Writers awarded Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship
Five Scottish-based writers have been awarded the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, giving them the opportunity to spend at least one month at the Hôtel Chevillon at Grez-sur-Loing in France to concentrate on a new writing project. The successful Fellows were announced today - Monday 3 December – marking the anniversary of Stevenson’s death in 1894.
The successful writers are:
David Leddy - a playwright based in Glasgow who intends to use his time in Grez-sur-Loing to branch out in a new direction and write a series of short stories.
Raman Mundair - writer, poet, playwright, live artist and visual artist. Raman was born in India and grew up in Manchester but is now based in Shetland. She hopes to use the residency to do more intensive research for a novel based on Amrita Sher-Gil and Inayat Khan, two Indian women - one an artist, the other a spy for the British - who lived and worked in France just before and during the Second World War.
James Robertson - acclaimed novelist, poet and short story writer who hopes the residency will provide breathing space to work on new poetry.
Eleanor Thom - up-and-coming writer based in Glasgow whose first novel The Tin-Kin won the New Writing Ventures Fiction award. She hopes to spend her time in France researching for new work.
Brian Whittingham - poet, fiction writer, editor and playwright and ex- steelworker/ draftsman, born and lives in Glasgow. He wants to use his time to focus on a work of fiction for which he has the characters and ideas but now needs time to develop. The tunnels of thought are shorter with poetry than they are with stories or novels so this time at Grez will be most welcome and he hopes to 'travel in the mind'.
The Fellowship is run by the Scottish Arts Council and supported by the National Library of Scotland, and is now in its twelfth year. The Fellowship provides writers with the opportunity to spend at least a month concentrating on developing their writing, providing essential time and space away from every-day commitments to concentrate on their creativity.
The successful writers were selected on the basis of the quality of their work and the usefulness of the residency to their creative development. They were chosen by an expert judging panel which included previous RLS Fellows Janice Galloway and Chris Dolan, and representatives from the Scottish Arts Council and National Library of Scotland.
The writers will be heading out to France at various stages throughout summer 2008, following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, who frequently visited the Hôtel Chevillon during the 1870s. More recently the Hôtel Chevillon has been turned into an international arts centre run by The Foundation Grez-sur-Loing in Sweden part of the Stiftelsen Organisation in Sweden. The Hôtel provides the ideal accommodation and setting to provide writers and artists with creative space.
Commenting on this year's fellowships Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council said: ‘The strength and diversity of writers selected for this year’s RLS Fellowships are testament to the breadth of literary talent in Scotland – in recent years the number of Fellowships offered has increased greatly.
‘The vast majority of contemporary writers have to juggle their writing time with a range of other work and family commitments, so being offered this creative space is invaluable. Equally importantly, in following the footsteps of the great Francophile and cosmopolitan Robert Louis Stevenson, they carry the torch of Scottish literature’s strong international dynamic’.
NLS Director of Collection Development Cate Newton said: “It was a great pleasure to take part in the selection committee for the RLS awards. The standard, range and number of entries were extremely high this year so the judging process was a difficult but most enjoyable experience.”
In response to the news that they were to become the 2007 Robert Louis Stevenson Fellows the writers made the following statements:
“Over time, my plays have made more and more literary references. People also often notice that I regularly choose to write in monologue rather than dialogue. So, I'm looking forward to going to Grez and using the time to branch out in a slightly new direction by writing a series of short stories. I also plan to eat lots of gateaux from the local patisserie and come back fat as a cochon.”
“I’m delighted to be awarded a Fellowship and it’s enormously exciting to know that I’ll be in Grez and following in the footsteps of Stevenson - I’m sure the spirit of Louis and Fanny will offer me much inspiration. I’m very much looking forward to living and working in France and my time there will be invaluable opportunity to research, develop my ideas and write, write, write.”
"I am thrilled to receive one of these Fellowships, not only because I have huge affection and respect for Stevenson but because it will give me a breathing-space to explore areas of my work that, for want of time, I have had to put aside for some while. In particular, I want to work on new poetry that is rooted in Scotland but crosses linguistic and international boundaries - a project that I hope may reflect something of Stevenson's own spirit of wanderlust."
“A few years ago, a strange chain of events led me to a derelict sweetie factory in France, a place so sticky with stories I felt I could peel sentences from the walls. The fellowship will allow me to complete research there as the basis for fiction. It’s something I couldn’t have done without support, and I am very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.”
'I have no doubt that the RLS Fellowship opportunity will be pivotal in being positive for me as a writer. I am very interested in, and have written about, the French Impressionist movement, that has so many connections with Fontainebleau and Paris, and this will be a further source of stimulation.'
Notes to editors1. Quotes and biographies from each of the winning writers are attached below
2. Photographs of the writers are available on request.
3. The Hôtel Chevillon
Stevenson frequently visited The Hôtel Chevillon at Grez-sur-Loing, situated at the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau, during the 1870s and it was there that he met his future wife Fanny Osbourne. Ever since Stevenson’s day there has been a well-established community of writers and artists in the town and more recently, because of the Swedish connection (August Strindberg and Carl Larsson, among others, spent time there), a Swedish consortium bought and restored the Hôtel Chevillon and created an international arts centre.
Hotel Chevillon is run by The Foundation Grez-sur-Loing in Sweden www.grez-stiftelsen.se
4. The Scottish Arts Council serves the people of Scotland by fostering arts of excellence through investment, development, research and advocacy. Our corporate aims are: to support artists to fulfil their creative and business potential; to increase participation in the arts; and to place the arts, culture and creativity at the heart of learning. We invest £60m each year, including £15 million of National Lottery funding. For more information visit: www.scottisharts.org.uk
5. The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and is the world’s leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture.
6. The Library holds well over 13 million items, including printed items, approximately 100,000 manuscripts and nearly 2 million maps. Every week it collects approximately 6,000 new items via Legal Deposit. The collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, official publications, business information, science and technology, and the modern and foreign collections. For more information please visit www.nls.uk
Issued by: Scottish Arts Council