Arvon Foundation

Totleigh Barton Manor, Sheepwash, Devon, one of the writing centres of the Arvon Foundation.

Arvon is a charitable organisation in the United Kingdom that promotes creative writing. One of Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisations, its national office is in Free Word, a centre for literature, literacy and free expression in Farringdon, London. Andrew Kidd is CEO and Artistic Director, Jeremy Treglown Chair of the Board of Trustees.


Arvon was founded in 1968 by two young poets, John Fairfax and John Moat. It runs residential writing courses at writing houses in three rural locations: Totleigh Barton, a medieval farmhouse in Devon; The Hurst, a manor house in Shropshire, which formerly belonged to the playwright John Osborne; and Ted Hughes's former home, Lumb Bank, a 17th-century mill-owner's house hear Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. The courses, some open to all-comers, others specially organized with schools or partner charities, provide an inspirational space and dedicated time to practise the art of writing with guidance from published authors. Arvon also offers retreats, whether in the company of tutors or self-directed.

Over the years, Arvon tutors have included Bernardine Evaristo, Simon Armitage, Mark Haddon, Colin Grant, Willy Russell, Ian McEwan, Andrew Motion, Angela Carter, Arnold Wesker, Ted Hughes, Ali Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Rankin, George Szirtes, Lindsay Clarke, Will Self and many others. The charity fundraises to ensure that people unable to afford the full course fee can be helped to attend a course:

For ten years, until April 2019, Ruth Borthwick, was Chief Executive and Artistic Director. She was succeeded by Andrew Kidd, a former publisher of Picador and co-founder of the Rathbones Folio Prize. Each of the regional writing houses has its own director: Natasha Carlish (The Hurst), Mary Morris (Totleigh Barton) and Rosie Scott (Lumb Bank: acting director Helen Meller).

The Board of Trustees currently consists of Judith Abbott, Lee Bilson, Alison Flood, Neil Harris, Ashley Holloway, Christian Lewis, Nick Makoha, Meriel Schindler, Jon Teckman, Jeremy Treglown (Chair) and Andy Wimble.


The Arvon Foundation used to run the biennial Arvon International Poetry Competition, which was first judged in 1980 by Ted Hughes, Charles Causley, Seamus Heaney and Philip Larkin. In 2010 the judges were Carol Ann Duffy, Elaine Feinstein and Sudeep Sen.


External linksEdit

  • Official website
  • Charity Commission. Arvon Foundation, registered charity no. 306694.