Best-seller Jasper Fforde returns to Swindon – the home of his fictional detective, Thursday Next – to host a masterclass at the Richard Jefferies Museum on 22 August.
In September, Richard Skinner, the director of fiction for major publishing house Faber and Faber, will be supporting budding novelists in a Saturday class.
Back in May, when last visiting Swindon for his fan festival the Fforde Ffiesta, Jasper visited the Richard Jefferies Museum. He was so taken by the birthplace of Swindon’s Victorian nature writer that he agreed to return and work with the (Thursday) Next generation of writers.
Jasper’s writing experience in 1988 when he worked behind the scenes on movies such as Goldeneye, Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, and realised he wanted to tell his own stories, not those of others. After 11 year of secret writing and rejection from 76 publishers, The Eyre Affair, featuring the ‘Jurisfiction’ detective Thursday Next, was accepted by Hodder and Stoughton.
The deal was on the proviso that he write a follow-up the following year ‘to a book that was originally expected to be a stand-alone.’ Jasper said: “When you are offered a contract after ten years of effort it is yes to anything, despite me not having the slightest idea what the second book might be about, or even a title.”
Since then he has published 14 novels straddling comedy, sci-fi, thriller and crime, but with the emphasis firmly on silly fun, has sold millions of copies and been mentioned in the same breath as the late Terry Pratchett.
Richard Skinner is a novelist, poet, essayist and writing tutor on the Writing a Novel course at the Faber and Faber Academy. “You will be meeting and talking to like-minded people and doing lots of fun, stimulating writing exercises. I hope you’ll come away from the day feeling positive, curious and ready to have a go.” said Richard.
Both classes are suitable for writers of any experience: Mulberry Arts Writing Masterclass with Jasper Fforde tutoring on Saturday 22 August 2015, 10am to 4pm, whilst Mulberry Arts Writing Fiction with Richard Skinner will be Saturday 5 September 2015 10am to 4pm.
Both take place at the Richard Jefferies Museum and are part of the Mulberry Arts programme funded by Arts Council England.
The Richard Jefferies Museum is next to Coate Water, close to the Sun Inn on the Marlborough Road. Visitors arriving by car are advised to park at Coate Water Country Park and walk to the new entrance. Visitors who require an accessible parking space should contact the museum on 07768 917466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mulberry Arts programme also includes an Art Club for six to 11 year olds, Magic Mondays for families and an autumn elders’ art project.
The building is the birthplace of arguably the first nature writer and ecologist, Richard Jefferies (b. 1848, d. 1887). He was a celebrated Victorian writer with a passion for the countryside and the richness of nature.
Jefferies was a journalist, essayist, novelist and philosopher. He wrote children’s novels such as Wood Magic and Bevis (illustrated by Winnie the Pooh artist E. H. Shepard) and adult books such as Amaryllis at the Fair and the post-apocalyptical After London.
The museum has been owned by the people of Swindon through Swindon Borough Council since 1926. It is run by team of volunteers from the Richard Jefferies Museum Trust – a charitable trust formed in 2013 – and the Richard Jefferies Society.
A grant by the Heritage and Lottery Fund has enabled renovation, new displays and signage and an ambition arts and culture events programme.
The museum is open to the public on Sunday afternoons and second Wednesdays May through September, and additionally for events and clubs. The site comprises the farmhouse (museum), cottage, gardens, orchard, horticultural area and other farm-related buildings.
The Richard Jefferies Museum is next to Coate Water, just up from the Sun Inn on the Marlborough Road. Visitors arriving by car are advised to park at Coate Water and walk to the new entrance. Visitors who require an accessible parking space should contact the museum on 07768 91746.