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marieke bigg1


We are thrilled to bring you the first profile in our new series of ‘Where are they now'? Our first alumna in this series is writer (soon to be author) Marieke Bigg. Marieke graduated in the class of 2010 after finishing her final three years of schooling at IS Hilversum. Her academic journey and career beyond ISH has been both remarkable and inspiring. We are sure you'll enjoy reading about how beautifully Marieke has created a life and career that has combined her talents, interests and importantly her passions.

Marieke, can you share with us a little about life after ISH?

After ISH I decided on a degree in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, based on the US system. I liked this idea because it allowed me to continue to explore a range of subjects and draw connections between them, much as in the IB system. I did half a year at New York University, and majored in comparative literature.  

How was living in NY? Did you study on campus?

I loved NYU. It’s an urban campus, so I stayed in one of the dorms near Washington Square. My favourite course was creative writing, which I’d wanted to study full-time but had opted for a more “sensible” academic route. Taking that course was one of the first nudges I got that made me believe I could pursue creative writing professionally. 

From NY you found yourself at Cambridge University, how did this happen and where did it lead?

I spent a year after this exploring and found myself repeatedly drawn to calls for research. I was inspired by one at the British Library, which called for research proposals on some archives of scientists they held there. I wrote one and they connected me to a professor at Cambridge University. I went on to do an MPhil and PhD there, in sociology, more specifically the sociology of reproductive technologies - of IVF and human embryo research. In doing this, I found myself increasingly trying to write my PhD as a story. I liked telling the story of the scientist at the heart of my research, and found myself wanting to write more freely, in ways that academic convention wouldn’t allow. This led me to turn my research into a popular book. I wrote a proposal and found an agent (at London United Agents). I am now writing a popular non fiction book on ‘how science failed the female body’, inspired by the feminist accounts of science in my PhD.  

Wow! What an interesting path your career has taken. It is truly inspiring to read how you’re weaving your talents, interests and passions together to create a conversation and contribution towards this important discussion. When will we be able to read your book? Do you have a quote for us?

The book will be out next year, and is being edited, so no final quotes yet, but I will keep you posted. The publisher is Hachette, and will be sold internationally. I also allowed myself time to write more fiction, and my debut novel is coming out at the beginning of next year. Updates will appear here.

This is exciting news! We are looking forward to hearing more about this and making sure there’s a copy for our library. When you say 'allowed myself time', what does this mean for you? Do you have a schedule? A writing time? How do you ensure you give your desire to write and to be creative its own priority? 

As suggested above, it took me a while to take my creative writing seriously. I was always enrolled for academic programmes, and always felt that this was a more legitimate career path. It was only when a few people encouraged me to pursue my own writing that I decided I would dedicate time to it, because I loved doing it. I gave myself permission to block out time, sometimes days, weeks or months. It wasn’t always easy, justifying this to myself when it meant I wasn’t doing paid work, or work within a recognised institution. It’s a leap of faith, and I know it’s unrealistic to encourage people to do so without just a bit of support. My advice is to find someone to read your work, someone whose opinion you value. Make them your fan. Once you have one reader hooked, you’ll know you have the tools to attract more. 

For our current students and writerly types reading this, do you have any advice to our budding scientists and creatives?

Allow yourself the time and space to be creative. The scribbles in notebooks, the half-baked, dead-ended ideas that you explore in your free time, are often the seedlings of something great. Give yourself the time and take yourself seriously. Or no one else will. 

What subjects did you enjoy at ISH? Are there any teachers who stand out in your memory of your time here?

My favourite subjects at ISH were English and Biology, I loved drawing connections between these. Mr John was always very encouraging of my English writing and Ms Hoogevorst was always very inspiring in the ways she put biology in the world, telling stories and bringing it to life. 

As a student you also stood out to these teachers and Ms. Hoogevorst is particularly excited about getting her hands on a copy of your upcoming book!

Marieke joined my Biology class in 2007 (called IS4b- it would now be our grade 10 class), and then went on to follow Biology HL in 2008 and graduated in 2010. I can remember that she impressed me right from first teaching her. Bright and insightful, sensitive to the others in the class and most often (by asking insightful questions) leading the thinking of others.  Her grades were astonishing as she would only score sixes and sevens (out of 7)! We still had lessons in the old 'V10' Biology class and her contributions were always very insightful. If I remember correctly, she and another student (Amanda) in that class really stood out academically. I also remember that I was so thrilled to have Bruce in my class after Marieke left school... Hope all is well with both of them, lovely human beings! ~ Ms. Hoogevorst

I remember Marieke as an incredibly astute and perceptive individual. Academically gifted and challenging as a result of her abilities (in a good way), she kept me on my toes! She also had a fantastic British sense of humour – dry and ironic. ~ Mr. John

You’ve studied and worked internationally and we wonder with your Dutch and English background do you consider yourself to be Dutch, English, American or simply International?

I live in London where my agent, publisher, and most of my network is. Dutch culture has shaped a lot of my mannerisms, my values and outlook. But I have a lot of the British sense of humour, and English is my first language. I think calling myself “international” makes sense because what that really denotes, is that I’m part of a small socio-economic elite that has had the privilege of attending expensive, top-tier educational institutions in various places. I’m part of that bubble, and I’m trying to use the privileges it has given me to address issues and tell stories that will benefit those outside of it too. 

This is heartily admirable. What does your life look like now? Are you still studying? How do you enjoy your hobbies and down time?

I’m no longer studying, just writing full time now. I like to read, of course, going to galleries, I love film and theatre. I love dinners with friends. I like walking in nature. I love talking and analysing and just spending time with humans. Pretty simple really, not sure if they qualify as hobbies, but it’s the best I’ve got!

Lastly, we always ask … is there any advice would you give your high school self?


Marieke! Thank you for being so generous with your time and thoughts. It has been an absolute priviledge to be able to share this snapshot of your story with our ISH community. We wish you all the best and look forward to following your creative career. To our readers, we hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as we did chatting with Marieke and are as inspired as we are to ' ... allow yourself time and space to be creative'.

If you'd like to stay updated on Marieke's publications and read some of her online essays please find some links below. We look forward to bringing you more of our alumni stories in this series of 'Where are they now ....".



Hachette (Hodder Studio) and Dead Ink Press.

A selection of online essays:

'Write About Periods, About Destruction and Creation so Closely Entwined'


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To read more on the esteemed company Lena is in, please check out previously featured ISH alumni, in our 'Where are they now?' series ... 

Where are they now? Defne Gencler (Entrepreneur, Comedian, TikTok sensation).

Where are they now? Lena Grobusch - (Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree Candidate).

Where are they now? Abbie Wiggins (Author).


Are you an alumni who would like to be featured? Do you know an alumni with a story we should get in contact with? Email: fcleven@atscholen.nl