Gladstone’s Library Launches Writer-in-Residence Scheme
Naomi Alderman is to be the first ever writer-in-residence at Gladstone’s Library. Built in 1902 to house the library of pioneering politican and celebrated Prime Minister William E. Gladstone, the Library has twenty-six recently renovated rooms and is the UK’s only residential library.
“We are committed to maintaining Gladstone's legacy of engagement with social, moral and spiritual questions by helping people reflect more deeply on the questions that concern them,” says Peter Francis, Warden of the Library. “This new scheme is an extension of that mission.”
This scheme will bring four writers to the Library for a month and each will enjoy full access to the Library. Says Alderman: "Like all writers, I think books are sacred. So all libraries are temples to my particular religion but few more so than the magnificent Gladstone's Library. I'm hoping some of Gladstone’s scholarly ethos - of studying broadly, thinking deeply and placing that in the real world - will rub off during my time there. And in the present, where the vital importance of liberal values is underappreciated, a reacquaintance with applied liberalism is more crucial than ever.”
Each writer will keep a blog about their stay, run a creative writing workshop and an ‘Evening With’ event. They will receive full board and lodging, travel expenses and a stipend of £100.00 per week.
Reflecting the heritage of the Library, these writers will be writing in the liberal (with a small ‘L’) tradition. Our working definition of 'liberal values' is intentionally broad - as broad as Gladstone’s interests: “ By liberal values, we mean: a commitment to freedom and social justice, tolerance and respect of difference, open-mindedness coupled with intellectual curiosity, generosity of spirit and a willingness to learn from others. These values are not aligned with any particular political party.”
Through reflection and writing, the four writers will help us redefine liberal values for the 21st century – their engagement might be critical, supportive or merely observant.
The writers are being chosen by four judges: Katy Guest, Literary Editor of the Independent on Sunday, Sathnam Sanghera, Times columnist and author of ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ and celebrated novelist and memoirist Rupert Thomson. They will be joined by Charlie Gladstone, great great grandson of William E. Gladstone. The scheme is the brainchild of writer and Salonierre Damian Barr.
Says Rupert Thomson: “When you read a novel or a short story you inhabit another person's consciousness. To step out of your own skin and into someone else's is a deeply humanising act. Reading makes you human. At its best, therefore, and in the most subtle and subterranean of ways, fiction can teach tolerance, empathy and compassion, and be a truly moral force. This scheme is a step towards that.”
Says Sathnam Sanghera: “As a child I would sometimes get confused between the words "librarian", "Liberian" and "liberal", so much so that I thought Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" was actually called "Librarian Girl". Indeed, this impression was so
deep that I actually thought the opening lyrics to the song ("Naku Penda Piya-Naku Taka/Piya-Mpenziwe"), actually stated "onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia, pens away" - just the kind of thing a librarian, my young mind thought, would say. If I’d had access to one of the many dictionaries in Gladstone's Library none of this would have been a problem.”
Submissions open Monday 13th June and close Mon 22nd August. For full rules, see below.
Rules for submission:
Would-be writers-in-residence must submit a one page CV/biog, a copy of their latest book, a 250 word max statement about their take on (re)defining ‘liberal values’ and 250 words max on the work that they plan to do at the Library (in addition to the public events). Submissions should be sent to Annette Lewis, Development Officer, Gladstone’s Library, Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3DF. We will not accept self-published authors. We will accept those who have published short-stories, non-fiction or e-published (but again, not self-published). No correspondence will be entered into. Entry is free and limited to one entry per author (you cannot enter under a pseudonym). Winners will be notified by the end of September and invited to a launch event at the National Liberal Club on 1st November. Winners agree to take part in publicity activity and abide by Library rules during tenure.