In my salad days before marriage and children I felt the desperate need to desert London and retreat to the country and write. I was lucky enough to secure a fellowship as a writer at Winchester School of Art. It was a blissful time, living in a little flat, which I shared with a young artist and poet, on a hill above the ancient city of Winchester. It gave me time to think, a green room period, away from my busy social life. I have always treasured that time.
Last spring, amidst the intense re-writes for my new musical, I realised that what I really needed was time to retreat again. Somehow, completely by chance I discovered some information about the Hosking Houses Trust and called them up to find out more. Sarah Hosking told me the fellowship was for “women over forty who have achieved a substantial body of work dealing with any subject whatsoever and who require a period of financially protected domestic peace for personal work”. I felt quite faint with the shock of it – “there’s nothing in the world for women over forty!” She laughed and said that this was why she had set it up.
It offers a writer two or three months in a cottage in Clifford Chambers, not far from Stratford Upon Avon, and a stipend to live on.
Sarah Hosking also told me that “eligibility requires a contract for work in hand”. My contract with Watford Palace Theatre was almost in the bag and it all sounded absolutely perfect!!
“Come and visit me when you’re next in Stratford” she said. I scanned the RSC website to find a play to see, I couldn’t possibly go and visit without the excuse of a show. Twelfth Night, one of my favourites, was on the following month. I booked the show and arranged to visit Sarah Hosking and the Cottage.