Hawthornden Literary Retreat at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland was founded to provide a peaceful setting for creative writers to work without disturbance. The Retreat receives writers for 10 months of the year. It houses six writers at a time, known as Hawthornden Fellows, in sessions lasting four weeks each.
The Retreat is international in character and welcomes applications from writers from all over the world. The Retreat is administered as a charity, the mission of which is to foster creative writing in all languages, and creative writers of all kinds – poets, novelists, short-story writers, playwrights, scriptwriters, creative non-fiction writers etc. – are welcome to apply.
The Castle and Grounds
The castle stands on an isolated rock above the gorge of the river North Esk, and although only 7 miles from Edinburgh is entirely surrounded by woods. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was renowned as one of the great Romantic landscapes of Scotland and was much visited. As a retreat, the castle is now more secluded, but the landscape remains largely untouched to this day.
No demands are made on the fellows’ time during the sessions. The aim is to provide a refuge from the distractions and duties of daily life to allow the fellows to concentrate fully on their writing. The fellows may choose not to attend breakfast or dinner, and they may arrange readings or other entertainments amongst themselves, but there is no prescribed social activity at the castle. Nor are fellows expected to give any account of their work. With these aims in mind, it should also be noted:
1. Generally silence is maintained at the castle from 9am to 6pm.
2. No internet service is provided at the Retreat, nor, to date, does the castle receive ambient signals powerful enough to support consistent internet access. Those who require continual access to the internet, whether for their work or for the purposes of leisure, should consider this point carefully before applying. Internet access is available at various local cafes, bars and libraries, and fellows generally manage their internet use by visiting one or other of these establishments once or twice a week.
Applicants with any physical disabilities are advised to consult the Administrator before applying. The castle is an ancient building with narrow entrances, many stairs and no lift.
Writers awarded a fellowship will be invited to attend one of eight annual sessions. Each session last four weeks. The sessions run from January to June and from September to December. The Retreat provides no monetary assistance to the fellows, nor does it make any contribution towards travelling expenses. As guests of the Retreat, the Fellows receive full bed and board for the duration of their session. Fellows have the use of a private study bedroom and other communal facilities including an extensive library, studio, drawing room, garden room, as well as the castle garden, walks, woods and grounds. Breakfast and dinner are communal meals served in a dining room at set hours. Lunch is provided in a basket delivered to the fellows’ rooms so as not to disrupt any working routine. All dietary requirements and preferences – vegetarian, vegan, allergies – are catered for. Laundry is taken in and linen changed once a week. Towels and dressing gowns are provided.
Applications are made for the following calendar year and the deadline for submitting applications is 30 June. Anyone wishing to receive an application form should write to the Administrator of the Retreat with details of their postal address, telephone number and email address. Application forms are sent out by surface mail from January. When requesting an application form, writers need not send samples of their work, CVs or any other enclosures. Advice on how to fill in the form and a brochure describing the Retreat are included with the application form. Requests for application forms should be addressed to: