Why not join the SWWJ? By Ann Evans

L-R:Francesca Burgess, Barbara Cluff, Elaine Roberts,
Maxine Burns, Ann Evans, Elaine Everest,
Vivienne Hampshire. 

The SWWJ stands for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Established in 1894 it's the oldest British society for professional women writers. And they actively welcome new members.

Now before all you male writers and non-journalists tune out, you'll be interested to know that men are eligible to join as Associate Members and you don't have to be a journalist.

You do have to be a writer however – a published writer, although the society will be launching a 'Writer's Début' for unpublished writers on 1st October this year.  

While welcoming new members. the SWWJ does have high standards, their mission statement being:

“The Society aims to encourage literary achievement, to uphold professional standards, to promote social contact with fellow writers and to defend the dignity and prestige of the writing profession in all its aspects.”

All sentiments that any self respecting writer will acknowledge and support.

The benefits of being part of the SWWJ are so worthwhile. For one thing, simply being a member shows that you are a professional writer; additionally full members and associate members receive a press card that gives you access to all kinds of events, places and exhibition. 

You receive the society's in-house magazine, The Woman Writer four times a year. It's packed full of news, markets, competitions, member's book reviews, articles and more.

 There's also an emailed newsletter providing up to date news. 

You can attend society gatherings throughout the year to socialise, network, listen to guest speakers and take part in celebrations and presentations.

That's not all. The society offers a manuscript appraisal service and Scriptora – an assisted publishing facility open to members. They run a variety of writing competitions with trophies, certificate and cash prizes awarded. Plus a prize giving ceremony in London.

Annual fees for full membership are £50, £40 for overseas members. Male associate members £45, £35 for overseas members. There's a £25 membership fee for friends and supporters. All the details are on the website.

Richard Combes of ALCS
To uphold the professional standards and integrity of the society, there is a criteria for joining. Full and associate members must be proposed and seconded by two bona fide writing professionals who have personal knowledge of their work. Other SWWJ members can also propose and second applicants. Their applications are then considered by the SWWJ Council.

I've been a member for over 20 years, and have found that belonging to such a professional society has opened doors and helped my career in a variety of ways. Not least the press card, and being eligible to add 'Member of the SWWJ' on to my email signature.

I've attended quite a few of their gatherings. The most recent was just two weeks ago. It was held in the very grand National Liberal Club in London, with an afternoon cream tea and a talk by Richard Combes, Head of Policy at ALCS - another society that all writers should know about, and be registered for.

Should you become a member of the SWWJ you'll be in illustrious company. Over the years so many famous people have been members or supporters - George Bernard Shaw, Lady Violet Astor, Catherine Cookson, Nina Bowden, Ursula Bloom, Margery Allingham to name a few. 

Joyce Grenfield was society president for 22 years and Lady Longford was Honorary Life President for 25 years until her death in 2002. 

Current Patrons are Lord Quirk, Sir Tim Rice, the Earl of Stockton, Baroness Howard of Lympne (novelist Sandra Howard) and Simon Brett. Victoria Wood CBE was the society's president until her untimely death last year. Ann Widdicombe is the new Hon Life President, taking over from Shirley Williams who stepped down in 2014.

Take a look at the SWWJ's website to learn more: http://www.swwj.co.uk

Find them also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SWWJ-288593147853678/

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SWWJ


Anonymous said…
I am ashamed to admit I hadn't heard of the SWWJ before so this is a welcome revelation. It sounds a very impressive organisation, with so many well- known literary figures among its members. I'll certainly read up about it. Maybe I'll pluck up the courage to apply...

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