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What we do

New Writing North was established in 1996 to support writers in the north of England to fulfil their creative ambitions.

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We’re here to help

Bright ideas. New faces.

We work with new writers and seek out talent across the North of England. We also work with established writers, often in ways that allow them the freedom to experiment and grow creatively. We are inspired by new ideas and commission new writing across all forms. We work to nurture the next generation of writers.

Tailored support

A creative life can be as challenging as it is rewarding. We recognise that writers need different support at different stages of their lives, that every career is unique, and that talent needs to be nurtured over the long term.

Small (but fierce)

We’re a small organisation, but we’re hugely ambitious in our work to support individual writers and to support the wider cultural landscape of the North of England. We believe the arts are for everyone and talent is everywhere. We want to make the North of England a culturally rich place and we work with many brilliant partners to achieve this goal.

So, what do you actually do?

Talent development

We run talent development programmes for writers including our flagship Northern Writers’ Awards, which support new work in progress; BBC 3 Verb New Voices; and Channel 4/ Northumbria University Writing for Television Awards.

Through these development programmes, we meet writers that we go on to work with on an individual basis. We offer a tailored package of support, which can include mentoring, development and introductions to publishers, agents, broadcasters and other commissioners.

To support writers we also produce the biennial Newcastle Writing Conference and the Crime Story festival.

Reader development

Through Read Regional our large-scale library partnership project we support readers throughout the North of England to engage with local authors and promote new writers. We value our partnerships with libraries. Through our book group network we support readers to engage with contemporary fiction and to explore new books.

Awards & Prizes

We celebrate excellence by awarding prizes to writers, including The Gordon Burn Prize, the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship, and our talent development programme, the Northern Writers’ Awards.

Engaging people with Books

We produce Durham Book Festival on behalf of Durham County Council. Through the festival, we celebrate northern literature, bring national and international writers to the North of England, and commission exciting new work. We also produce a theatrical tour of an adaptation of a children’s picture book to engage children and their families in books and reading that tours across the North of England.

Supporting reading and culture

Through our network of book groups and our annual children’s theatre production, which tours the North of England.

In 2016 we established Mayfly our publishing venture as a commercial partnership through which we generate income for New Writing North and support writers. The publishing house has two imprints, Moth for crime and Mayfly that brings classic books back to life.

Working with young people

We work extensively with young people through our Cuckoo Young Writers programme and through our Young Writers’ City project. We want to develop and empower the next generation of writers and artists, particularly in areas that lack other cultural opportunities.

Our history

New Writing North was the first regional writing development agency in the UK. Set up in 1996, the company was created to be a ‘DIY agency’ for writers. The aim was simple: to create more opportunities for writers to work in the region and to grow audiences for their work.

Our founding patrons were novelist Pat Barker, poet Sean O’Brien and scriptwriter Peter Flannery.

New Writing North’s work has evolved over the years to embrace reading development activity, work with young people, and partnerships with many different organisations. Originally focusing on the North East, since 2012 we have worked to develop reading and writing across the North of England.

New Writing North was set up by Arts Council England (then operating as Northern Arts) and from the beginning was tasked with working across writing forms from poetry and playwriting to film and fiction. This has given the agency a unique focus nationally and positioned it well to develop partnerships and new ways of working. The ‘new’ in New Writing North is important and it has always been a point of reference for the organisation, forging the desire to work in new ways and to build new audiences.

Since our establishment, our model of working has spread and we are now part of a national network of new writing agencies across the UK. Many of the organisations were modelled directly on New Writing North and our role in leading the development of this sector has been widely acknowledged.

How can I get involved?

Our book groups

Join one of our book groups held across the north

The latest from New Writing North

Become part of our network of readers and writers in the North of England

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