Thursday, April 29, 2010


Diana Hayden has produced an excellent book for writers, both aspiring and professional. For those who would like to join a local group (wherever they live in Britain) do get hold of a copy of DIRECTORY OF WRITERS' CIRCLES, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS 2010. Cleverly she has organised the sections by postcode (alphabetical) which I personally found useful when speaking with members at lectures. Diana has included online and postal groups, courses, workshops and many other aspects of our craft.

Diana produces a new edition annually and in the period between editions, she keeps an amendment list in operation which is loose-leaf. Do contact Diana Hayden at Check out her website

Friday, April 23, 2010


At last I have some photos taken by Royal photographer, Phil Gammon recently, when members of the New Cavendish Club met HRH Princess Alexandra. The reception celebrated the centenary anniversary of the forming of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses and it was a glittering occasion.The dinner that followed was wonderful.

The Voluntary Aid Detachment was formed at the beginning of the last century to support medical and nursing services and contributed a major role in both World Wars in the initial treatment and comfort of the returning wounded.

Princess Alexandra met senior members of nursing organisations and the British Red Cross, as well as Club officials during the reception. Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to rename the main banqueting suite “The Centenary Suite”.

Chairman, Susan-Ann Dowle, commented: “We were delighted to welcome Princess Alexandra. The Club has always been synonymous with the VAD nurses and we are privileged to honour their memory.”

The New Cavendish Club was formed in the early 1920s as a meeting place for the “gentlewomen” who had served in the VAD in the Great War. Gentlemen were accepted as members in 1985 and, while retaining its historic ties with the nursing profession, now provides a comfortable and affordable “home from home” in central London for members from all walks of life. For further information: Phil Gammon's images can be seen on his website of same name.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


CRISIS, the homelessness charity, announced the successful conclusion of A Positive View following Christie’s sale of vintage and contemporary photography last night.

An impressive £305,000 was raised at the auction, with 100% of sales going to the charity. The sale included works by masters such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Yousuf Karsh and Corinne Day, as well as the Crisis Royal Diptych, created by Prince William and Crisis client Jeff Hubbard.

The auction was preceded by a Royal Gala Reception attended by A Positive View Patron Prince William. The Prince met guests, including members of Crisis, who have been studying photography at the Crisis Skylight, education, training and employment centres in London and Newcastle, and whose photographs were part of the exhibition and sale.

Co-hosted by Barclays Wealth and Vogue, the Royal Gala Reception and auction attracted a glittering array of photography celebrities and collectors.

Monday, April 19, 2010


1st May – 4th September 2010
Museum of Richmond,
Old Town Hall, Whittaker Avenue,
Richmond TW9 1TP
free entry
Learn how female actors, writers and artists played a part in the
early 1900s Women’s Suffrage Campaign, nationally and locally
Enjoy a revival of the futuristic comedy play first performed in
Twickenham Town Hall in 1910, at the Orange Tree Theatre
Saturday 19 June 2010, 11am

Friday, April 16, 2010


We all love Jane Austen and her books. My favourite is Pride and Prejudice and part of the attraction is the way in which the Georgians dressed. Now we have a chance to sample a little of the atmosphere of the times via Maria Conyers' evening to come at the wonderful Hylands House on Saturday, 8th May, 2010 at 7.00pm - carriages 11.30pm

This is billed as THE GRAND REGENCY COSTUME BALL - AN AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL RECREATION OF A JANE AUSTEN BALL WITH REGENCY STYLE LIVE MUSIC, DANCING AND SUPPER -what a fabulous chance to dress up. Maria will advise on dress hire. This event is just one that Maria is running for the ROTARY CLUB OF BRENTWOOD BREAKFAST. She is certainly one of the most energetic and successful fundraisers in my little black networking book.

The Ball is going to be a one off and wonderful, so book a place through Maria 01277 375 955 and she will tell you that the proceeds are in aid of THE ROTARY JAIPAR LIMB PROJECT in India.

See you there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Ramsden Heath-based author Andrea Barham writes the kind of book that most journalists love, full of fun and quirky information. The first of her latest trio The Pedant's Revolt brought her as a guest on the Richard & Judy TV show and she has followed this with Queen Elizabeth's Wooden Teeth: And Other Historical Fallacies, and The Pedant's Return Andrea's books are entertaining and surprising, even for people who think they know their history and English. Michael O'Mara is her publisher and the books can be bought through most good bookshops and through Amazon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Wendy Hughes tells me there are a few places left for her Journalists and Non-Fiction Writers' Course on Tuesday 27 April 11.00 TO 16.00 - the venue is The Writers' House, 13 Haydon Street, London EC3N 1DB (nearest tube: Tower Hill)

