How does a city’s biography inform its current life? What
stories are told by places, and by people, past and present? What stories do
they inspire in you?
26 Writers Norwich is a collaborative writing project
which pairs contemporary writers with Norwich writers, all of whom pioneered an
idea, or an institution, sometimes both. ‘The least religious city’ in England
and Wales (2011 Census) was home to
Bishop Herbert de Losinga, whose cathedral houses a world-renowned library;
Julian of Norwich, the venerated Christian mystic whose books are the first
written in English by a woman; and Elizabeth Fry, the renowned Quaker social
reformer and prison reformer. Literary luminaries from the last 900 years
include Britain’s first Hebrew poet, the “father of the English sonnet”, the
author of Black Beauty, and the first Creative Writing scholar.
Radicals pepper the Norwich archives – in journalism, feminism, science,
sociology, philosophy, politics and education. Poetry blossoms and blooms in
new forms. Novels break the rules. Folklore abounds and maps flourish. Is it
any wonder that Norwich today is England’s first City of Literature?
Another wonderful 26 project! I've been paired with Harriet Martineau, 1802-1876, said to be the founder of sociology and the inspiration for the ghastly Mrs Jellyby in Dicken's Bleak House.
"Dry for days" do I hear you say? You might think that, but you'd be wrong.
"Prove it!" you say? That's my plan. Starting this weekend. An atmosphere- and information-trawling expedition will ensue. A meeting in a cafe with a young poet from the Cotswolds has been arranged - it's not just dead people we've been twinned with! And I'm going to write a piece to make you like Harriet as much as I do.
It's going to be fun!
P.S. Other 26 projects I've had fun with are 26 Treasures and 26 Stories of Christmas.
P.P.S. For those of you who were wondering, Silver Skin is with my agent as we speak ...