The Royal Literary Fund's Fellowship Scheme for Writiers (in Further and Higher Education)
The Royal Literary Fund is a charity, originally founded in 1790 for the relief of poor and distressed authors. The Fund's charter defines its secondary purpose as the advancement of public education, and under this clause the RLF now proposes to set up a system of Fellowships for writers attached to universities and other colleges of further and higher education. The RLF will launch a small pilot scheme in the autumn of 1999. The plan is to place writers on campus where they can interact with staff and students in ways devised to suit both parties.
The college will be asked to supply an office space with computer, the use of phone and photocopier, access to the internet, and to library and social facilities. The Fund will pay the writer a stipend and reimburse his or her expenses. The writer will focus on supporting students in the development of 'expository writing' skills. The Fellow will be available to students for individual consultation on an academic writing assignment, but small group sessions or an occasional workshop/ seminar may also be given. Any arrangement should leave the writer ample time to pursue his or her own work without distraction.
The RLF scheme is intended to complement the many existing creative-writing and writers-in-residence schemes which tend to be relatively brief, labour-intensive and demanding, often best suited to unattached writers at the start of their careers. It is designed to appeal on as broad a front as possible, including many who have not previously thought this kind of appointment had anything to offer them. On the one hand, the Fund would like to involve the most recent and least hidebound universities, regional colleges, scientific and technical institutions and departments. On the other, it hopes to interest all sorts of students, from candidates already taking literature or English courses to those with no previous experience or interest in writers, who might nonetheless be glad of help with basic skills, such as how to write a letter, set out an argument or proposal, compose a job application and draw up a CV.
So far as authors are concerned, the Fellowship scheme is meant not only for poets, playwrights and novelists but for scientific and technical writers, historians, biographers and translators. It will cover all parts of Britain, paying particular attention to the local and regional needs of both writers and institutions. Its aim is to break down divisions, build up contacts and stimulate the living language, to relieve cultural poverty and linguistic distress as well as lightening the financial and material pressures weighing so heavily at present on the whole company of authors.