In 1978 The Workers Educational Association put on a course in Creative Writing at a secondary school in Lydney. It was so popular that when the course finished, a few students continued meeting in each other’s homes and Dean Writers Circle was formed in 1979. The object of the Circle was to provide support, advice and inspiration to the members to improve their writing skills.
In 1980 Dean Writers produced their first anthology Forest Leaves, a modest booklet, typed and illustrated with drawings by members and stapled together under a cardboard cover. They printed a hundred copies which sold out immediately. This was followed by a similar booklet, Forest Leaves 2 in 1981. DWC formed Blue Funk, our own publishing company and Forest Leaves 3,4 and 5 were published at ten-yearly intervals. Further publications by Blue Funk include Christmas Tales and books by individual members.
Over the forty years of its existence the Circle has changed and developed, attracting members from all walks of life, professional writers and novices, appealing to the young as well as the more mature, but our objectives remain the same. In addition to our regular meetings, we have hosted Open Evenings for other writing groups from Gloucestershire and the Wye Valley. In the eighties and nineties we entertained the public with pantomimes, written and produced by fantasy writer, Louise Lawrence and plays, including ‘A Wyntour’s Tale’, written by John Stanley and performed by Lydney ADS, as part of the Armada celebrations. This won the Stroud & District Cup for the best original play in 1989.
George Yorke’s short stories appeared regularly in the Citizen newspaper, which now prints Carol Sheppard’s witty column on Forest life. Carol is also having success as a script-writer. Some of us have read our work on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Severn Sound and Corinium Radio. Members are encouraged to enter competitions, which pushes the dinosaurs to make use of modern technology. We also run competitions, occasional workshops and organise outside speakers, which are open to non-members. Joining a writers circle opens doors and creates friendships with like-minded people. We recommend it!