Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Not long to go now - hope you are all ready for those red roses and Valentine Day cards?  This year, I was in good time to write my article for one of my favourite glossy magazines.   I chose the theme of "love" and how, if nurtured, will last a lifetime.  Here we are with page one of my feature which appears in this month's ESSEX LIFE MAGAZINE, published by Archant, a great journal to which I have contributed since the early 1990s.  Hope you enjoy my little piece of naval history!

Saturday, February 02, 2019


Could it really be fourteen years since Sheila Norton paid a visit to our Writers' Circle in Brentwood, Essex?  This award-winning author has certainly been busy in the intervening years and I can honestly say, she hasn't changed a bit since 2004.  Sheila gave her audience this afternoon a fascinating talk about her start as a rookie writer and the value of entering (and winning) a couple of competitions which certainly helped her journey into this strange world of writing that so many of my colleagues enjoy. Her first eight books have been so successful and her later change in direction even more so. Next week her nineteenth book The Pet Shop at Pennycombe Bay will be published by Ebury Press, so we we all have a chance to see what Sheila has in store for us.

We are a family who love cats and Sheila's latest theme using these feline characters to tell their tales, is certainly going to be a winner. Her books have been translated into many different languages and her success goes from strength to strength. Well, why not see for yourself and log into her website www.sheilanorton.com and browse through some of her latest titles? She offers readers  her quarterly newsletter and we can even hear some of her stories via audio books including 'The Vets at Hope Green' and 'The Pets at Primrose Cottage'. libraries.

Friday, February 01, 2019


The emotional range of the poet Wendy Cope has always impressed me from villanelle to haiku, yep, we writers have all have a go at both - I'm not terribly good - but Wendy's work is so very clever and her output is amazing. 

In our history of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists - soon to celebrate the 125 years since being founded in Victorian times (by a man - no less!) - we are proud of the wonderful poets who were members - among every other genre of writing that you can think of. At least one of our members, Alice Meynell, almost became Poet Laureate in 1913, but that was a difficult time politically, for women, as your historical knowledge on suffragettes will reveal.

Right this minute, on Friday 1 February, Wendy is being interviewed on BBC Radio 4's  Desert Island Discs by Lauren Lavern. Do a 'catch up' and listen to one of the best poets in this country today. Better still, read her work published by Faber & Faber. 

In my history of the SWWJ, I devote a chapter to the success of our poets, and you will recognise some of the most celebrated names in international literary history. 

There is plenty more to read about our members from the time we began this Society on 1 May 1894 and I am delighted that many of our leading academics continually make contact with us on www.swwj.co.uk when they are composing their own work.

Oh, what a joy to bump into Wendy and two other superb poets, John Agard and Fleur Adcock relaxing over a drink at our ALCS party in Westminster - an exciting and entertaining trio! Wasn't I lucky?
John Agard Fleur Adcock and Wendy Cope snapped at a London writers' event