Writers in Residence 2012

Ian Parks’ first collection of poems was published in 1986 and he has since held several residencies and Fellowships which include a residency at North Riding College, Scarborough from 1986 to 1988, a Hawthornden Fellowship in 1991, a Travelling Fellowship to the USA in 1994 as well as his residency here at Gladstone’s Library in November 2012. His poems have appeared in Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Review, The London Magazine, The Liberal, and The Observer, and have also been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. He has taught creative writing at the universities of Sheffield, Hull, Oxford, and currently teaches at Leeds University. 

"I loved my time at the library. I took away something practical in the form of a collection of poems which I wrote mainly while I was in residence there. It's called Citizens and is due out late 2017 from Smokestack Books. More than that I took away an internalised sense of an important debate about the very nature and future of liberalism which is ongoing at the library. It changed the way I thought in a positive and challenging way.

My residency at Gladstone's Library gave me freedom - to think, write, debate, and learn. An unforgettable experience."

Click here to read a Q&A with Ian about his residency.

Nadene Ghouri is a journalist, writer and presenter. A regular voice on BBC Radio 4 current affairs, Nadene has worked on programmes such as Crossing Continents and The Report. A founding member of the Afghan foreign press association, Nadene has twice been shortlisted for journalist of the year at the One World Media Awards. Nadene is the author of Born in to the Children of God (2014) and co-author of The Favored Daughter (2012).

Naomi Alderman’s first novel Disobedience was published in 2006 in ten languages, and won her the Orange Prize for New Writers. In 2007, she was Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, as well as one of Waterstones' 25 Writers for the Future. Disobedience and her second novel, The Lessons, were read on BBC radio's Book at Bedtime. Penguin published her third novel, The Liars' Gospel, in August 2012. Her prize-winning short fiction has appeared in Prospect, on BBC Radio 4 and in a number of anthologies. Naomi also writes online computer games and from 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the BAFTA-shortlisted alternate reality game Perplex City. In 2008, she wrote Alice in Storyland for Penguin's online project We Tell Stories, and in 2012, she co-created the top-selling fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run! which went to the top of the iTunes chart and received rave reviews. In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, and in 2011, she published a Doctor Who novel for the BBC called Borrowed Time. Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4. In 2012 and 2013, Naomi has been mentored by Margaret Atwood as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and in April 2013 she was named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in their once-a-decade list. 

Stella Duffy was a Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library in May 2012. She has written 13 novels including her latest, The Purple Shroud. Amongst her 13 novels, The Room of Lost Things and State of Happiness were both long-listed for the Orange Prize. Aside from her novels, Stella Duffy has also written more than 50 short stories and 10 plays, including several for BBC Radio 4. She has a series of awards under her belt that include the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2002 (Martha Grace) and 2013 (Come Away With Me), and she was named the Stonewall Writer of the Year in 2008 (The Room of Lost Things) and 2010 (Theodora). She wrote and presented the BBC4 documentary ‘How to Write a Mills and Boon’, reviewed for The Review Show (BBC2), Front Row (BBCRadio4) and written articles for major newspapers in the UK. As well as her writing work she is a theatre director and performer, and is currently working on a new stage play for Three Legged Theatre.

"I was worried about being away from home for a full month – I see that the Library is now offering two week residencies, which I’m sure is very useful for some people, but I also have to say that making the commitment to the full month was hugely useful for me."

Click here to read a Q&A with Stella about her residency.

Writers in Residence 2013

Angela Topping is a poet and took up a residency at Gladstone’s Library in October 2013. Angela is the author of 10 solo poetry collections and pamphlets, published by Stride, Bluechrome, Salt and Rack Press. She is a full time freelance poet as well as writing reviews, and criticism for Greenwich Exchange. Angela is also an experienced teacher and holds Masters Degrees in English Literature and in Arts in Education. She leads workshops with young people to the elderly, with an aim to build confidence in their own ability to write and tell stories. Two of her books are for children and she has co-authored three books on poetry at GCSE level for OUP. Her poems have also been set for A-level and have appeared in a range of magazines including Poetry Review, London Magazine, Agenda, The Interpreters House and others. She was Highly Commended in the Cheshire High Sherriff’s Prize for Children’s Literature, and in 2011, she was shortlisted for The Bridport Poetry Competition. In 2013, she won first prize in the Buzzwords Poetry Competition, judged by David Morley.

