Creative Writing - England

Study Abroad Lewes England

WALK THE CHALK, CHALK THE WALK: Write work inspired by Sussex and the South Downs while hiking its rolling chalk landscape. 

DATES for 2023: May 17 through June 6, 2023 in Lewes, England 
Led by Alex Dawson, Assistant Teaching Professor and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Senior Program Administrator 

Scholarships available for English majors. 

More details here

DEADLINE to apply: March 1, 2023

“Chalk to the south, clay to the north. Sun to the south, rain to the north. Woods to the south, fields to the north. The ridge of the South Downs divides the world into realms of weather, light and color. Underfoot, the track – of fine chalk, pure enough to write with – was glossy with recent rain. Ahead of me, it ran brightly over the hills, dipping from sight before looping back up again.” - Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot


This three week, writing-intensive program is based in Lewes, a hilly sixth century Saxon village with half beam bookshops, cobblestone streets, and an imposing Norman castle, wedged between the chalk cliffs of the Downs, near Brighton (recently named the world's most hipster city, beating out Berlin & Brooklyn) on the south coast of England. The program will combine writing (chalking) with hiking (walking) and visits to local places of interest, including the homes of Virginia Woolf and Rudyard Kipling, Ashdown Forest (the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood), the sky scraping Seven Sisters (a shooting location in Goblet of Fire), and the Long Man of Wilmington (which Neil Gaiman interpreted as the guardian of the gate to Faerie in his Sandman series). We'll also attend a public reading with a celebrated author as part of the Charleston Literary Festival, a play at the Globe Theatre in London, and an intimate sea shanty "concert" by the Wellington Wailers at a 200-year-old bayside pub. Plus a haunted abbey, a town settled by smugglers, Sherlock Holmes' retirement cottage, a ghost walk of the Lanes (Brighton's historic haunted quarter), and a tour of the eclectic houseboats/floating sculptures that populate "the wackiest street in Britain." 

While in Lewes, you'll create, workshop, and declaim written work - ostensibly inspired by your experience(s) in England: the places you visit, the legends you hear, the people you meet - culminating in public reading attended by locals and live streamed for friends and family back home. My own tastes lean toward fable and myth (and, indeed, there are an abundance of such tales centered around the South Downs – black dogs, standing stones, witches, sunken bells, treasure, ghosts, giants, dragons, faeries, King Arthur & The Devil), and while your work may take the form of poetry, non-fiction or fiction, I may (gently) press you to incorporate some local lore. The best of your writing will be combined in a final portfolio, due a few weeks after you return.