Qaisra Shahraz is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an award-winning novelist, playwright, education consultant and a college inspector. Born in Pakistan she has lived in Manchester since her childhood. She is a devoted parent of three sons. As well as being a strong, active member of the Pakistani community here in the UK, she has excellent links with Pakistan in various capacities. Qaisra has two thriving careers in literature and in education and is a director of Gatehouse Books.
Qaisra has gained three degrees: a BA Honours in English Literature and Classical Civilisations from the University of Manchester as well as two Master Degrees in European Literature and Scriptwriting for Television from the University of Salford. To enhance her cultural, religious and historical knowledge of the Muslim world, she undertook a Higher Certificate in Islamic Studies at the Metropolitan University of Manchester.
Career in Education
Her career in education ranges from teaching, teacher training, lectures as well as college inspections for Ofsted and Adult Learning Inspectorate. Qaisra has inspected colleges throughout the UK and trained and taught in schools, both primary and secondary, colleges, adult education centres, and universities. Over a number of years, she has given seminars and lectures on educational issues and literature at universities and colleges in England and throughout Pakistan. She works for Manchester Adult Education Service and is currently supporting the Management and the Service on quality issues, staff development training and inspection work.
Qaisra Shahraz has a successful writing career in many genres and has become one of Britain ’s leading authors. In her early years, she wrote features for newspapers, magazines and journals. Some of her short stories have won several awards as well as being studied in Europe – in particular two of her stories A Pair of Jeans and The Elopement have been popular and studied in schools and colleges in Germany in Invitation toLiterature (Cornelson). A Pair of Jeans has published in two German editions: In Writing Women: Twentieth Short Stories, (Cornelson), Raabit’s English (Raabit). It is now published by four major school/college literature textbooks under the title One Language: Many Voices by Cornelson, Diesterweg Verlag, Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH and Schoeningh in Germany also in India in And The World Changed : Anthology of Short Stories by Pakistani Women Writers by Women Unlimited.
Qaisra Shahraz’s debut novel The Holy Woman (2001, BlackAmber Books) was launched at the House of Lords and hosted by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham. It became the Best Book of the Month in Bradford – it has subsequently featured in various festivals throughout the UK including One Book for Coventry. It was the winner of the Golden Jubilee Award in Manchester 2002 and was part of the Commonwealth Literary Festival. It is also published in Pakistan by Alhamra Press, in Turkish by Truva under the title Kutsal Kadín and in Bahasa Indonesia as Perempuan Suci by Mizan Pustaka.
Her second novel Typhoon (2003, BlackAmber Books), a sequel to The Holy Woman, is already published in four countries including Pakistan and Holland (translated into Dutch and published by Van Gennep, 2003) in Turkish by Truva. The book was launched at the House of Commons and hosted by the Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP. It has enjoyed a similar success as her debut novel and become part of the major Birmingham Book Festival and the Bradford Festival. She is currently working on her new novel.
Qaisra Shahraz is a professional scriptwriter and her successful first fourteen-episode drama serial Dil Hee To Hai was broadcast on Pakistani TV and throughout the world on Prime TV. This drama serial was subsequently short-listed for five awards on Pakistani Television and won two. Her second drama serial Tauheenis in production.
Links with Pakistan
Qaisra Shahraz loves Pakistan, her country of origin, and visits it regularly. She has cemented and appreciates the strong links. She enjoys the friendship of people in the worlds of media, literature, diplomacy, arts, politics, and education. All three of her novels and drama serials are set in Pakistan exploring themes and issues, which are universal. She is committed to raising awareness of many issues-particularly in education and health. For instance in her first drama serial Dil Hee To Hai she explored the issue of dyslexia and the problem with reading. In her new drama serial Tauheen, she is raising the awareness of cancer and focusing on the themes of superstition and domestic violence. Under the auspices of the British Council, she has more than once delivered training and workshops on the subjects of Quality of Education, Inspections, and Literature at Agha Khan University (Karachi), Allama Iqbal University (Islamabad) and The University of Punjab (Lahore) and numerous colleges. She feels passionate about women related issues and throughout her work whether in writing or in education her aim is to empower women, to enhance their quality of life and have access to opportunities that she herself enjoys living in a developed country.
Qaisra Shahraz has won several prizes for her short stories including the first prize for New Horizons New Spheresand the prestigious Ian St James Award for her story Perchavah.
The Holy Woman won the Golden Jubilee Award in 2002. The drama serial Dil Hee To Hai won two awards and was nominated for five including for the best playwright by Pakistani Television.
She was short-listed for Asian Woman’s Achievement Awards and Awards for Excellence by the Muslim News.
Qaisra was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2002.
Featured in Women @ Work travelling exhibition co-sponsored by the British Council and the Pakistani Human Development Agency, touring Pakistan and the UK.
She is included in the Asians in the Millennium Book for her achievements.
She has been chosen as an excellent Role Model as part of the Oral History Project of the Pakistani Communities for the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Archives in Manchester.
Committees and Memberships
Qaisra Shahraz is a patron of Southwark Muslim Council, a member of The Writers’ Guild of Britain, NATFE, National Association of Writers in Education, NATESOL, Black Workers Network, Circle of Literary Friends, NAWE, Women’s Writers’ Network, NATECLA, Screen Writers Workshop. She is a member also of numerous management committees, consultative groups and initiatives throughout the UK including Women’s Action Forum, Gatehouse Books, Race Committee. She supports the work of numerous charities including Muslim Hands, Cancer Research UK, Ethnic Minority Fund, Reading is Fundamental, Ruth Hayman Trust. British Ethnic Health Awareness Foundation, (BEHAF).