"Gladstone’s Library is a home from home. Silence in the library fosters writing; chat over dinner fosters friendships. I gained a great deal from my residency and am often drawn back to this special place."

Katrina Naomi was a writer in residence at Gladstone’s Library in 2013. Katrina is a poet, tutor and poetry mentor. Her poetry has appeared in The TLS, The Poetry Review and The Spectator as well as on BBC Radio 4. Katrina’s first full collection The Girl with the Cactus Handshake was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award and received an Arts Council England writer’s award. Her pamphlet Charlotte Bronte's Corset was published by the Bronte Society, and written during Katrina’s time spent as the Bronte Parsonage Museum's first Writer in Residence. Her pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant & Castle won the 2008 Templar Poetry Competition. Moreover, her most recent pamphlet, Hooligans, was inspired by the Suffragettes and was launched by Rack Press in London this February. She received a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths in 2014 and an award from the Royal Literary Fund. She was a 2015 Hawthornden Fellow.

"I always tell my mentees to read, read, read. And I had this opportunity here and I took it. I loved the research I was able to do and I loved the library. And I wrote a hell of a lot, far more than I expected to. I'd gone to research the lives of several Suffragettes but I ended up doing all of that and writing enough poems to form the pamphlet Hooligans, based on this research, which went on to be published by Rack Press in 2015." 

Peter Jukes is a British screenwriter and journalist. Through his TV appearances and regular columns on the Daily Beast website and in Newsweek, he has become one of the UK’s most authoritative commentators on the News International phone hacking scandal and the Leveson inquiry. Prior to that he wrote regularly on the links between culture and politics for the Independent, New Statesman and Prospect magazine, and as a high-profile contributor to US political blogs. He is also an award winning dramatist for stage, radio and television, whose credits include Matador, In Deep, Bad Faith, Waking the Dead, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Sea of Souls. His account of living in the modern city, A Shout in the Street (Faber & Faber, 1990) was called ‘a dream of a book’ by John Berger. He lives in London. 

Richard Beard has published five novels including X 20 A Novel of (not) Smoking, Dry Bones and Damascus, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In 2008 he was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award and in 2010 longlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. His latest novel is Lazarus is Dead (2011). Richard Beard is Director of The National Academy of Writing. 

"My one concern was that I knew very little about William Gladstone. Fortunately, there’s no test on Victorian politics when applying!"

A winner of the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, Sarah Perry holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway University, for which she was awarded an English Doctoral Studentship and studied under the supervision of Sir Andrew Motion. Her short fiction was published in the anthology Bedford Square 2 in 2006, and she has written on food, law and the arts for a number of publications including the Spectator. Her first novel After Me Comes the Flood, published in 2014 by Serpent’s Tail, won the East Anglian Book of the Year award 2014 and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2014 and the Folio Prize 2015. Her second novel, The Essex Serpent, was published in July 2016.

Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist, short fiction writer, editor, teacher and poet. She is contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story, editions 1 and 2 (Salt). Her short fiction collections are Words from a Glass Bubble and Storm Warning (both Salt), Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (Liquorice Fish) and A Short History of Synchronised Breathing (forthcoming, Cultured Llama). Her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was a Financial Times novel of the year. She has won awards for both fiction and poetry, including a Bridport Prize and the Troubadour Prize, and her poetry pamphlet The Half-life of Fathers (Pighog) was selected by the Times Literary Supplement among the best of 2014. Her latest poetry collection, Memorandum, Poems for the Fallen, is the inspiration for a four-woman exhibition touring Sussex churches, commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in painted glass, letter-cutting, photography and words.  

Writers in Residence 2014

Judy Brown was the winner of the Manchester Poetry Prize (2010), the Poetry London Competition (2009) and the Hamish Canham Poetry Prize (2005). Judy was also Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust for 2013. Her collection of poetry, Loudness (Seren, 2011), was shortlisted for the 2011 Forward/Felix Dennis award and in the Fenton Aldeburgh prizes for best first collection in 2012. Her pamphlet, Pillars of Salt (Templar, 2006), won Templar Poetry’s pamphlet competition and her poems have appeared in several newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, The Spectator and the New Statesman as well as in a range of anthologies.

