We are delighted to announce that the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship 2018 has been awarded to Caroline Hawkridge, a writer from Cheshire. The fellowship will fund the return to her birth country, Zimbabwe.

The fellowship, worth £2,000, supports a creative writer or writers and exists to remember the late writer Julia Darling, who was based in Newcastle. A wide range of Julia’s friends and family, including many leading writers, support the prize, which is awarded by New Writing North. Since its creation, the prize has taken Chloe Daykin on a Nordic adventure (2015), aided Michelle Green to be inspired by the landscape of her Hayling Island short story collection (2016) and allowed Emma McGordon a trip to explore the queer scene of San Francisco to inspire her first poetry collection (2017).

Caroline Hawkridge began her writing career with two groundbreaking women’s health books, Understanding Endometriosis (Optima, Little Brown) and The Menopause, HRT and You (Penguin), which enabled women to bear witness and be heard. She has since completed an MA in Creative Writing in Manchester Metropolitan University and decided to turn her writing interests from the silence of patients to the silence she has experienced as a child immigrant. Caroline will be using the Fellowship to return to Zimbabwe for the first time since her family left 50 years ago. Inspired by Julia’s First Aid Kit for the Mind and her love of travel, Caroline will head to Africa to explore what home really means to a child immigrant. The experience will aid the writing of her first poetry collection.

Caroline Hawkridge said:

“The paper aeroplane which I folded from a map of Africa when I saw a map-plane in Julia Darling’s First Aid Kit for the Mind is still here on my desk. Now it will fly south like a swallow at the end of summer and in Julia’s name. I am incredibly grateful to everyone concerned with the Fellowship for this breath-taking opportunity to return to my childhood home of Zimbabwe for the first time since I left, aged 9. According to UNICEF, 31 million children were living outside their country of birth in 2015. Does a swallow belong to two continents – or none? Perhaps home is the work of homing? Now I have a deeply creative opportunity to find out.”

Writer and judge Bev Robinson said:

“Judging this fellowship gets harder every year as there are so many interesting proposals and ideas. Each and every one has merit from just needing space and peace to write to subterranean exploration, cargo ships across the Atlantic and the winning entry of ‘the reluctant traveller’ returning to Zimbabwe after leaving as a child. Good luck to all those who applied in realising their stories.”

Caroline was announced as this year’s winner at an event held at the new Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle on Sunday 20 May. The event featured story-telling, music and poetry from Zoe Lambert, Nicky Rushton, Sarah Van-Jellie and Gem Andrews, and a screening of Two Lighthouses, a film by Tina Gharavi inspired by the Julia Darling poem of the same name. Emma McGordon, winner of the 2017 fellowship, reported back on her trip to San Francisco.

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship was established in 2015 to mark ten years since Julia’s death. Julia was a kind and generous writer who went out of her way to support and encourage many writers to develop their work and their creativity.

The prize is inspired by her love of travel and by the fulfilment she gained from writing away from home, whether that was at creative retreats in the wilderness or in rented houses at the seaside.

The fellowship is made available to novelists, poets and playwrights over the age of 18, who live and work in the north of England who have at least one professionally produced or published work to their name.

To support the continuation of the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship, see the JustGiving page.

To find out more about Julia Darling, visit juliadarling.co.uk