RSL Brookleaze Grants

Awarded by our Council, the RSL Brookleaze Grants support writers (novelists, playwrights, poets, short story writers) who need time away from their normal lives – to take sabbaticals from their jobs, for example, or to travel abroad for research – to write.

At school I always enjoyed writing and telling stories, but common sense told me that few working class kids had careers as authors or playwrights. I fell into theatre by accident, and here I began to see an expanding horizon of creative opportunity. The majority of theatre writers and directors still hail from privileged backgrounds, and it took me years to shrug off my learned inferiority and believe that I could hold my own with the theatre elite. My experience has driven me to encourage everyone to express their creativity, that’s why I’m passionate about community involvement in the arts. I’m delighted to receive the RSL Brookleaze Grant, it means more than the money, it means the work I’ve done over a period of twenty years has been acknowledged, and it will encourage me to continue writing popular, accessible drama.

Chris Monks (pictured, top)
RSL Brookleaze Grant recipient, Autumn 2016

Playwriting is often lonely work, and it can often be hard to find the funds to provide you with everything you need to write the best play you can. This grant has funded essential travel to Ireland, and it’s made me feel a little less alone. I’m so grateful.
Camilla Whitehill (pictured, bottom)

Other grants you may be interested in applying for:


2016

Winners

Camilla Whitehill (£1000, Autumn 2016)
Camilla is currently on attachment with the Bush Theatre, as part of their Emerging Writers Group. Commissioned by them, she is writing In This House That We Have Built, a play set in Ballyvadlea in County Tipperary, and based loosely on the true story of a woman who was burned alive there in the 1800s. Her RSL Brookleaze Grant will enable her to journey to Ballyvadlea, and to spend a week there, getting to know the place and researching her story.


Chris Monks 
(£1000, Autumn 2016)
Chris will spend his £1,000 grant buying time away from teaching to concentrate on his current project, Wainwright in Love, a play with music. The Lake District author, illustrator and guide Alfred Wainwright has a reputation as a cranky, taciturn recluse. However, he was not only a fell-wandering obsessive, but a deeply complex romantic. Telling his story in the context of his two marriages and his relationships with women, Chris says, reveals a very different man. Wainwright in Love will show the inner life of a Northern Genius. Monks hopes it will be produced at Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick, a town Wainwright knew well.

Ben Musgrave (£1,000, Spring 2016)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will enable Ben to travel to Bangladesh and India to research his new play for Tara Arts, Indigo Giant (working title), planned for production at the new Tara Theatre in 2017. The play will explore how Indigo planters in 19th century India, greedy for Indigo (that magical, mysterious, fickle substance), exploited Bengali peasant farmers – until they rebelled in 1859. Out of that rebellion came DB Mitra’s extraordinary and incendiary play, Nil Darpan (The Indigo Mirror), which is still a key text of Bengali theatre. Indigo Giant will be, in part, a response to Nil Darpan. Ben will travel to the key territories of the Indigo trade, in search of Nil Darpan, and in search of the stories and places that inspired it. Ben grew up in Bangladesh, India and the UK. His first play, Pretend You Have Big Buildings, won the inaugural Bruntwood Prize in 2006, and since then he has written many plays, including the award-nominated His Teeth, and last year’s Crushed Shells and Mud. 


John O’Donoghue
(£1,000, Spring 2016)
John is grateful to all at the Royal Society of Literature and to the RSL Council for awarding him an RSL Brookleaze Grant to continue work on his novel, The Palace of Wisdom. The grant will enable him to spend time in Northampton, researching the poets John Clare and Robert Lowell, who were both patients of the Northampton Lunatic Asylum (St Andrew’s in Lowell’s day).

Aisha Zia (£1,000 Spring 2016)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will support Aisha to write and develop her new play Ground (working title) while she is working with award winning theatre company Common Wealth, and Eastern Angles Theatre Company in Peterborough. The play considers the fallout of capitalism and our personal struggles within it through the lens of food. It will be staged in the basement of a Tesco Extra. Aisha’s previous plays include No Guts, No Heart, No Glory, a play about Muslim female boxers staged in real boxing gyms (winner of the Scotsman Fringe First award, 2014), and Our Glass House, a play about domestic abuse staged in disused houses across the country (winner of the Highly Commended award from Amnesty Internationals Freedom of Expression Awards, 2013). Both plays were immersive, site-specific and successfully engaged none-theatre audiences.


2015

Winners

Shazea Quraishi, £1250 (Autumn 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will allow Shazea to take time out from teaching and other projects to focus on writing her new poetry collection. Part of this time out includes a week of research and writing at the Museum of Childhood. Shazea lives in London where she works as a writer, translator and creative writing facilitator. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Ten (2010, Bloodaxe), PN Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. Shazea has two collections: The Courtesans Reply (2012, flipped eye) and The Art of Scratching (2015, Bloodaxe).


Dan Powell
, £1250 (Autumn 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant will enable Dan to take time from his teaching work in order to focus on the completion of his latest novel and a new short story collection. It will also provide part of the funding for a research trip in support of his novel. His short stories have appeared across the internet and in numerous print publications, including The Best British Short Stories 2012, Unthology, and The Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015. His debut collection of short fiction, Looking Out of Broken Windows, is published by Salt.

Tom Lee, £2500 (Spring 2015)
The RSL Brookleaze Grant would enable Tom to take a six month sabbatical from his job at King’s College London, and complete his second collection of stories, provisionally titled Big Cat. His stories have appeared in numerous publications including The Sunday Times, Prospect Magazine, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope All Story, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Afsaneh Gray, a small grant (Spring 2015)
The small grant will enable Afsaneh to take a week off from work to focus on the play she is currently writing based on the true story of an unlikely friendship between a British bishop in 19th Century colonial South Africa and his Zulu servant, William Ngidi. Her  previous work has been seen in venues including the Soho Theatre, Bush Theatre, Riverside Studios and V&A Museum, and she was a member of the Summer 2014 Royal Court Studio Group.


2014

Winners

Bethan Roberts: £1,500 (Autumn 2014)
Bethan is working on Cilla & Elvis, a fictional recreation of the early life of Elvis Presley, framed by the story of one of his English fans, Priscilla, who travels to Memphis in search of her estranged mother. The grant will make it possible for Bethan to travel to Tupelo, Mississipi and Memphis, Tennessee, enabling her to evoke the ‘sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures’ of both places. Bethan is the award-winning author of four previous novels.

Benjamin Myers: £1,000 (Autumn 2014)
Currently working on a novel inspired by an 18th-century gang of criminals, ‘the Coiners’, who were led by a charismatic ‘king’, David Hartley, and who made their money by clipping coins to create new ones. Benjamin’s last novel, Pig Iron, won the inaugural Gordon Burn Award, which gives him the use of a cottage in the Scottish borders for three months. The Brookleaze Award will enable him to use this time exclusively for writing, without taking on freelance work.

Laline Paull: £2,500 (Spring 2014)
Laline will conduct two separate research trips – at dusk and dawn of the Arctic night – for her second commissioned novel, to be published by 4th Estate.


2013

Winners

Neil Rollinson Autumn 2013
A poet who has decided to move his focus to prose and wanted the time and space to write a collection of short stories.

Debbie Johnson Spring 2013
Travelled to New York to research her second novel (published by Del Rey UK an imprint of Random House) a follow-up to her first book set in Liverpool and Dublin.