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Eccles Centre Writers in Residence 2012

Read the 2012 Writers in Residence blog posts

Sheila Rowbotham 5kb Sheila Rowbotham Naomi Wood 6kb Naomi Wood

A pioneering socialist feminist and a burgeoning novelist were appointed the first ever Writers in Residence at the British Library’s Eccles Centre for American Studies. The two writers, who began their year-long residencies in January 2012, were Sheila Rowbotham, the respected British socialist feminist writer and honorary fellow of the Universities of Manchester and Bristol, and Naomi Wood, known for her critically acclaimed debut novel The Godless Boys.

The two winners were chosen from a list of applicants of a very high standard by a panel of judges comprised of Richard Carwardine, president of Corpus Christi College Oxford, Tracy Chevalier, renowned author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, Philip Davies, Director of the Eccles Centre for American Studies, Catherine Eccles, Literary Scout, and Carole Holden, Head of the American and Australian Studies curatorial team at the British Library.

Rowbotham and Wood struck an interesting contrast – one a well established political, non-fiction author and the other a burgeoning novelist, which the judges had agreed would be an interesting combination. Both writers worked on their next books: Naomi Wood’s Mrs Hemingway was a historical novel, exploring the lives of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives, while Sheila Rowbotham’s non-fiction Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers and Radicals in the US and Britain 1880 to 1910 traced a small network of British and American radicals at the turn of the century.

The award of £20,000 and residency at the British Library was open to writers resident in the UK, working on a full-length book which would require substantial use of the British Library’s collections relating to North America. Working with Philip Davies, Director of the Eccles Centre, the two winners also developed and participated in seminars, workshops and other events related to their projects.

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