Many past Bursary recipients have gone on to achieve huge successes and acclaim; some of their stories are featured below.
“The Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary which I received in 2011 was essential in making My Family and Other Superheroes the collection it is. That opportunity for an extended immersion in poetry, reading, writing and thinking, and not having to worry about any distractions, was crucial to my development. A number of the poems in the collection, including the sequence about animals and many of the poems about Wales, were written during this period. It also allowed my style to evolve, giving me the opportunity to try out more ambitious forms, in a way that was so important to the poems I wrote after the period of the Bursary ended. As a writer in Wales, I think we are so lucky to have an organisation like Literature Wales, who are so supportive, generous and absolutely committed to sustaining the proud literary heritage of our country.”
Jonathan Edwards was awarded a New Writer’s Bursary in 2011. My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren) won the 2014 Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Arts Review People’s Prize in the 2015 Wales Book of the Year Award
“The fact that The Girl in the Red Coat was written with the help of a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary is very proudly stated in the acknowledgements. I feel very lucky to be an author in Wales, where writing is so supported and celebrated. A Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary not only buys time to write – it’s also a huge boost to the confidence that someone has faith in your work enough to support you early on.”
Kate Hamer was awarded a New Writer’s Bursary in 2011. Her debut novel, The Girl in the Red Coat is published by Faber & Faber and was shortlisted for the 2015 Costa First Novel Award.
Rebecca F. John
“Time can often be the greatest enemy of a new writer: finding it, I mean; buying it. We require so much of it and can so infrequently afford it. That’s one of the reasons why Literature Wales Bursaries are so important. My first short story collection was published in 2015 and my first novel will be published in 2017, but I was struggling to begin my next big project. I just didn’t have the hours.
The Writer’s Bursary I was lucky enough to receive has not only allowed me to delve into a story I so passionately want to present to my readers, it has also afforded me time to write, it has reassured me that I have something important to say, and that there is an audience out there who might want to listen. I feel very fortunate to belong to a country so keen to assist and celebrate its writers.”
Rebecca F. John was awarded a Published Writer’s Bursary in 2016, to work on her second novel. Her debut collection of short stories Clown’s Shoes was published by Parthian in 2015. In the same year, her short story ‘The Glove Maker’s Numbers’ was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. She is the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award 2015.
“In 2015 I was lucky enough to be awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary to work on my second poetry collection. The award meant that I was able to focus my writing time much more effectively, giving me the creative space to experiment and challenge myself to work in new ways. It was also a vote of confidence in my writing, and that’s worth a huge amount.”
Katherine Stansfield was awarded a Published Writer’s Bursary in 2015. She is currently working on her third novel, due out with Allison & Busby in 2018, and is an Associate Lecturer for the Open University.
“It bought me time to think. To dream. To write and really play around with words. But not only that. It bought me belief. Belief that I could actually have a career as an author.
When Literature Wales granted me a Writer’s Bursary I doubled my commitment to my writing. I saw it as a contract. They believed in me and my work, and I had to fulfill that belief.
I know now that I will never stop writing. Their support gave me so much more than a few months of time; it gave me a new perspective, a new challenge, and an opportunity to really change my life.”
Eloise Williams was awarded a 2015 New Writer’s Bursary. Her novel Gaslight was published by Firefly in 2015.
Ifan Morgan Jones
“My Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary was invaluable. It meant that I could finish my novel, Dadeni. Without it I couldn’t have taken time off work to complete the novel, and it wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Literature Wales made sure that the process was a smooth one and it was a delight to work with their professional staff. I encourage my fellow-authors to make the most of the opportunities that a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary can offer.”
Ifan Morgan Jones was awarded a Published Writer’s Bursary in 2015. His Welsh language novel Dadeni was published by Y Lolfa in 2017.
“Finding time to write while running a business and raising a family has always been an issue – being awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary for The Murder House enabled me to finish a first draft. Having all that time to write full-time was a dream come true and it was instrumental in giving me the confidence to finish the book. I went on to work with literary agent Juliet Mushens of Caskie Mushens and The Murder House has just been bought by Little, Brown as part of a two book deal and will be published as a lead title by Sphere in early 2019.”