"It’s impossible to overstate the value of my month at Gladstone’s Library. It offered the perfect combination of safety and discovery. The Library is a wonderful place run by wonderful people where you find some precious things: time to write and study; much inspiration; unfailing kindness; good conversation when you need it; and a careful delicacy which allows you to work as you choose. Pleasure is rarely so unmixed!"

Click here to read a Q&A with Judy about her residency.

Lesley McDowell was our Writer in Residence for May 2014, and is an author and critic living in Scotland. She earned a PhD for work on James Joyce and feminist theory before turning to literary journalism. Lesley has written fiction, The Picnic (Black and White, 2007) and her second book, Between the Sheets (Overlook Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Awards 2011 (non-fiction). Her third book and second novel, Unfashioned Creatures was published in November 2013. 

"The month I spent at Gladstone’s was one of the best experiences of my life. The people working there were always friendly but never crowded me. The library was both a haven and a useful resource, and the setting of the library was a surprise, too – it wasn’t as isolated as I thought, whilst also surrounded by beautiful countryside. I also thought it was a particularly woman-friendly space. It may be ‘Gladstone’s’, but often older buildings like this are swamped with pictures of elder statesmen that can make women feel as though they shouldn’t be there, or that they’re breaking into some male citadel! But Gladstone’s didn’t feel like that at all to me. I felt as though I had a right to be there, and that the library thought I had, too!"

Click here to read a Q&A with Lesley about her residency.

Peter Moore (March 2014), is a visiting lecturer at City University and writer of historical fiction. His debut novel, Damn His Blood (Chatto & Windus, 2012) which explores the dark murder of a Reverend in the early 19th Century, has been described as channelling Hardy in its cast of characters and expertly weaves the truth of the past into a gleefully twisted, bloody and thrilling fiction. Peter’s writing has been featured on BBC Radio 4 and he has written articles for the Guardian.

Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library for February 2014 was Rebecca Abrams. Rebecca is a columnist and author of Touching Distance (for which she was shortlisted for the 2009 McKitterick Prize and won the 2009 Medical Journalists’ Association Award for Fiction) and several successful non-fiction titles including: Three Shoes, One Sock & No Hairbrush, a guide for second-time parents; The Playful Self: Why Women Need Play in their LivesWoman In A Man’s World and the critically acclaimed When Parents Die (shortlisted for the MIND award).

"My time as a Gladstone’s Library Writer in Residence was hugely important. It came at a very difficult time in my life when I was struggling to make progress with my writing. The residency gave me everything I’d hoped for and more - a quiet, comfortable retreat where I could work as many hours each day as I wanted in a lovely environment without interruption and completely free from domestic chores. The library itself was a beautiful and inspiring place to read and write, and the rolling countryside around Hawarden was great for walking off the cobwebs - and the lunches! I also really enjoyed the company of the other writers and researchers I met during my residency. The lively discussions over supper about everything from plot structure and characterisation to the correct way to cut cheese were a pleasure all of their own."

Melissa Harrison (Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library 31st January – 14th February 2014), is a writer, photographer and winner of the 2010 John Muir Trust’s Wild Writing Award. Her debut novel, Clay (Bloomsbury, 2013), was chosen for Amazon’s Rising Stars programme and shortlisted for the Portsmouth First Fiction award. The novel explores the balance of life within a city and deconstructs binary opposites such as young and old, nature and development and recklessness and caution. Melissa also contributes to The Times’ weekly Nature Notebook column, reviews books for the Weekend FT and Slightly Foxed, and writes about urban wildlife at www.talesofthecity.co.uk. Melissa’s second novel, At Hawthorn Time, was published by Bloomsbury in April 2015.

"At first, I hesitated to apply for the residency because at that early stage in my career I didn't yet feel like a "proper writer"; I wasn't sure if the Library would be full of "proper writers" and academics, and whether I'd fit in. I'm so glad I did, though: there were all sorts of people there, and I felt welcome straight away. I got a huge amount of writing done, and three years later I visit often and still consider Gladstone's my home-from-home."

