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The National Association of Writers' Groups

HomeAbout NAWG ♦ The History of NAWG

The History of NAWG

Here is a brief history of NAWG by former treasurer Raymond Wilson. You can also listen to an interview with chairman Pam Fish, which also covers the NAWG beginnings and details of NAWGFest.

The National Association of Writers' Group was formed out of the Biddick Writers Group in Washington, Tyne & Wear in 1995 when we were invited to attend an evening of poetry as part of the Durham Literary Festival. We were promised to be introduced to other budding writers and to enjoy an evening of local poetry.

In the event we were not introduced to anyone and the local poets all came from Wales and some of the Welsh Poets read their poems in the Welsh Language. We enjoyed the Welsh Poets; but it was not what we had been promised.

A few days later Denise Robertson ran a workshop for Biddick Writers Group and she said she was disappointed at the way the Durham Literary Festival treated our writing group and she suggested that Writing Groups in the UK should have more power to their elbow and she said we should start to form an Association. She then made out a cheque for £200 to cover our costs in mailing Writing Groups throughout the UK.

At the next meeting of Biddick Writers, Brian Lister, who was then Secretary of our Group arrived with a flip chart and expounded on how we should set up an Association. We had to divide the UK into thirteen areas, corresponding to those already in being by the Art's Councils and each area was to have their own regional editor. He then suggested that we send out a mail shot to all groups we could identify and ask them to register with us for the sum of £1.

After receiving a good response a constitution was drawn up and an executive committee formed. Because the Association started with the Biddick Writers Group the officers of that group formed the first executive committee, namely Betty Berentemfel, Chairman, Brian Lister, Secretary, Raymond Wilson, Treasurer, Jack Orrell, Publicity. A letter was then sent out inviting all those groups, who had registered to join as members on payment of an annual subscription.

It must have been about eight years ago that I suffered my first bout of nerves. Brian came to a meeting suggesting that we hold a Festival of Writing; that we book a college in Durham for a weekend, when the students are on holiday. At the time we were running the association with minimum funds. However Brian in his best charm offensive, won me over and after running successful Festivals for the past eight years, proved that Brian's foresight was deadly accurate.

The above tells you why the Association was run from the North East of England in its early years. This has now changed as the original committee decided that the executive committee should have far more import from other parts of the country. So today the centre of gravity has moved south to Yorkshire, where a new team of executives has carried on where the original committee left off.

— By Raymond Wilson.

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Author: Kevin Machin Date: August 6, 2014 8:14 am
Categories: About NAWG Tags: history
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