Vanessa Savage was awarded a New Writer’s Bursary in 2015. Her novel The Murder House will be published in hardback in early 2019, by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central in the US. Rights have also been sold in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and France.
“Receiving a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary was an enormous boost – giving me the time to commit to developing an epic graphic novel idea, and the confidence that it was a story that others wanted to read.
The graphic novel is an ongoing project but the time spent working on it has led me directly to creating the quarterly Welsh-language comic, Mellten, which is a platform for serializing graphical stories like mine that might otherwise have remained untold.
The Writer’s Bursary and subsequent relationship with Literature Wales has opened so many doors for me, including hosting a joint workshop with former UK Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. The Writer’s Bursary has helped me establish a career writing and drawing my own stories, and borrowing other people’s stories to illustrate.”
Huw Aaron was awarded a New Writer’s Bursary in 2011. He is a freelance writer and illustrator and has created a series of playing cards for children Cardiau Brwydro – Chwedlau Cymru/Battle Cards – Legends of Wales published in 2017 (Atebol).
Aled Jones Williams
“Being taken seriously as an author – that was one by-product of receiving a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary. Those who awarded me the Bursary showed faith in me, and therefore gave me the confidence to experiment, try out different things and challenge myself. Not that I will use everything that I wrote, but time was given to experiment and be bold. The time that a Bursary allows is crucial: I know that there is a specific period where I can prioritise creative writing. A Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary is one of the most valuable resources available to writers, and to the not insubstantial number of individuals who want to write, but for some reason or other, have held back. Go for it now!”
Aled Jones Williams was awarded a Published Writer’s Bursary in 2016. His prose fiction Nostos will be published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch in 2018.
“I am extremely grateful to Literature Wales for the Writer’s Bursary. It gave me a special opportunity to work on a collection of English language poetry, something I have wanted to do for many years, but struggled to find the time. “
Mari George was awarded a 2015 Published Writer’s Bursary, to work on her first collection of English language poetry.
“The four months I spent working on my novel were totally invaluable in allowing me to pursue a project which I otherwise would have found it hard to find time to work on, with so many work commitments. I’d recommend any writer serious about their current writing project to get apply for a Writer’s Bursary. Not only did it allow me to get half of my novel written and researched, but it allowed me to develop the self-discipline I needed to sit and get the words down, when I otherwise would have felt too exhausted after a long hard day, with so many other commitments.
I’m still researching the book and taking the time to redraft and develop those characters when I can. Without the time the bursary bought me, they would still have been a figment of my imagination, with barely a line of dialogue ever making it to the page. I’m hoping to complete the novel within the next eighteen months.
Writing’s a hard craft when you’ve got full-time jobs, bills to pay, things to do and have massive writing projects to work on. It’s opportunities like this that really do make Literature Wales one of the most valuable sources of support we writers in Wales are lucky enough to have access to.”
Natalie Holborow was awarded a New Writer’s Bursary in 2016, to work on her first novel.
“I received a New Writer’s Bursary around ten years ago, when still a complete unknown. I had zero publication history; I didn’t even yet work under the name ‘Mab Jones’. The three months off work that this funding allowed really changed my life. I had received this Writer’s Bursary for a novel, but because, for the first time ever, I had this space and freedom, I also, again for the first time, began writing poems, as a kind of ‘doodle’ away from the novel. Not long after this I was selected to take part in the BBC Radio 4 National Poetry Slam. I decided to carry on as a poet, and can draw a direct line from the Writer’s Bursary, that London slam event, and what I do now, which includes presenting poetry programmes on BBC Radio 4. I have published two poetry collections, have won various other awards, and have read my work all over the UK as well as abroad. Without that initial support, as a very new writer, I literally would not be here. I also received a second bursary, some ten years after the first, to work on a children’s novel. I’m currently working to complete this. The second Writer’s Bursary allowed me time out to write, and also to conduct vital research. I think applying for a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary is the best thing you could ever do.”
Michelle Oliver received a New Writer’s Bursary in 2006, to work on a novel. Mab Jones received a Published Writer’s Bursary in 2015, to work on a novel for children.