Patricia Bracewell (Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library from 27th October – 10th November 2014) is a Californian born author and the author of historical fiction debut Shadow on the Crown (Viking Adult, 2013). Based on real events and as the first instalment of a trilogy, Shadow on the Crown delves into the lives of Emma of Normandy and King Æthelred the Unready and introduces readers to a previously unexplored chapter of English history. The sequel, The Price of Blood, was released in 2015. 

"I had my doubts about my qualifications, to be sure. What were the chances of someone like me, a debut author with, at the time, only one book in print, being considered for such a prestigious award? Aside from that, I did not even know if Americans were eligible. (Upon inquiring, I learned that Americans would be most welcome.)"

Click here to read a Q&A with Patricia about her residency.

Neil Griffiths was a Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library from 27th January to 10th February 2014. Neil is the author of two novels. His debut novel, Betrayal in Naples (Penguin) was the winner of the Authors' Club Best First Novel, and his second, Saving Caravaggio (Penguin), was shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year. 

Tania Hershman is the author of two story collections: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008; commended, 2009 Orange Award for New Writers). Tania's award-winning short stories and poetry have been widely published in print and online and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. Tania was a 2014 Gladstone's Library Writer in Residence, judge of the 2014 Bridport Flash Fiction Prize, and founder and curator of ShortStops (www.shortstops.info): a website celebrating short story activity across the UK & Ireland. Tania is also the founding editor of The Short Review, an online journal spotlighting short story collections. In 2014 Tania became the Royal Literary Fund fellow at Bristol University and she is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, exploring the intersection between fiction and particle physics. She is co-writer of the Writers and Artists Book of the Short Story, which was published by Bloomsbury in December 2014.

Adnan Mahmutovic was a Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library from 20th January to 3rd February 2014. Adnan was formerly a Bosnian war refugee, and is now a lecturer and Writer in Residence at the Department of English at Stockholm University. His fiction explores contemporary European history and the issues of identity and home for Bosnian refugees.  His work includes: short fiction, How to Fare Well and Stay Fair (Salt, 2012); novel length fiction, Thinner than a Hair (Cinnamon Press, 2010); academic writing, Ways of Being Free (Rodopi, 2012) and film, Guzul.

"For me one of the best things was the way the place affected me. As a writer who is also a refugee I’m drawn to places which feel like home. It’s not something you can plan. In fact, if you carry a fear that no place will feel like home it’s very hard to find one. For this reason, I was so surprised by Gladstone’s Library. I hardly even went for a walk during my residency. I just couldn’t get enough of it."

Writers in Residence 2015

Jessie Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist, was published in July 2014 and spent over two months in the Sunday Times Top Ten. Her road to publication spans 6 years, starts with one rejected manuscript, contains 17 drafts, and ends up with a book now sold in 32 languages.

A Gladstone’s Library Writer in Residence for 2015, Sarah Butler is a novelist, with an accompanying practice in socially-engaged, place-specific writing. Sarah describes herself as being interested in the relationships between stories, places and communities. Her writing explores the themes of identity, belonging, landscape and home, particularly in an urban context. Sarah’s first novel, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love, was published by Picador in 2012 and in fifteen other countries as well. Her next novel, Before The Fire, will be published in 2015.

"I loved my time at Gladstone’s Library. It is a genuine and precious gift to offer a writer time in such a beautiful, peaceful place to focus on their work and nothing else. And the endless supply of scones and chocolate puddings helped too!"

Rachel Holmes is the author of Eleanor Marx: A Life, serialised on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and rated one of the best reads of 2014 by The Telegraph. Holmes is also the author of The Hottentot Venus: The life and death of Saartjie Baartman and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry. In 2013 Holmes co-edited, with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach, their much-discussed Fifty Shades of Feminism, She was co-commissioning editor of Sixty Six Books: 21st Century Writers Speak to the King James Bible (Oberon, 2011) with Josie Rourke and Chris Haydon. In 2010 she received an Arts Council cultural leadership award as one of Britain’s Fifty Women to Watch.

Pascale Petit is a French/Welsh poet living in London. Her latest collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. A portfolio of poems from the book won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize and the manuscript won an Arts Council England award. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year. Her two previous books, The Zoo Father and The Huntress, were also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Pascale’s books have been books of the year in the TLS, Independent and Observer.