These special days are fun; also important, particularly for beginners as well as more experienced non-fiction writers. A factfile on interviewing and pitching a non-fiction book proposal will be handed out on the day. In this workshop Wendy will cover :
 Interviewing for journalists and non-fiction writers – whether you are writing a newspaper item, an article, or researching for a non-fiction book, writers need interviewing skills. This session will include setting up the interview, pre-planning, interviewing techniques, questions to ask, problems you may encounter, writing it up, selling your piece or idea for a book.
 Saleable knowledge probe – looking for ideas? Session on finding ideas within your personal knowledge bank - hobbies, special interests, occupational knowledge, life experiences, etc
 Pitching a non-fiction book proposal.
 Sharing work in Progress – for the session to work delegates are requested bring along to the workshop, either a completed article, idea for a piece of non-fiction or the outline for an idea for a book. During this session Wendy will offer constructive criticism and markets where possible.
 Wendy’s Forum –There will also be time for a general discussion and what subjects you would like covered in future workshops or if you would like to visit places such as The British Library newspaper collections, non-fiction publishers, etc, if these could be arranged. Cost of the day is £18.50 per person. Information can be obtained from Wendy email:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


A welcoming place in the heart of London’s West End is The New Cavendish Club, near Marble Arch. This has been home to the SWWJ as corporate members for many years and its connection with Voluntary Aid Detachment members has always intrigued me. Their centenary was celebrated in November last year and last week, HRH Princess Alexandra arrived to spend time with members and unveil a plaque in the newly named ‘Centenary Room’. I enjoyed meeting many of the members at the reception and a superb dinner a little later. Many of the Club’s members had travelled long journeys to be there on the night and here is a picture showing our new friends from Australia and Chief Folake Solanke from Ibadan, Nigeria. It was a lovely evening and I hope to post up more pictures when I can.


I seem to be in a dramatic mood at present. Always delighted to publicise our members' theatrical endeavours. What a huge joy to hear of Doreen Friend's play to be put on at London's Cockpit Theatre on 14th and 15th May 2010. NORMAL SHOES is her brand new play. Doreen (aka Della) has written numerous scripts over the years and has enjoyed receiving many accolades for her work. Her new play will be directed by another of our supersonic members, Martin Cort. Martin is a great producer with a distinguished provenance in the theatre.

The storyline is set in a private nursing home, and the play examines the life of Kenny Tucker, a clown nursing a secret which threatens to destroy him...

Funnily enough, I am in correspondence with a couple of clowns and a few nursing homes, so the topic is a little near to home for me, but it sounds a fascinating storyline. More details can be found at the Cockpit 020 7258 2925 or from the website where tickets can be booked.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I particularly wanted to show off this play by Frank Hatt, who wrote his script about Constance Armfield (nee Smedley), one of our memorable women writers. She was quite a girl and an early member of the Society of Woman Writers & Journalists which started in 1894. In Spring 1903, full of enthusiasm and inspiration, she helped start up the International Lyceum Club wich today straddles the world, with chapters in every major city. Read more about it in my latest book THE WOMAN WRITER published by the History Press (see pages 49/50). Below is detail of the play, which is being performed in other theatres around Gloucestershire and later on tour in Kent.

The Amazing and Preposterous
Constance Smedley
by Frank Hatt

The play is based on events in the life of Constance Smedley, novelist, journalist, illustrator, playwright, theatre-worker and founder of the International Lyceum Club for Women Writers and Artists and the Cotswold Players. It spans the period 1903-1915
11th – 13th March 2010
Everyman Theatre Studio


Constance Smedley - Sophie Laughton

Di Smedley - Sally-Anne Beighton

Billy Smedley - David Seymour

William Smedley - Dan Maxwell

Annie Smedley - Fiona Ross

Maxwell Armfield - David Seymour

Frank Gwynne-Evans - Dan Maxwell

Director - Chris Garner

Designer - Sue Condie

Sound Design - Simon McCorry

Lighting Design - Corin Hayes

Friday, April 02, 2010


Alastair Campbell, Barbara Stuttle and yours truly at the last event of the Essex Book Festival on Tuesday - a great evening!

The Essex Book Festival is over for another year. This one – the eleventh – has been the best yet. Over the last month, readers and writers have enjoyed meeting some of the most notable personalities from around the world. Haven’t room to features photos of all of our visiting speakers - have illustrated local newspapers -but here is a note about just some of the sixty who appeared this year.

Colchester welcomed many of our best British authors. Andrew Motion introduced his latest book of poems, The Cinder Path, and essay, Ways of Life: on Places, Painters and Poets. Rose Tremain also appeared in the town, as did Otto de Kat, our visiting Dutch author. Essex author, Nick Ardley gave us a touch of the sea with his book Salt Marsh & Mud – brilliant evening. Alexander McCall Smith appeared at Felsted and spoke about his eleventh book in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series published last month. Margaret Drabble was at Old Harlow; Mike Gayle and George Alagiah were brilliant at Loughton, and Brentwood publishers, Malcolm Burgess and Heather Reyes appeared with the fabulous Irish novelist Orna Ross during the St Patrick’s Eve celebrations and we had a great evening examining their latest book city-lit Dublin.

Germaine Greer appeared at Chelmsford, Francis Wheen at the Essex Record Office; Penelope Lively – one of my favourites – was top of the bill at Great Baddow; Robert Hallman, a brilliant writer and photographer enlivened Hadleigh; Barbara Erskine at Wickford and of course Maggie Gee at our own Billericay Library, all of whom gave brilliant performances. Alastair Campbell appeared at Brentwood’s Bishops Hill in Hutton, introduced by Barbara Stuttle CBE. The author outlined the background to his support for Time to Change, a campaign to end stigma around mental health.