Bringing together four incredible writers who all have strong links with Downe House – three alumnae and one former member of staff – to talk about their career paths and love of writing – was the recipe for an uplifting and inspirational celebration of writing for the whole school to mark the end of the Lent term.

The panel included author and broadcaster, Clare Balding (DH 1988); author in two genres under two different names, Cesca Major (DH 2000); Guardian columnist, Marina Hyde (DH 1992) and the author of both Adult and Young Adult fiction, Virginia Macgregor (former Teacher of English at Downe House and AGN Housemistress).


The virtual event began with Clare Balding announcing the winners of the DHSA Short Story competition and a very special moment for the Overall Winner, Poppy in the Upper Sixth who had an impromptu one-to-one discussion with Clare about her winning story, Next which you can read here. Our congratulations go to Poppy and all the winners and runners-up. Find out more about the 2021 DHSA Short Story competition here

In the conversation that followed, the four writers answered and discussed a series of questions posed by the girls and staff on what inspires them, how they became writers, their top tips for budding writers, their biggest challenge and perhaps most entertainingly, their favourite memories of Downe House!

Our thanks go to all the panellists for taking the time to join us and for all their humour and great advice.

In Virginia MacGregor’s words,

Spending a few hours yesterday, albeit virtually, talking with a group of women writers I admire to a school full of young women and their awesome teachers, gave me a real lift and reminded me why I do what I do, why I love it so much and also that there are brighter days ahead.



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