"I took from the residency a very warm feeling that every moment I was there I was supposed to be working on my book, and shouldn’t do anything else. I had a beautiful room I could hide away in and write; I had a beautiful desk in the library, earmarked as my own for the month, where I could write, though it was more like a world I created between the bookshelves; I had spots in the garden and abutting cemetery where I sat each morning very early, in mist or sun, scribbling then walking down the steep paths; there were grounds nearby where I could go for longer walks to clear my head if needed, where I felt safe; there were comfy settees, a fire, company and wine in the evenings if I wanted. The retreat made me feel safe and supported exploring difficult material, and I came away with a crucial part of Mama Amazonica written."

Click here to read a Q&A with Pascale about her residency.

Wendy Cope read history at Oxford University and taught in London primary schools for fifteen years. She has been a freelance writer since 1986, when her first book of poems, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, was published. Her fourth and most recent collection of poems, Family Values, appeared in April 2011. She has also written for children and edited several anthologies. Her work has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2010 she was appointed OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

"Gladstone's Library is a great place to work and an enjoyable place to stay. The library is beautiful. I liked the combination of peace and quiet in the daytime and good company at mealtimes and in the evenings (although you don't have to be sociable if you don't want to). And, of course, it's a luxury to have all your meals provided and no domestic chores. My only concern about the residency was having to do a workshop but that turned out to be painless. It might be worth adding that the library, unlike Hawthornden Castle, is within easy walking distance of shops and a pub. And there is Wi-Fi."

Lachlan Mackinnon has published four collections of poetry, two critical books and a biography. Small Hours (2010) was shortlisted for the Forward prize, and in 2011 he received a Cholmondeley Award. He reviews regularly in the national press and taught at Winchester College for 30 years.

"It doesn’t matter who you are, how shy or unconfident, you will find a warm and unintrusive welcome here. You will also meet a variety of people, younger and older, united in their belief in reading, writing and thinking. And some very good food. You will find all the advantages of institutional living without its feeling like an institution—an amazing achievement by everyone there."

Robyn’s novel The Anchoress won the Varuna LitLink NSW Byron Bay Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2010. A ‘slightly revised incarnation’ is due to be published in 2015. Her book of poetry i painted unafraid won the Friendly Street Poets Single Poet Competition. A short play Artemisia, about Artemisia Gentileschi, has been performed at Adelaide Fringe and at the Sydney and Melbourne Short+Sweet Festival. 

Writers in Residence 2016

Natasha Pulley lives with her family near Ely, in the fens. She studied English Literature at Oxford University, where she first had the idea for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. After graduating, Natasha taught English in China for six weeks. It was there that she learned what being a foreigner is. After stints working at Waterstones as a bookseller over Christmas, then at Cambridge University Press as a publishing assistant in the astronomy and maths departments, she did the Creative Writing MA at UEA. When not writing (which is almost never) she likes reading. She loves ghost stories and historical fiction. At the moment she is making her way through as much Japanese literature as she can get her hands on, and she’s learning Japanese (slowly). She writes because fiction is a much more exciting place than the real world, in which you must buy milk and understand Microsoft Excel. 

Rebecca Farmer’s pamphlet ‘Not Really’ was a winner in the 2013/14 Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition judged by Carol Ann Duffy. She was born in Birmingham and her parents both came from Dublin. She read Drama at Manchester University and has an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths. Her poems have appeared in various magazines including The London Magazine, The North, Poetry Review, The Rialto, Smiths Knoll, Under the Radar and The Warwick Review. Rebecca is currently a PhD student at Goldsmiths and is researching the work of Louis MacNeice.

In 2011, Amy Liptrot returned to Orkney for three years after more than a decade living and working as a journalist in London and Edinburgh. During this time, she became increasingly interested in writing about the natural world and island life, including local folklore and history. For the last eight months Amy has been living and writing in Berlin and returns to the UK in October. Amy works as a freelance writer and has recently published essays on urban hawks, the moon, Google Maps and being an islander. Amy’s first published novel is called The Outrun and will be published by Canongate in January 2016. It is a memoir about her rediscovery of the Orkney Islands where she grew up.

