Purposes and Policy
what effect poverty has on the mind?’
Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own, 1928
The Trust was registered as a charity in 1995 and has been active since 2002. We appoint women over the age of 40 who need time in which to start, continue or complete interesting or innovative work in English dealing with any subject whatsoever.
The Trust is now well established and has hosted an almost uninterrupted series of writers since 2002. These have included novelists and short story writers, poets, film and television script writers and producers, a photography journalist, biographers, historians, a garden historian and a literary historian, a yoga practitioner, a fashion writer hat-maker, a theologian and performance artists. We collaborate on appointments and funding with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company. (See Residencies)
The Trust aims to appoint women of originality who may be tired and simply need time and peace. After 12 years’ operation, we are confident the Trust is unique, we believe it is needed and we know that the scheme works.
Criteria for appointment to a residency
Professionalism encompassing originality, ability, ambition and experience.
Need implying financial need, or political, medical or mental need or the need of many women for a period of domestic peace in which to work undisturbed.
The Trust became so inundated with applications that we have introduced a further requirement:
An agreed legal contract for publication, broadcast, performance or any other form of public dissemination, so that the work undertaken will emerge into the public domain and not remain in a bottom drawer merely as an intention. Writers are expected to be represented by an agent and to have the commitment of their publisher.
Writing in English. While the Trust welcomes applications from any woman living anywhere who writes in English, the practicalities of hosting people from outside the UK are difficult, albeit not impossible. We have occasionally accepted writers from the USA and New Zealand, but usually applicants are from the UK and Ireland.
However, in the manner of many human enterprises, circumstances occasionally mean that we modify our own rules, but this is extremely rare.
What we offer
The Trust provides Church Cottage in Clifford Chambers, a village within two miles of Stratford-upon-Avon. The Cottage is beside the Church. It is small, consisting of a lower and upper room each about 15 feet square. However, it is comfortable, private and well-appointed, with kitchen and work bench, television and a comfortable bedroom. There is also a tiny garden, access to another garden and a rowing boat on the nearby River Stour. The Trust pays all the running costs and there is broadband, Wifi, and a printer available. The resident’s time is her own entirely, there are no duties except to give the trustees a written report on leaving. Privacy is assured and pets are welcome.
Duration of residencies
This depends on the varied circumstances of our applicants. One writer came for three visits of three weeks each, another for two visits of three months each; some writers come back once or even twice. We try to accommodate the often complicated lives of our applicants, but residencies are usually for two or three months.
From April 2016, the Trust is administering the Skoyles Bursaries Fund, made available by the Foyle Foundation. We are now able to offer bursaries up to £1,000 per calendar month. This should be tax free (qualifying as a prize, not a salary or payment). Sometimes, we broker writer support from Arts Council England. Once annually we host a poet appointment made by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and we have also collaborated with the Royal Shakespeare Company. One way or another, writers who need money are supported.
Occasionally a writer has a need for peace and privacy to the extent they pay us a commercial rent. This is welcomed, but all financial arrangements with individuals are confidential.
Are we legal?
‘I was thinking of the safety and prosperity of one sex and the poverty and insecurity of the other‘. Ibid
Even after 80 years’ progress, gender equality is still not fully achieved. We shall offer residencies to men when earnings between men and women are equal according to national assessment and this, in common with various other gender specific institutions, makes us legally acceptable.
What do we get in return?
We require in return that residents acknowledge us in all published or performed work and give us a copy of the resulting book, film or recording. Also, that we are included in personal websites, with a link to our website, and on social media. These acknowledgements are obligatory.
How we find our writers
We have advertised three times, in 2002, 2007 and 2010; on these occasions we utilised every opportunity for press, media and Internet coverage. We advertise a closing date and make six appointments at a time. Since 2010, writers have tended to find us rather than us going to find them. If and when we advertise again, it will be through the expected outlets and on this website.
How our writers find us
Since 2002, the internet has expanded so dramatically that writers anywhere can find us at any time. And this is what happens; we are nowadays frequently approached directly for residencies and we appoint from these ad hoc enquiries. Sometimes joint appointments are made. We have occasionally used Church Cottage for purposes such as our researcher for the Trust’s 2013 publication Round the Square and Up the Tower.
See the page How to Apply
Ongoing applications and appointments
If you wish to be considered for a residency, and if you fulfil the criteria listed above, get in touch with us at any time. You can telephone, write or e-mail to present yourself and discuss your situation. If we are advertising, details will be carried on this website. We are usually booked at least four months ahead and sometimes more, so do not expect an immediate vacancy.
And above all….
We aim to appoint women of originality who may be tired and simply need time and peace. After 12 years’ operation, we are confident we are unique, we believe we are needed and we know that the scheme works.
Ultimate aims and intentions
Further to maintaining our current annual programme of hosting about six writers per year, we would like to buy more property and create residencies for visual artists and composers. This depends upon capital and this is difficult, though we hope, not impossible, to obtain.
In the long term, we wish to make the Trust operate in perpetuity. We are seeking possible partnership for this. If we fail to obtain permanent endowment funding on the retirement of our current secretary/founder (in about 2020) then all our assets at that time (property and contents) will be sold to create The Hosking Arts Prize. It is intended this should be awarded annually to older women of merit and need, alternating between the arts.
Quotations from A Room of One’s Own are by permission of the Society of Authors as the literary representatives of the estate of Virginia Woolf.