Currently into its sixth year, Gladstone’s Library’s competitive Writer in Residence programme was established in association with Damian Barr (saloniere and author of Maggie and Me) to explore and define liberal values in the twenty-first century. The programme provides space and resources - a month's stay at the UK's only residential library - for four writers whose work engages with liberal values. By liberal values, we do not mean views aligned with any particular political ideology. 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.
Four places will be awarded. The dates of the tenures are February, May, September and November 2016, but these can be negotiated; if you would like less than a month, for example, please ask in your covering letter. During the residency writers deliver an evening event and a day's masterclass on any aspect of the writing process. These usually take place on the first Tuesday and final Saturday of the residential month. We also ask that two blog posts are submitted either before or during the residency.
Founded by Gladstone in 1894, the Library is committed to maintaining his legacy of engagement with social, moral and ethical questions by helping people reflect more deeply on the questions that concern them. It does not claim to provide any of the answers but it does offer a comfortable, sociable and stimulating environment together with unparalleled resources for creative study including renowned collections of historical, cultural, theological and political materials: 33,000 books come from Gladstone’s own library and many contain annotations made by Gladstone himself.
Through reflection and writing during their stay, Writers in Residence help us redefine liberal values for the twenty-first century. Their engagement might be critical, supportive or merely observant. Gladstone was a polymath with interests ranging widely across religion, history, social justice and politics from Classical times to what was then contemporary culture. The scope of these four residencies is equally wide and we welcome fiction and non-fiction writers. Gladstone read on average five books a week so you can be sure that the Library has something to offer you. The connections he made between the various disciplines he delved into helped shape his particular form of liberalism.
Gladstone's Library is unique – it is the only residential library in the United Kingdom. It provides a meeting place dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning for open-minded individuals and groups who are looking to explore pressing questions and to pursue study and research in an age of distraction and easy solutions. All are welcome at the Library regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. The Writer in Residence is expected to be at ease with this inclusive ethos.
'You are looked after well - the food is delicious, the accommodation, with writing desk, is comfortable, quiet and spotless. But it is the library that drew me, [...] I wrote so much, and am sure the magic will work again' (Vanessa Gebbie, 2013)