Author profile

Anna Katharina Schaffner

Dr. Anna K. Schaffner is a coach, writer and Professor of Cultural History at the University of Kent.

Anna Schaffner LinkedInDr. Anna K. Schaffner is a coach, writer and Professor of Cultural History at the University of Kent.

Although Dr. Shaffner’s academic background is in literature, her latest non-fiction book is on the long history of the idea of self-improvement. The book covers the literature of self-improvement ranging from ancient China to the present day.

Her writing has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Psychology Today, AEON and PSYCHE. Her research has been discussed in national and international media, including by BBC Radio 4 and WBUR, as well as in Vogue, the Atlantic, National Geographic, Philosophie Magazine, the TLS, de Volkskrant and New Republic.

In her coaching practice, Anna specialises on working with the exhausted and combines state-of-the-art and science-based coaching techniques (especially ACT) with tried-and-tested ancient wisdom.


Education, Titles, and Degrees

  • 2019: mBIT Coach, Canterbury
  • 2012-2013: Foundation Course in Psychoanalysis, Institute of Psychoanalysis, London
  • 2001-2006: Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of Edinburgh
  • 2000-2001: MSc in Comparative Literature, University of Edinburgh
  • 1997-2000: Intermediate Exam in English and American Studies, Humboldt Universitaet, Berlin


First- and Second-Author Publications

Dr. Anna is the author of and The Art of Self-Improvement: Ten Timeless Truths (Yale University Press, 2021).

Her previous book was on the history of exhaustion (‘Exhaustion: A History‘, Columbia University Press, 2016).

She also published a novel (‘The Truth About Julia‘, Allen & Unwin, 2016), various academic works and journalism, and she is editor-in-chief of the Emerge website.

For an extensive list of all her publications, please see:


A Personal Message From Dr. Anna

In addition to being a writer and a researcher with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, I am also a qualified coach. All my life, I have been torn between a love of literature and writing and psychology. I have now found a way to bring these interests together.

I have written academic and journalistic texts for two decades and published a novel and a range of non-fiction books. I review for the TLS, and, in addition to writing for, I also write a regular blog for PsychologyToday.

– Dr. Anna Schaffner

You can visit her website here.