13 - 20th September 2014

Italy is a magical place that has inspired creative artists for thousands of years. Peralta, a historic hamlet in the foothills of the Tuscan Alpe Apuane, overlooking the Mediterranean, is the perfect setting for a writers retreat. The views are spectacular and there are small private terraces among the olive groves where you can sit and work, as well as beautiful walks through chestnut woods with views of the mountains and the sea.

It is conveniently situated for anyone wanting to extend their holiday to see other parts of Italy - Pisa is a 45 minute drive and there are frequent trains. Siena, San Giminiano and Florence take a couple of hours by local train or car, Rome and Venice are about 5 hours away by Eurostar. The nearest airport is Pisa and the closest railway station is Viareggio.

The course is suitable for both those just starting to write, as well as more experienced writers. Past participants have included someone who had never written before, but went on to write a novel, and a television and children’s writer who wanted a change of direction. There are optional workshops and seminars in the morning and the opportunity to have one to one contact with the tutors in the afternoon. You can, if you wish, simply use the time to write, socialising with the other participants at meal times.

The course will cover Fiction, Memoir and Poetry, though the tutors have experience in Journalism, Film and TV as well. We are flexible about tailoring the course content to the needs of the participants.

What we offer:

Tranquillity and the space to think and write.
Individual consultations with two experienced, internationally published authors. The tutors can offer advice on getting started, how to develop and edit your work, as well as information about getting an agent and getting your work published. This kind of experienced, professional editorial advice is worth the course fee alone!

The best of Tuscan home cooking, wine and olive oil.
All food and wine with meals is included. Transfers to and from the airport on arrival and departure dates within specific hours.
The week includes a visit to a typical Tuscan restaurant in a local hill village.There will be the opportunity for an afternoon excursion to a local town, either Lucca (a medieval walled city with designer shops) or Pietrasanta (the artistic centre of the region, where Michaelangelo stayed when he was working on David).

Partners are welcome - there is a discount for non-participants.
Above all it should be fun. We aim to give everyone a taste of Tuscany as well as the opportunity to develop their creativity.


The Tutors.


Kathleen Jones has been writing since she was a child. She lived for several years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries.

As a journalist Kathleen has written articles and reviews for the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Express, and the TLS, as well as magazines such as SHE and Cosmo.

Kathleen Jones has published more than 11 books - a mixture of biography, short fiction and poetry. Her most recent non-fiction publications are Katherine Mansfield: The Story-teller, published by Penguin and Edinburgh University Press, Norman Nicholson: The Whispering Poet, and a collection of poetry, 'Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21' which won the 2011 Straid Award. Her first novel, The Sun's Companion, was published in 2013 and runner-up for the Kindle Book Review 'Best Historical Fiction' award. She has tutored creative writing at a number of British universities, is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, and was elected as a Fellow of the English Association in 2012 for services to literature. She is also an enthusiastic blogger - writing her own and contributing to several others including The Tuesday Poem and the book review site Book Munch. Kathleen is a specialist in E-publishing and a member of the E-book group Authors Electric. At a time when the internet is one of the major sources of publishing/publicity for a writer, Kathleen offers valuable advice on going it alone and using platforms such as blogs, facebook and twitter.
Kathleen’s blog:




Dennis Hamley has been writing all his life and has published more than 60 books, including titles for children and young adults. He has been published by Deutsch, Scholastic, OUP, Watts, Heinemann, Longman and Walker Books in the UK and Phillips, Delacorte, Dell, Candlewick and Paul Dry Books in the USA. The War and Freddy was short-listed for the Smarties Prize in 1991.

Most recently he has published a six book sequence of medieval mysteries called The Long Journey of Joslin de Lay and a very well reviewed novel, Out of the Mouths of Babes. Ellen's People is a novel set in the First World War which has just been published by Walker Books, (in the USA by Candlewick Press as Without Warning). Two short novels entitled Sixteen Bricks Down, a ‘crime caper' for kids and The Team with a Ghost Player, a football ghost story, will be published by Ransom in September.

He has written many short stories, a form he loves, including two collections of his own stories and edited two collections for OUP. With colleagues from Writers in Oxford, he is setting up a small publishing company.

Dennis read English at Cambridge and then worked in education, as teacher, lecturer and finally as County English Adviser for Hertfordshire. He gained a PhD in 1980. While in Hertfordshire, he founded two residential Creative Writing courses which ran annually for many years: for children, the ‘Lending Our Minds Out' courses and for adults, the ‘Teachers as Writers' courses. These were always over-subscribed.

He took early retirement in 1992 to write full-time, visit schools as an author and work on creative writing with all age-groups, including adults. He came to Oxford in 2006 after his wife died. From 2008 to 2012 he was Tutor for Short Fiction for the Oxford University Undergraduate Creative Writing Diploma and he also mentors new writers, on his own account and for The Oxford Editors, helping them to develop their first drafts to publishable standard.

With Dennis and Kathleen will be Kay Jamieson, Dennis' partner, who will be running a painting course alongside the writing course. Kay and Dennis first met in 2007, on the towpath of the Oxford Canal. They have been together now for six years. In June 2013 they secretly eloped and were married in Gretna Green.

Kay Jamieson was born in Christchurch, New Zealand but spent her childhood on the rugged West Coast, where the proximity of mountains, lakes, rainforest and sea established her love of painting. After she took on family and work commitments she nevertheless continued to paint, developing new interests in portraiture and life drawing. She also studied art history and tutored adult classes in drawing. She was for many years a member of the very active Ashburton (NZ) Society of Arts which held workshops and large annual exhibitions.

Although mainly self-taught she later studied painting at Aoraki Polytechnic School of Art in South Canterbury. Her work has been exhibited in several NZ galleries in both group and solo exhibitions, including the National Portrait Gallery in Wellington.

Since living and working in Oxford, Kay has exhibited annually in the Oxfordshire Artweeks, and has exhibited in many local art venues, including solo exhibitions in Linacre College, Oxford and the Art Café, and group exhibitions at the Jam Factory, the Bury Knowle group and Worton Park. In 2013 and 2014 she had solo exhibitions in the new gallery space at the Oxfordshire Central Library, Oxford.

Kay paints in a variety of media but recently she has used mainly acrylic. She has painted many landscapes and seascapes, both in New Zealand and Britain. The former include her Pacific series and studies of the Southern Alps: the latter include many set in Skye and on the Oxford Canal. She has also done much figure-work and portraiture.


"It really was a super course in every way and the tutors were a perfect team . "

"Thanks for a terrific week and experience."

"When you think you had only a week to show us Italy, its food, and turn us into writers, you did it all."

Email for more info.

Peralta Information