Open Call: Small Wonder Short Story Festival International Writer in Residence

An exciting opportunity for an international writer in residence at Small Wonder Short Story Festival

We have an opportunity for a non-UK based writer to spend up to one week as a Writer in Residence at this year’s Small Wonder Short Story Festival, which runs from 27 September – 1 October 2017.

The residency would suit a writer at any stage of their career who is interested in responding creatively to and within Small Wonder and Charleston environment and making connections with the UK short story sector. The writer’s programme will be fully tailored to the individual, but is expected to include opportunities for meeting with UK writers and literary professionals, hospitality and networking possibilities, as well as space and time to develop the writer’s own work independently. The writer need not be writing creatively in English, although a good understanding of English and ability to communicate fluently is essential. By the end of the residency we would like the writer to create a short piece of work in any genre which in some way responds to the festival and/ or its setting at Charleston. We wish to emphasise that this is a festival residency offered to a writer, not a writing residency. It is not suitable for writers who are seeking space and time to write; rather it is a professional development opportunity and one which we hope will boost creativity.

Find out more about Small Wonder Short Story festival here.

This will be the 14th year of Small Wonder, which this year takes place from 27 Sept– 1 Oct 2017. Small Wonder is the foremost dedicated short story festival in the UK. It takes place at Charleston in East Sussex, the former home of the Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Duncan Grant. Events take place in a traditional barn in the grounds, seating around 200, with an independent book shop on site. We programme a variety of types of sessions, most of which include more than one author. Charleston is a very atmospheric and culturally resonant rural setting in the heart of the South Downs National Park, and Small Wonder attracts a dedicated and vibrant audience.  The programme for 2017 is yet to be announced, but previously featured writers include Lionel Shriver, Ali Smith, Kei Miller and Elif Shafak.

About the Residency 

Barbara Jenkins from Trinidad was the first International Writer in Residence at Small Wonder in 2015 and wrote daily blogs to reflect on her experiences. In 2016 we welcomed Kagiso Lesego Molope from South Africa and you can read more about her experience here.

I came away inspired not only to get on with it and finish the novel that's been languishing but also to go back to my first love - the short story.

Any international short story writer gifted with a British Council residency at Small Wonder is a very fortunate person. The exposure to a wide variety of writing and writers, the tremendous hospitality, the warm welcome & comfortable accommodation, the smooth arrangements with transport, the amazing setting in East Sussex, the immersion in such a potent, alive, literary and cultural location with its stories and ghosts and energy is what dreams are made of. (Barbara Jenkins, International Writer in Residence, 2015)

 What’s included in the residency:

  • Entrance to the entire Small Wonder programme of around 16 mainstream sessions plus fringe events and workshops
  • All local travel, meals, per diems, hospitality, translation as required
  • £250 stipend paid to the writer directly
  • High quality Bed & Breakfast accommodation close to Charleston for 6 nights

Additional costs not covered by the programme:

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance


By the end of the residency we would like the writer to create a short piece of work in any genre which in some way responds to the festival and / or its setting at Charleston.

Applications and selection

Applications and expressions of interest should be sent in English to the British Council Literature team by Monday 8 May

Applications should include:

  • A biography (no more than 400 words)
  • Links to two pieces of published work (if available in English)
  • A letter of application which should address the following questions (in no more than 800 words):
  • Why are you applying for this residency and how will it benefit your work?
  • What are you particularly interested in exploring as part of the residency? (please describe any specific themes, new connections, research that you are keen to undertake)
  • Do you have any current connections to UK short story writers, festivals or publishers?
  • Have you taken part in any other professional international creative writing residencies before?
  • Please confirm that you are available during the entire period 27 September – 1 October 2017 and that you will be able to access funding to cover your flights, visa and accommodation.

Selection will be a competitive process, based on letters of application. Final decisions will be made by a committee comprised of British Council and Small Wonder representatives. Priority will be given to applications which demonstrate the greatest impact to the writer and their work.

British Council Equal Opportunity and Diversity Statement
The British Council is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and is keen to reflect the diversity of UK society at every level within the organisation. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and will make suitable accommodations for applicants with a disability.

For further information, please contact the British Council Literature team at

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