On 10th August 2015, a panel of judges met in London to decide which four applicants would be successful in their bid to win a month-long residency at the UK's only residential library as part of its increasingly competitive Writer in Residence scheme.
This year, submissions came in from around the world and typified a broad range of genres and forms. To qualify for consideration, all applicants had to submit a one-page biography, a copy of their most recent book (published in the last three years) and a short piece on (re)defining liberal values.
The 10 shortlisted titles from which the four winners were drawn were:
Susan Barker - The Incarnations (Doubleday)
Sue Hubbard - The Forgetting and Remembering of Air (Salt)
Rose Collis - Death in the City (Hanover Press)
Rebecca Farmer - Not Really (smith/doorstop)
Alyson Hallett - Suddenly Everything (Poetry Salzburg)
Jason Hewitt - The Dynamite Room (Simon & Schuster)
Tung-Hui Hu - Greenhouses, Lighthouses (Copper Canyon Press)
Amy Liptrot - The Outrun (Canongate)
Katharine Norbury - The Fish Ladder (Bloomsbury Circus)
Natasha Pulley - The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (Bloomsbury Circus)
This year the judging panel consisted of:
Freddie Baveystock - When not fulfilling his duties as a Trustee of Gladstone's Library, Freddie is Strategy Director of digital branding agency Rufus Leonard. He holds a DPhil in early 19th century American Literary Culture from the University of Oxford, wrote his thesis on the romance of nationalism, and from discussions we've had with him over dinner, is a great fan of the novelist Penelope Fitzgerald.
Richard Beard - Shortlisted for the Guardian's 'Not the Booker' prize 2015 for his most recent novel Acts of the Assassins (a book he describes as 'quantum fiction'), Richard is a writer, translator and the Director of The National Academy of Writing in London. He was Writer in Residence at Gladstone's Library in 2013.
Francesca Haig - Now a full-time novelist, Francesca was previously Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Chester. A successful poet while gaining her PhD from the University of Melbourne and becoming an academic, her move away from academia was prompted by the global publishing phenomenon caused by her dystopian novel The Fire Sermon, the first in a planned trilogy. Francesca remains close to her academic roots as Visiting Writing Fellow at the University of Chester.
Sarah Perry - Described by the Telegraph as 'a dazzling new talent', Sarah is the author of After Me Comes the Flood, a debut novel that was nominated for the Folio Prize 2015 and won the East Anglian Book Award 2014. Sarah gained her doctorate from Royal Holloway in 2012 before embarking on life as a full-time writer. She has written for the Guardian, Independent, and the Spectator; her second novel, The Essex Serpent, was published in July 2016.
Joining these were Gladstone's Library's Warden, Peter Francis, and its Director of Collections and Research, Louisa Yates.
Over the course of 2016, each Writer in Residence will blog about their stay, run creative writing workshops and host an 'Evening With' event. They will each receive full board and lodging, travel expenses and an honorarium of £100 per week. The dates of the tenures are February, May, September and November 2016.
The four winners of the Writer in Residence 2016 programme will be announced at the Library's annual summer literature festival, Gladfest, which takes place 4th -- 6th September 2015 throughout the Library and its grounds.
The scheme will be officially launched at an exclusive salon at London's National Liberal Club on 12th October, where the four winners will read from their work, accompanied by previous Writers in Residence. Details on this event will follow.