Back in 1964 a new school opened in Brixham. By 1965 The Community College, as it became, had a thriving programme of evening classes. As a would-be writer, and shy of admitting it, I took my courage in both hands and joined a course on Writing for Pleasure and Profit run by a Mrs Barbara Palmer. Barbara was the most kind and encouraging person to lead a rag-tag bunch of beginners, who quickly became friends. The classes ran for some years and then, when people began to establish themselves as writers who actually earned a crust or two, we decided to band ourselves into a club, which Barbara headed until she retired.
Apart from weekly meetings, during the seventies and eighties we had writing weekends at Dartington and Oldway where we invited well known authors. In particular I remember R.F.Delderfield whose novels were being televised at the time. “Don’t get it right get it written” was his advice. When he wrote about love affairs he said that he always thought back to his teenage years and the tremendous feelings of falling in love for the first time. It’s something I’ve always kept in mind when writing my own novels and short stories.
In the nineties Elizabeth Johnson from Mills & Boon historicals came down for a weekend we organised at the Northcliffe hotel. M&B at the time were looking for new authors, so covered the costs of their editors to visit various parts of the country. Those were the days!
One of our members, Irene Northan, was writing Mills & boon historical novels, as Elizabeth Lowther, at the time. She was one of our founder members, though sadly she died aged 56 just as she was beginning to really get well known through her sagas , under her own name, for Headline. Monica Maple, writing as Sarah Westleigh, was also taken up by Mills & Boon. Some of our members moved abroad. Heather Graves who writes novels based on the horse-racing scene (Hale/Piatkus) now lives in Australia. Carole Llewellyn, (historicals/Hale) has recently moved to Spain. The magic of email keeps us in touch.
Back in 1990 we had a lunch to celebrate the Silver anniversary of those first classes that evolved into Brixham Writers’ Club. Now we are looking forward to the next big milestone, our fiftieth anniversary. We have seen several well-known novelists launched in those years. And others who have made a lower-profile career in different branches of writing. Hopefully, there will be many more successful years to come.
To catch up with the current crop of published writers, see our author pages.
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