We are delighted to announce that the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship 2017 has been awarded to Emma McGordon, a writer from West Cumbria, for her to embark on a period of travel that will inspire and inform her work.

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.

The winner was announced at an event held at Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle yesterday (Sunday 4 June). The event featured readings of Julia’s work from performers Charlie Hardwick and Zoe Lambert, as well as a speech from 2016 winner Michelle Green.

Emma was awarded a Young Writer of the Year Award at the Northern Writers Awards in her early 20s. Since then she has gone on to perform nationally and internationally and hold a number of high-profile residencies including Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop in Paris.

She has been highly commended in the Rosamund Prize and in the University Women in the Arts awards as well as being shortlisted for Cumbria Writer for the Year. She received an Arts Council England Award to write a spoken word play, which will be produced by Rosehill Theatre in Autumn 2017. As a poet she is published by Black Suede Boot Press, Penned in the Margins and Tall Lighthouse.

Emma said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the fellowship. It will enable me to start working on a new project that will begin with a journey to San Francisco. I am excited to see how my work will develop in response to the trip and I am extremely grateful to the panel for the opportunity. As well as the financial benefit, an award like this also gives me a huge sense of recognition as a writer and the confidence to keep producing.”

Charlie Hardwick – one of the judges and a good friend of Julia’s – said: “The winning proposal was buzzing with energy and enthusiasm. Its journey from rural to urban, from quiet to loud, from black & white to technicolour, from largely in to hugely out is theatrical and culturally thrilling. I felt that Emma was chomping at the bit, and that not only would she devour the experience but she would also bring it back and share it through her work and with her community.”

Margaret Wilkinson said on judging the prize: “A compelling project with real depth, I was greatly impressed by the clarity and precision of this application from a writer who has spent years giving to others in her community wishing to now take inspiration from place and space to write. There was a fearlessness about this writer, juxtaposing the queer experience in rural Cumbria and San Francisco.”

Writer and judge Bev Robinson said: “There were many fascinating and interesting projects this year, which makes it harder to select just one. On the other hand it demonstrates the depth of talent and imagination of the creative writers in the North.”

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.

In 2015, Chloe Daykin, from Northumberland, used the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship to travel to Norway to research her second novel. In 2016, Michelle Green was awarded £2,000 to travel to Hayling Island, the location of a new set of short stories.

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, see juliadarling.co.uk.