ILKLEY Manor House has partnered with local writer, Melanie Shearn, to launch an inaugural Writer in Residence programme.

For the next nine months Melanie will write in the Manor House at different times of the day, week and year and will respond in artistic ways to the Manor House and its events with a view to creating new fictional work.

“To write in a building in such a central and beautiful setting, where stone has been laid upon an ancient monument, is immediately awe-inspiring. I’d rather write a love story than a horror story, so starting on Valentine’s Day sets a heartwarming tone to the writing residency. My fingertips are wriggling,” said Melanie Shearn.

Melanie favours a spontaneous and instinctive approach to writing and art, and previously handwrote live in the Manor House at an Ilkley Literature Festival Fringe event last October. “Chatting with visitors inspired much of the writing that went into a handmade artists’ book,” she said.

Melanie added: “ I’ve always been drawn to Ilkley’s Manor House. It sits up on Castle Hill, tucked away, hidden, historical, protected; a little gem in a Courtyard whose heart is being renewed and restored and is becoming something else.”

Melanie Shearn has lived in Ilkley for twenty years, holds a PhD in interdisciplinary Gender Studies from the University of Leeds and ran a Guardian Top 10 book blog.

She was previously a trustee for Ilkley and District Good Neighbours and is a member of Ilkley Arts. She grew up in a bushveld valley in Johannesburg and her most meaningful job was as an election monitor for South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Ilkley Manor House will also be offered as a new wedding venue this year.