Award-winning writer poet & artist
Though imaginings in her head led her to make up bedtime stories for her younger sister, as a child growing up in 1950s/60s Essex Wendy’s love of drawing and colouring patterns, led to dreams of being an artist. However, frequently labelled as shy at school, art was not deemed a suitable job choice when she left school at fifteen, and she was directed to a Business Studies course, destined for office life. Her artistic dream was achieved after completing a BSc in Textile Design at UMIST, Manchester in her mid-twenties. She worked as a textile designer for Courtaulds Home Textiles for seven years, latterly as Commercial Design Manager, before going freelance, after becoming a mother.
By then she was living in West Yorkshire, and in her mid-forties she gained an MSc in Textile Technology for Textile Designers at Huddersfield University, followed by a PGCE for post-sixteens. This led to teaching various crafts in adult education, alongside freelance design work (and some office work). Meanwhile, having repeated the making up of stories during her son’s early years (oral not written, as they walked in the local countryside with her bearded collie Tess) Wendy started writing, initially adult short stories, submitting them to women’s magazines, collecting a set of rejection slips.
It was after realizing the stories she wanted to write were increasingly about children, for children, that some rejection slips contained encouraging feedback, helping her to learn the craft of how to weave a tale. Inspired by the Stone Age Clovis people and images of sabretooth cats, with a lot of research, the writing of Like A Brother began. After rejections from sixteen literary agents through 2012, with lots of rewriting between submissions, the finished novel was entered in the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2013. It won and (after more editing) was published April 2014 with a new title Brave.
Wendy returned to her Essex roots in 2010, after 34 years in Yorkshire (she considers herself half Essex/half Yorkshire, though isn’t sure which half is what). Daily walks with Lola her labradoodle - in the countryside and along the beach - intensified an interest in and concern for the natural world. Having ignored it to begin with, she started picking up plastic litter during beach walks in March 2015. Unlike most people, she brought home much of the litter, washed it, and used it for inspiration, for both art and writing. A journal of the walks became the foundation for her dissertation, for the MA Wild Writing: Literature and the Environment, graduating with distinction in 2018 at the University of Essex after studying part-time in her mid-sixties. She hopes to develop the manuscript into a publishable book.
After the MA, Wendy started writing more poetry, has had some haiku published. In 2021 she received Arts Council DYCP funding for developing the creative practice of writing eco-poetry. A collection of the poems has been submitted for possible publication. One poem has been accepted for Autumn 2022 publication in the 7th issue of Fenland Poetry Journal. Since 2016 Wendy has been involved with Essex Book Festival, from leading writing workshops on eco topics - for children and for adults – to demonstrating/making hundreds of origami cranes, and volunteering at some events. In July 2022 she will lead a Rewriting the Archive workshop at Essex Records Office on local historical flooding.
The natural world continues to be Wendy’s main source of inspiration, with a belief in the benefits of humans’ connectedness to the non-human world. That we are part of nature, not apart from it.
The inspiration might be visual - a rare moth on marshland, the outline of a tree. Or a sound - skein of geese honking overhead, barking muntjac. Or an article in a journal, cutting from a newspaper. Or one of the random stories that meander through her head.
There are more ideas and works-in-progress, writing and art/textile art projects - provoked by the plight of the planet, celebrating the wonders of nature, but also about being human, and sometimes about dogs. And there is always more plastic litter to pick up.
And who knows what she’ll be doing in her mid-seventies …
Member of The Society of Authors
Member of The Poetry Society
Member of Mosaic Poetry Stanza, Colchester