The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship supports a creative writer or writers for a period of travel and exists to remember the late writer Julia Darling. The fellowship is worth £2,000 and is supported by a wide range of Julia’s friends and family, including many leading writers.

Applicants must live in the North of England and may be novelists, poets or playwrights and should have at least one professionally produced or published work to their name.

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship ran from 2015-2019 and was put on hold in 2020 due to covid. We very much hope to bring this opportunity back in the future.

A way to remember

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship was founded in 2015 to mark the tenth anniversary of Julia Darling’s death.

Julia’s friends, family and writing peers crowd-funded the award to remember the writer whose wide-ranging work included the novels Crocodile Soup (1998) and The Taxi Driver’s Daughter (2003); poetry collections Sudden Collapses in Public Places (2003) and Apology for Absence (2004); and plays for stage and radio, Eating the Elephant (1996), Personal Belongings (2002) and Appointments (2005).

Julia Darling’s work encompassed a wide range of topics and forms from plays and novels to poetry and performance. She was an exceptional artist with a unique and humorous voice that engaged readers even when her work explored her declining health and ultimate death from cancer. Julia was also a kind and generous writer who went out of her way to support and encourage many other writers to develop their work and their creativity.

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship is inspired by Julia’s love of travel and by the appreciation that she had of writing away from home, whether that was at creative retreats in the wilderness or in rented houses at the seaside.

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship is managed by New Writing North, but is purely crowd-funded. All donations contribute directly to the annual award fund. We have currently paused donations while the fellowship is on hold.

Jackie Kay

“I love the fact that Julia who loved to travel so much herself, on and off trains and planes, is now helping others to fly. Here’s to all the journeys. Julia would be raising her glass!”

David Almond

“I’m delighted to support this great venture. Julia was a brilliant and bold writer. She was also a generous and inspirational woman who had a strong impact on the lives and work of those who knew her. She would have been delighted with this fellowship, which offers such a great opportunity for writers to produce new work.”

Lee Hall

“Julia was an huge inspiration to me and she was a beacon of good sense, humour, ambition and right mindedness – as well as being a fabulous person whom I adored – so I would very much like to help remember her and The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship seems a really great and creative way to do that.”

Winner, 2019: Frances Byrne

Frances Byrnes is a freelance writer and producer who writes radio plays and makes documentary features for BBC Radio 3 and 4 and the World Service.

Dance is a common theme in her work, from A Cold War Dance (BBC Radio 4 / World Service), about Martha Graham’s Company performing in Vietnam just months before the fall of Saigon, to After a Dancemaker Dies (Radio 3), about the impact of the deaths of modern choreographers on their works. She also writes ballets for radio, which play with imagery and music to conjure pictures up in listeners’ imaginations.

“One of the things I love about dance is that the people who do it are subversive, minorities, people without voices,” says Frances. “The dance world is international and open hearted.”

Frances will be using the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship to visit Boston, USA, where the university archives hold the diaries, journals and records of Adele Astaire, the sister of Fred Astaire and his long-term dance partner until her marriage in 1932. Marriage to Lord Charles Cavendish took Adele to Lismore in County Waterford, Ireland, where the Devonshire family had loaned them a castle. It was a transatlantic moment of US celebrity marrying UK aristocracy; it also took her away from dancing.

Now Frances Byrnes will research Adele’s untold story, which she intends to write as a stage play.

Winner, 2018: Caroline Hawkridge

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.

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 her as a child immigrant. The experience will aid the writing of her first poetry collection.

“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.”

Winner, 2017: Emma McGordon

Emma McGordon is a writer from West Cumbria. She was awarded a Northern Writers Young Writer of the Year Award in her early twenties. 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.

“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.”

Winner, 2016: Michelle Green

Michelle Green is a British-Canadian writer and spoken word artist. Her stories have featured on BBC Radio 4, in Short Fiction Journal and literary mapping app LitNav, among other places. She has published one poetry chapbook, and one collection of ‘muscular, memorable’ short stories, Jebel Marra (Comma Press). Find out more at

“Since being awarded the Fellowship last summer, I’ve spent time on the small island that’s driven my creative obsession over the last few years, exploring and imagining what that obsession could become. That time and freedom has been invaluable; I’m now working alongside a sound designer, a digital artist, and a literary geographer to create a digital-audio map of short stories set on Hayling, exploring the turbulence of sea-level life as the oceans rise.”

Winner, 2015: Chloe Daykin

Chloe Daykin is a writer, playwright and arty teacher from Northumberland. Her debut novel Fish Boy – a beautiful hardback published by Faber & Faber, illustrated by Richard Jones – is out on World Book Day, 2 March 2017. Chloe writes about people in tricky situations with big imaginations and hearts and is a fan of anything fun, literary, poetic and strange.