Nelson, Dr Graham


Graham Nelson

Stipendiary Lecturer in Maths and Supernumerary Fellow

Graham is a British mathematician and poet. He studied geometry in his undergraduate at Cambridge and went on to earn a doctorate at Magdalen College, Oxford, under Simon Donaldson’s supervision before becoming a fellow in pure mathematics at St Anne’s. During this time, he developed his activity as a creative writer and created the Inform design system for creating interactive fiction (IF) games. A radical reinvention of the tool-chain needed to make interactive fiction, Inform breaks away from C- or LISP-like languages in favour of natural language, and has for the last decade been the widest-used system of its kind in the world. Though devised for interactive story-telling, Inform has also been used in education, theoretical architecture and a surprising range of other fields. Graham has also authored several IF games, including Curses (1993) and Jigsaw (1995). A short autobiographical account of Graham’s life and his creation of Curses can be read here. Graham has published in the fields of computer science, pure mathematics, literary criticism and poetry. In recognition of his work as a scholarly editor, he is managing editor of Legenda, the imprint of the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA).

Selected works


Curses (1993)

Deja Vu (1993)

Balances (1994)

Jigsaw (1995)

The Meteor, the Stone and a Long Glass of Sherbet (as "Angela M. Horns", 1996)

The Tempest (1997)

Time and Dwarves (1998)

The Reliques of Tolti-Aph (2006)

IF Theory

"The Craft of Adventure: Five Articles on the Design of Adventure Games." IF Archive (1995)

The Inform Designer's Manual. Interactive Fiction Library, 2001.

"Natural language, semantic analysis, and interactive fiction." IF Theory Reader 141 (2006): 99-104.


Clark, Polly, Tim Kendall, and Graham Nelson. Singularities: Poems. Oxford: Hubble, 1997

Seed-ground : Oxford Poetry, 1910 - 2000. Oxford: Delates of the O.U.P., 2000