History of the Festival

WWC2013The Winchester Writers’ Conference, as it was known for many years, was founded in 1980 by Barbara Large, MBE, who understood that writers want to meet fellow writers and connect with the literary and publishing worlds. Barbara led the Conference as Director until 2013, supporting emerging writers, nurturing the warm and friendly ethos and establishing the workshops and one-to-ones that have become synonymous with publishing success for so many over the years. Around 130 delegates have been published via traditional routes as a direct result of meetings with literary agents and commissioning editors at Winchester.

The Conference was first convened at the University of Southampton, before moving to its current home at the University of Winchester in 2005 where it is now firmly established with an international reputation and delegates from all around the world, complementing the University’s pursuit of excellence in the field of Creative Writing.

The Conference has had many wonderful supporters along the way. Maureen Lipman, Jacqueline Wilson and Colin Dexter continue as our Honorary Patrons, and we are most grateful to PD James who has recently retired from this role. The Plenary, or Keynote Address is undoubtedly one of the Conference highlights; previous speakers have included Lord Julian Fellowes, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Morpurgo, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Sir Terry Pratchett. We remain immensely grateful too to the literary agents, commissioning editors, best-selling authors and other industry professionals who give talks, run workshops, provide one-to-ones and adjudicate our competitions each year.

In June 2013, Barbara retired as Director after many decades of unstinting service to writers and to readers. At this point the Conference became the Winchester Writers’ Festival – a new name and a new logo as it moves into its 34th year. Nevertheless, its aims remain the same: to continue to inspire and support writers working in all genres, both emerging and established, from the first spark of an idea to publication and beyond.