Literary Workshops 2019

Travel & Nature Writing with Philip Hoare

Travel & Nature Writing with Philip Hoare
(Where are we in the world?)

Philip Hoare

Whiddy Island

Tue 17 July to Thu 19 July 2018

09.30 - 12.30


Age Range

A sense of place: writing about location and nature.

Remember that enchantment you felt as a child, when the world opened up to you, and how you made sense of it in the stories you invented, and the stories you were told? In this three-day course, we will explore how to write about the natural environment, and ourselves, and how to regain that sense of enchantment. We are irrevocably part of the natural world, but the 21st century threatens to distance us from it. How can we re-establish that connection in writing about place? Philip Hoare will look at the way we intuit a sense of place and the world through words.

Drawing in particular in his lifelong yet conflicted fascination with the sea – our last wilderness, and yet an element on which we seem to turn our backs; a place which gives as well as takes life – and with key readings and examples from journalism and creative writing – and even social media – Philip will explore the way personal experience, memoir and description can come together in a satisfying creative act that extends our understanding and our enjoyment: sensing, observing, recording, writing.

Participants will be invited to bring a short piece of writing of their own (no longer than 1,000 words), either fiction or non-fictional, and drawing on a personal experience of travel or the natural world, with opportunities to read aloud and discuss their work. Over the three days of workshops, we will examine ways in which we can develop our literary sense of ourselves within the stories we evolve: how they speak to the notions of where we came from, and where we are going; how we invent our own myths as a way of explaining our place in the world. 

Each day participants will be invited to bring new, short pieces of writing for discussion, as we develop our ideas together. The three-hour sessions may involve outdoor work and short walks for inspiration – channelling our inner child, through the maturity of our adult knowing. And along the way, we will discover how to weave facts and fables, research and intuition with imagination and experience to create vivid pieces of writing and story-telling – either for purely personal satisfaction, or perhaps with a view to publication. 

Philip Hoare's book Leviathan or, The Whale won the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. It was followed in 2013 by The Sea Inside. His new book, RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR, shortlisted for the 2018 Stanford Travel Writing Prize, is published by 4th Estate, and ranges from Cape Cod to the West of Ireland in search of stories of the sea, its people, and its animals. An experienced broadcaster, curator and filmmaker, he wrote and presented the BBC film The Hunt for Moby-Dick, filmed in the UK, New Bedford, Nantucket and the Azores, and he also directed three films for BBC’s Whale Night. He is a regular contribution to the Guardian, and is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, UK, and curator of the Moby-Dick Big Read,, a free online audio version of Melville's book which has received 5 million hits to date.

Twitter: @philipwhale

The photo of Philip Hoare at Cape Cod is by Dennis Minsky

The travel & nature writing workshop will take in the Bank House on Whiddy Island and the workshop fee includes the daily ferry to and from Whiddy Island.