A Kinrowan Estate Story: Writing Retreats (A Letter To Peter)

Dear Peter,

Here’s my thoughts on the history of writing retreats here

The first recorded one was in the Twenties, a small group of mystery writers, no one that anyone reads now, but who were all fairly well-known at that time. They stayed here for a few weeks, talked about their editors and how little the magazines were paying, drank well and ate even better. They wree very impressed with the collection of mystery works in our Library including a full run of Strand magazine.

A rather interesting writing group that met here off and on during the Second World War apparently was under the auspices of the War Office though we didn’t get told that until some fifty years later. We were told then that they were a group of historians and novelists, who were to develop deep covers for agents in Nazi occupied Europe.

When the yurts got built in the Sixties, we started getting groups here in the Summer that liked meeting outdoors. One of the odder groups was apparently devoted to writing Feminist versions of the Arthurian mythos. Now none of us had any problem with that but they brooked no arguments as to the validity of that idea. And that made for some rather tense moments in the Pub late in the evening.

I think that was what led The Steward to turn down a group of Marion Zimmer Bradley acolytes who wanted to meet here some summers back. That he had brown eyes and had read The Mists of Avalon I’m sure had nothing to do with it . . .

By the Eighties, we started to get creative writing groups which I swear meant that grammar, logic, and even telling a story that makes sense were tossed in the rubbish bin. Iain, our new Librarian, actually started planning his vacations so that he and his wife were off somewhere else when such a group was here as he wanted nothing to do with them. Wise decision all in all.

(They got banned from reading their work to each other in the Pub. And pretty much anywhere else except where they had rented space.)

We still get to this one or two writing groups a year that meet our standards and are allowed to use the Estate, but I’m still more fond of knitters, artists, bread and cheese makers, real ale fans, and even the occasional horde of mass voice orchestras.

Cheers Reynard

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Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don’t always.

It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we’ve done down the years.

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