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2017 Robert Louis Stevenson Writing Fellows Announced

Published: 26 May 2017

Four Writers Awarded a Month-Long Residency in France

Scottish Book Trust today (Friday 26 May) announce that the four Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowships for 2017 have been awarded to Liz Lochhead, Nalini Paul, David Bishop and David Manderson.

The Fellowship was initiated in 1994 by Franki Fewkes, a Scottish Robert Louis Stevenson enthusiast, and is managed by Scottish Book Trust and supported by Creative Scotland. Intended to give writers a chance to escape the routine and distractions of their everyday lives to devote time to their writing, it provides residencies for four writers at the Hôtel Chevillon International Arts Centre at Grez-sur-Loing, France. Travel and accommodation costs are covered, plus a grant of £300 per week for living expenses.

Grez-sur-Loing is at the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau and was chosen because of its connections with Robert Louis Stevenson who first visited in 1875. It was there, at the Hôtel Chevillon, that he met his future wife Fanny Osbourne. Stevenson found both the place, and its community of writers and artists, highly attractive and he returned to Grez-sur-Loing for three successive summers.

Previous Fellows include Janice Galloway, Jo Clifford, James Robertson and Louise Welsh. The Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship is just one of the ways Scottish Book Trust supports writers. From the new writers and young writers’ programmes, to mentoring for established writers, as well as bringing authors into schools and communities through the Live Literature Fund, the charity works to promote the positive benefits of reading and writing all across the country.

Renowned poet and playwright Liz Lochhead’s residency takes place in June. She has published half a dozen full collections since her first best-selling book of poems in 1972 and, since the early 1980s, has been working in the theatre as a playwright of both original plays and adaptations of classics.

After the death of Edwin Morgan, she served a term as the second Makar, or National Poet of Scotland, from 2011 to 2016. Early in that year, at Buckingham Palace, she was awarded the ‘Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for 2015’.    

Her project at the residency in France will take direct inspiration from the location as she plans to work on a play about the – not initially very auspicious-sounding – meeting at the artists’ colony in Grez-sur-Loing between Robert Louis Stevenson and the 11-years-older American, Fanny Osbourne. Fanny was already unhappily married, an aspiring painter and destined to become his wife.

Liz Lochead, photo: Alastair Cook

Commenting on the Fellowship Liz Lochhead said: “I am beyond delighted about this chance I never otherwise would have had to work solidly for a whole month in the very place where the real events, which have inspired what will be my very freely fictionalised version, actually occurred.”

Also attending in June is Nalini Paul, a widely published poet based in Glasgow. Nalini was born in India and grew up in Canada, and says her childhood was tinged with a feeling of “otherness”. Her PhD at Glasgow University focused on Jean Rhys and she followed that by working as George Mackay Brown Writing Fellow in Orkney from 2009-10.

Since then she has worked on collaborative projects across art forms, including stage, visual art and film. She received a Tom McGrath Award for her work in progress, Beyond the Mud Walls, whichwas show-cased with Stellar Quines Theatre at the Traverse in 2016.

Nalini has had three pamphlets of her work published; the first, Skirlags, was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in 2010 and the most recent, The Raven’s Song, explores raven and crow myths from Orkney, Shetland and Canada. During her residency, Nalini plans to work on her first full collection of poetry, weaving in elements of ancient Indian poetry with her own life in India, Canada and Scotland.

Nalini Paul, photo: James J Coleman

Commenting on the Fellowship, Nalini Paul said: “I am thrilled to be chosen as one of the Robert Louis Stevenson fellows for 2017 and was utterly delighted when I received the phone call. Once the news sank in, I felt a sense of relief, excitement and validation: having a whole month to devote to one’s work, in a beautiful place and free of distractions, is a writer’s dream.”

David Bishop is an award-winning screenwriter and author of 20 published novels. Born and raised in New Zealand, he gained a Masters in Screenwriting with distinction from Edinburgh Napier University and now teaches on the MA Creative Writing programme there. His screenplay, Danny’s Toys, won first prize at the Page International Awards in Los Angeles. He has also written plays for Radio 4 and episodes of the BBC TV drama Doctors. David’s project is a novel set in Renaissance Florence where a captain working for the most powerful criminal court in the city finds that his sexuality makes him a criminal in the eyes of the law. David will attend the residence in July.

David Bishop, photo: Chris Scott

Commenting on the Fellowship, David Bishop said: “I’m honoured and, let’s not deny it, more than a little amazed to receive a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. I have spent more than a decade researching a historical novel that refused to leave my imagination, but never been able to set aside the time for it. Being an RLS Fellow gives me a whole month to write and read and think about nothing else. It’s a gift beyond words, but one I plan to repay with as many words as possible.”

David Manderson, from Glasgow, studied at St Andrews University then travelled for several years before returning home. He began writing in his teens and has run a creative writing magazine, a student film festival and in 2001 won a Scottish Arts Council New Writer’s Bursary. He has since published a novel, short stories and non-fiction, and is currently editing a volume of prisoners’ creative writing. David’s project for the residence, which he will attend in November, is his second novel and he hopes to complete the first draft of this during his time in France.  

David Manderson

Commenting on the Fellowship, David Manderson said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be chosen for the Fellowship. It’s come at exactly the right time for me. It’s a brilliant opportunity to move on with my writing and great encouragement for the future.”

Marc Lambert, CEO at Scottish Book Trust, said: “Congratulations to our four Fellows for 2017, we hope they all find their residencies an inspiring and creative opportunity. Each of them has an exciting project in place to work on and we are very pleased to be able to provide the time and space for these talented individuals to further their artistic goals. We look forward to see the results of their work in the future.”

Kaite Welsh, Literature Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is delighted to support another year of the Robert Louis Stevenson residency, a wonderful opportunity for writers to escape their daily routines and spend a month working in inspiring surroundings. With Scottish Book Trust we are able to bolster writers at all stages of their careers, from the New Writers Awards to projects like the RLS Fellowship which enables us to support established writers such as Liz Lochhead who have made an enormous contribution to Scottish literary culture. We eagerly await the novels, poetry and plays that will be written this year at Grez-sur-Loing.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

For more information, interviews or photographs of the Fellows, please contact Lindsay Clydesdale, Media and PR Manager at Scottish Book Trust, on 0131 524 0175 or Lindsay.Clydesdale@scottishbooktrust.com

About Scottish Book Trust
Scottish Book Trust is a national charity changing lives through reading and writing. We believe books and reading have the power to change lives. As a national charity, we inspire and support the people of Scotland to read and write for pleasure.

  • We give free books to every child in Scotland to ensure families of all backgrounds can share the joy of books at home.
  • We work with teachers to inspire children to develop a love of reading, creating innovative classrooms activities, book awards and author events.
  • We support Scotland’s diverse writing community with our training, awards and writing opportunities.
  • We fund a range of author events for the public to enjoy and promote Scottish writing to people worldwide.
  • We work for a Scotland where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive through literacy.

www.scottishbooktrust.com @scottishbktrust  www.facebook.com/scottishbktrust

About Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.

www.creativescotland.com @creativescots www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland