Claire Malcolm awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021

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We’re delighted to share the news that Claire Malcolm, New Writing North’s founding Chief Executive, has been awarded an MBE for services to Literature, Young People, and the North-East of England.

Claire grew up in York in a working-class household and was the first person in her family to go to university. She studied Fine Art at Northumbria University and later gained an MA in Cultural Leadership from City University. A keen reader all her life, she began her career working with writers and developing new work at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Claire returned to Newcastle in 1996 to set up New Writing North and has grown the organisation and its work since that point. It was the first regional writing development agency of its kind in the UK and remains at the forefront of the sector, where it innovates with commissions, awards, prizes and development programmes that celebrate new writing and create opportunities, especially for those from underrepresented backgrounds.

The organisation is now an Arts Council England NPO turning over £1m a year and employing 14 staff alongside many freelancers. New Writing North won Creative Business of the Year at the North East Business Awards 2019 and was shortlisted at The Charity Awards 2021 for its Young Writers programme.

Throughout New Writing North’s 25-year history, Claire has been at the helm. She is a visionary leader, whose creative approach to supporting today’s writers and inspiring the writers of the future has long been recognised within the industry. Read more about Claire here


David Roche, Chair of New Writing North, said: “Claire has vision, and also a rare skill in her ability to bring together and develop partnerships that have delivered a track record of success over more than two decades. She passionately supports writers from diverse backgrounds and helps them to move forward in their careers. Claire not only champions the case for the importance of representation but gives real, live opportunities for talented writers who may not otherwise have been discovered to have their voice heard. She has ensured people are picking up pen and paper and telling their stories. And she has done this all with humility, a real desire to change the world, and with diversity and inclusion at the core of everything she does.

“Claire’s deep love and enthusiasm for literature is unquestionable; what really marks her out is her understanding, not only of the publishing industry itself, but of what reading and writing really mean to people. She bursts with ideas for bringing people in to the literary and cultural life of her region, and her work is inclusive, diverse and all about sharing the joy of writing and reading.  Throughout her career Claire has helped thousands of people, whether that is through raising funds or simply offering words of encouragement to those who need it. She has done this tactfully and quietly, and not always with the resources allocated to other creative organisations. She is also great fun to be around, and her optimism is contagious. She is one of those rare figures who seems to improve the lives of everyone who comes into contact with her.”

Read our press announcement here