Supporting Female Writers


In 2021, Mercury Musical Developments and The Hosking Houses Trust collaborated on a special pilot residency programme for Writers of Musical Theatre Book and/or Lyrics, and/or Music. Susannah Pearse and Caitlyn Burt took up this opportunity to stay for 3-4 weeks in an idyllic, well-equipped cottage in Clifford Chambers, Stratford-Upon-Avon.

In 2022 MMD and The Hosking Houses Trust offered the opportunity for three female, female-identifying or non-binary writers to each take up a residency at the cottage for one month, at any time of the year. Anne-Marie Piazza, Sarah Middleton and Cordelia O’Driscoll were chosen for the residency programme in 2022.

Thanks to funding from the Jane Goodman Legacy Fund, there was a bursary of £1000 for each, along with mentorship from a female/female identifying musical theatre writer who had previously spent time writing at the cottage. The writers were required to write a short evaluation of their time at the cottage and also take part in a sharing of their work with MMD members, either online or live.

‘My residency at Church Cottage afforded me the much-needed time and space to work on the second draft of my musical adaptation….  I walked around the village, before returning, again and again, to the desk and the house and the blank page, until finally, happily, it was less and less blank, and more and more full… I was able to entirely throw myself into it, and the absence of distraction, duty or diversion on a daily basis for three blissful weeks was the crucial element which enabled me to finish the draft.’ Susannah Pearse on her Residency

The Hosking Houses Trust was founded by Sarah Hosking whose mission was to provide a ‘Room of One’s Own’ in which women could write. Since 2002 more than 100 writers and artists have stayed in the cottage, writing poetry, novels and plays and making art for exhibitions. They include Timberlake Wertenbaker, Joan Bakewell, Salley Vickers, Maggie Gee, Chinonyerem Odimba and Wendy Cope. Marina Warner has been patron of the Trust since 2006. It is only a walk across the fields from The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and in the heart of Shakespeare country with wonderful walks and good restaurants and pubs nearby.

MMD recognises that pro-active encouragement of diversity within the membership and activities will make a valuable contribution towards the development of the artform we support, pushing creative boundaries and ensuring that the greatest possible range of voices is reflected in the work created. We seek to make appropriate adjustments to offer equity of opportunity within talent development selection processes and opportunities, such as this one, and aim to amplify under-represented voices that might not otherwise be heard within the wider musical theatre sector.

Further support and residency opportunities for female identifying writers for 2023 will be announced shortly.