26 April 2023
Rose spoke to the Sixth Form about her remarkable multi-faceted career, in which she has so far penned sixteen novels, five short story collections, her bestselling memoir, ‘Rosie’, and a children’s book, with a story for very young children and a contemporary novel, ‘Always and Forever’, being published later this year. Her novels and short stories have been published in 27 countries and she has won a great many prizes and awards, including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Award, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the UK South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature. Rose was made a CBE in 2007 and a Dame in 2020 for her services to writing.
Rose spoke fondly about her time at Francis Holland Junior School and of her happy memories of her time here, which have remained with her for life. Rose remembers her kind teachers, doing well at FHS and being very content. Much has changed since Rose’s time here but Rose greatly enjoyed seeing the extent to which FHS has grown and developed, and was equally delighted to see the familiar playground and the stained-glass windows in the senior hall. Rose emphasised the encouragement she received from her teachers at FHS to write and channel her creativity and energy into stories. She went on to reveal a little about her process in writing historical fiction, how research and travel help her write descriptively and accurately about settings, and how she creates such complex and compelling characters. We were even lucky enough to hear—in a world exclusive—an extract from ‘Absolutely and Forever,’ published this September. The Sixth Formers asked insightful questions and received hugely helpful tips for writing both short stories and novels.
As well as chairing the 2023 judging panel for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize at the University of Cambridge, Rose is also judging another exciting competition: FHS’s inaugural Dame Rose Tremain Short Story Prize 2023! This annual prize, sponsored, judged and awarded by Rose herself at Prizegiving in July, is open to girls from Years 7-13. Head of Literacy, Ms Shevah, who established the prize, announced the shortlist yesterday. Well done and good luck to the ten writers who made it on to the shortlist.
Thank you so much to Rose for such an inspirational visit and for her involvement in this wonderful prize. It’s been a privilege to hear how her time at FHS helped her achieve such incredible success and, in turn, we look forward to seeing how Rose’s work will inspire our many budding authors in their own creative writing!