Susan Barker grew up in east London. She studied philosophy at the University of Leeds and creative writing at the University of Manchester. She is the author of the novels Sayonara Bar (2005) and The Orientalist and the Ghost (2008), both published by Doubleday (UK) and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. Her third novel The Incarnations (Doubleday, July 2014) is about a taxi driver in contemporary Beijing and interwoven with tales from the Tang Dynasty, the invasion of Genghis Khan, the Ming Dynasty, the Opium War, and the Cultural Revolution. While writing The Incarnations, Susan spent several years living in Beijing, researching modern and imperial China.

"I count myself immensely lucky to have been a Writer in Residence at Gladstone's Library – it was such a productive, energising and fun experience. The library itself is amazing, the people I met really lovely and interesting, and the opportunity to focus on my fiction uninterruptedly for a month was bliss. I was so moved by the generosity of the residency and the kindness and helpfulness of everyone involved in running it. Gladstone’s Library is a uniquely wonderful place."

Writers in Residence 2017

William Atkins works as a freelance editor. Published in 2014, The Moor is a literary travel book which has been described as ‘nature writing’ but is equally a social and cultural history of England’s upland landscapes. William’s forthcoming book, The Desert, involved travel to the troubled Xinjiang region of northwest China, Kazakhstan’s depleted Aral Sea, the Maralinga nuclear test-zone in southern Australia and the borderlands of southern Arizona.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a Japanese-British-Chinese-American author whose writing has appeared in TriQuarterly and the Tin House Open Bar. Her debut novel, Harmless Like You, is about the complexities of identity, art, friendships and familial bonds.

Ruth Scurr is a writer, historian and literary critic. She teaches history and politics at Cambridge University where she is a Lecturer and Fellow of Gonville & Caius College. Ruth’s biography of John Aubrey was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Biography Prize.

Penny Boxall’s poetry has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Rialto and Tate Etc. Ship of the Line is Penny’s debut collection of poetry, and follows a wonderful trajectory from a taxidermist’s to a beetle inside her grandfather’s ear. She won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.

Writers in Residence 2018

Polly Atkin is a poet. Her debut collection 'Basic Nest Architecture' was published by Seren in 2017, having already been awarded New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize for a pre-publication extract. Polly’s pamphlet 'Shadow Dispatches' (2013) won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize in 2012, and her debut pamphlet Bone Song’ (2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 Michael Marks Award. Polly has taught English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University as well as the Universities of Strathclyde and Cumbria.

"My month at Gladstone's Library was one of the most productive I have ever experienced. The library is so beautiful and peaceful, and the staff so helpful, that you almost can't help but write. Added to this the inexhaustible supply of good books and delicious food, and the grounds of Hawarden Castle to stomp around on post-prandial thinks, and you've the perfect environment for getting stuck in to a writing project."

Rachel Malik is a freelance writer and higher education teacher, whose courses run at our fellow independent library, the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution. Her debut novel, Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves, was published by Penguin in 2017. For many years Rachel was Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Middlesex University; during her time there she published academic research in both journals and essay collections. Rachel lives in London, and is currently working on her second novel, Belvedere.

"Gladstone’s Library was transformative for me. I had written a novel but still didn’t really think of myself as a writer. That changed when I was there. It’s like an alternative version of a room of one’s own. You join a working life that's already happening - almost without thinking. By day two, one of my characters was learning to flying, quite literally, across the Italian Alps."

Cal Flyn is a writer, reporter and editor. For many years she worked in print and online media, before a move to freelance allowed her to move more formally into the literary world. Her work has been published in Granta, The Sunday Times Magazine, Aeon, and the New Statesman. Her debut book, Thicker than Water, was published by Harper Collins in 2016. Whatever the format, Cal’s writing betrays an interest in indigeneity and colonialism, a talent for memoir and an eye for nature.

Keggie Carew has found recent fame with the publication of her ‘shape-shifting’ memoir Dadland (2016). Before she began writing, Keggie’s career was in contemporary art. After travelling the world, Keggie settled in London where she ran an alternative art space and opened an unconventional pop-up shop in the East End. Keggie now lives near Salisbury with her husband Jonathan. Together they are establishing a nature reserve where they run educational workshops for underprivileged young people.