on 08-05-2014

Leading national creative writing charity Arvon is thrilled to announce the launch in May of their newly renovated writers’ centre in Shropshire, The Hurst. The former home of the playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter John Osborne has been transformed from a near derelict property to become a residential centre for Arvon.  Writers of all abilities, ages and backgrounds will come for week-long courses, tutored by some of the best known writers working today.

The Hurst sits in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Shropshire Hills and includes 26 acres of magnificent woodland. The 200 year old Georgian manor house has been sympathetically restored with an ecologically sustainable approach, including ground source heat pumps. For the first time, all course participants will have their own en-suite bedrooms, with shared spaces including a workshop space, at the centre of which is a spectacular specially commissioned table created by local craftsmen from locally sourced wood.

Creativity is a vital part of The Hurst history. Reminders of its previous life as the home of a working writer are dotted around the house, including John Osborne’s Oscar. It will also house the library of late poet and popular Arvon tutor Michael Donaghy.

Arvon’s chief executive, Ruth Borthwick comments, “We are delighted to be opening the doors of The Hurst to a new generation of writers. We are sincerely grateful to Arts Council England and everyone who has helped us over the ten years it has taken to get this far. Arvon’s vision is that everyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing. We will be welcoming people of all backgrounds, ages and ambitions to step over this threshold and find their voices “.

For nearly 50 years, Arvon’s residential creative writing courses have been linking successful authors with aspiring writers, and they are a significant and celebrated part of the British literary landscape. About a third of the residential weeks are with schools, young people and community groups. The charity also runs writing houses in Devon and Yorkshire.  Visiting tutors at Arvon throughout 2014 include Mark Haddon, Andrew Miller, Bernardine Evaristo, Jim Crace, Sinead Morrissey, Simon Armitage, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Willy Russell, Malorie Blackman and Melvin Burgess.  Bestselling author, Andrew Miller comments, “There are plenty of newcomers on the scene offering short courses for writers but Arvon remains in a class of its own. An Arvon course can change your life. It’s as simple as that”. This year, The Hurst presents over 40 courses across a wide range of writing disciplines to schools, groups and individuals.

The official launch of The Hurst will take place on 8th May for invited guests and press.

Notes to Editors:-

  • For more information on The Hurst, visit the Arvon website The Hurst’s director, Natasha Carlish, is available for interview. Follow Arvon on Twitter @arvonfoundation
  • Founded by John Fairfax and John Moat in 1968, Arvon produces an annual programme of residential courses for schools, groups and individuals at four rural writing houses in UK – in Devon, Inverness-shire, Shropshire and Yorkshire. Their 2014 adult programme covers a wide range of genres, for all levels of experience, from beginners to emerging and published writers. Courses include Starting to Write; Fiction; Poetry; Non-Fiction and Life Writing; Retreat with Yoga; Playwriting; Thriller Writing, Graphic Novel and many more.
  • The transformation of the Manor House at The Hurst was made possible by a substantial capital grant from Arts Council England; by generous donations from Arvon’s individual supporters; and grants from trusts and foundations, including substantial gifts from The Foyle Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation and J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust.”
  • At the heart of Arvon is the belief that anyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing and we are committed to welcoming anyone, regardless of background or financial means.  A fundamental element to Arvon’s work is the ability to offer grants and last year the foundation gave grants to a quarter of course participants.  Bespoke projects include (M)Other Tongues, working with multilingual young people, and Writing the Game, exploring creative writing with pupils by channelling their love football.
  • Arvon Board of Trustees are Nigel Pantling (Chairman), Patience Agbabi, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Sir Andrew Cahn KCMG, Tony Cohen, Kate Donaghy, Marion Gibbs CBE, Robert Hingley, Michael Symmons Roberts, Sophie Rochester, Meriel Schindler, Simon Trewin, Virginia Wedgwood
  • The Arvon Board of Patrons are Simon Armitage CBE, Lord (Melvyn) Bragg, Alan Brownjohn,
  • Lady Caroline Chichester-Clark, Dr David Cohen CBE, Carol Ann Duffy CBE, Jerry Hall, Carol Hughes, Baroness James of Holland Park OBE, Professor Sir Andrew Motion, David Pease MBE, Salman Rushdie FRSL, Wole Soyinka FRSL, Pete Townshend

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