawny arms or the faint scars that laced up her inner arm. Recognising them at once as the marks of self-harm, Steph could not take her eyes off this kindred spirit. This person who might understand why some nights the soft bed had seemed too indulgent, so encased in nothingness that a night on the floor afforded a greater sanity.

She pushed her clawed hand into Steph’s. Papery skin, barely concealing her blue veins. Steph gingerly accepted the hand and felt its coldness.           

“Welcome to Sotherby Island.”

The voice was entombed by rehearsed indifference. She read mechanically from a clipboard,

“You are a canker on the skin of society which must not be allowed to spread its infection. Your suicidal tendencies will be eradicated through a programme of genetic alteration, electric stimulation and therapeutic sessions. We have an eighty per cent success rate and our successes return to society to lead lives that uphold the government’s principles of Happiness For All. Twenty per cent of patients fail to be rehabilitated. They must remain incarcerated until the end of their days, devoid of stimuli that might cause them to agitate recuperating patients. Please sign here to acknowledge aural receipt of the programme aims.”



This excerpt was born out of anxiety about the social pressure to feel happy. I envisage a dystopian Leicester, where Pollyanna-style gladness overrules other fundamental human emotions such as anxiety, depression, fear and loneliness. I depict a society that has evolved from a distrust of sadness, leading to collective condemnation of any whose life circumstances or genetic predispositions leave them unable to attain a socially acceptable level of emotional buoyancy. It is a Leicester where mental health issues, crime, poverty and homelessness are swept under the carpet, and where a surveillance government purges society of depressed individuals. It thus segregates them, much like lepers, in a medical facility where they either change their psyche or remain isolated from society. Couched in benign terms, the underlying principle is not unlike the ‘beautification’ of cities like Delhi in the past. Of course, my hope is that such a society will never emerge, yet I feel we are today in danger of belittling what true happiness might be, leaving British citizens feeling inhibited, inadequate, and of course, unhappy.



Spartacus: Pole, proletariat or Christ? in Stray, C (ed) Remaking the Classics: Literature, Genre and Media in Britain 1800-2000, Duckworth, 2007
Between Victimhood and Agency: Nydia the Slave in Bulwer Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii, in Alston, Hall & McConnell (eds) Ancient Slavery and Abolition, From Hobbes to Hollywood. OUP 2011.
The Paradigms of Execution, in Alston, Hall & Proffitt (eds.) Reading Ancient Slavery, Duckworth 2011.


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