Skip to main content

What we do

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

Jump to… View all

We’re here to help

Bright ideas. New faces.

We work with new writers and seek out talent across the North of England. We work to nurture the next generation of writers.

We also work with more 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.

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.

Support for writers

We run several talent development programmes for writers including our flagship Northern Writers’ Awards, which support new work-in-progress and are the country’s biggest writer development programme.

Other regular programmes include the Young Writers’ Talent Fund, for emerging artists aged 15-25 and BBC 3 Verb New Voices, a programme which supports innovative new work for radio. We also regularly run new one-off opportunities for writers.

We celebrate excellence by awarding prizes to writers, including The David Cohen Prize for Literature, which celebrates a lifetime’s achievement, The Gordon Burn Prize, which rewards bold and innovative writing, and the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship, which allows a writer a period to travel and create.

We also produce the biennial Newcastle Writing Conference and Crime Story, a unique model which pairs writers and readers of crime fiction with experts in real-life crime including detectives, forensic scientists and criminologists.

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


Engaging people with books and reading

Since 2011 we have produced Durham Book Festival on behalf of Durham County Council. Over 10 days and 80 events, we bring national and international writers to the North of England, celebrate northern literature, and stage exciting new work in the North East’s biggest literary event.

Read Regional is our large-scale library partnership project, delivered in partnership with 21 local authorities, through which we support readers throughout the North of England to engage with books by northern authors. Through our Northern Bookshelf quarterly books newsletter we encourage readers to engage with contemporary fiction and to explore new books from the North.

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

From 2013-2017 we produced an annual children’s theatre 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.

Working with Young People

We work extensively with young people through our New Writing North Young Writers’ programme. Through a combination of in-depth schools work, open access creative writing groups, summer schools and short-term projects, we work to develop and empower the next generation of writers and artists.

We also work with higher education and deliver a long-running Creative Writing for Teachers‘ course. Several of our writing development initiatives are aimed at emerging artists and aim to support young people in the early stages of their writing careers.

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?

Read Regional

Submit your published work or attend author events at your local library

The latest from New Writing North

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

Sign up for our monthly newsletter below to find out about and share the latest opportunities. Write for our blog. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to share your news and events. Use our resources.

Sign up to our newsletter ›
Back to top