In the footsteps of Jane Austen
Chawton House in rural Hampshire is a very special place. It was not only the home of Jane Austen’s brother, now open to the public as a visitor attraction, but is also renowned as a centre for early women’s writing. It is where the SWWJ keeps its collection of silver cups and trophies, many of which are presented each year to our competition winners and then returned to their permanent home in Chawton’s display cabinet. Our recent group visit was a wonderful occasion. A guided tour of the old Elizabethan manor house, including the magnificent library packed with old books by female authors, was followed by a lovely lunch in the courtyard and a wander around the glorious grounds and gardens. We have plans to work more closely with Chawton in the future as it extends its programme of talks, panels and events, and hope to soon be able to display our leaflets and membership forms in the foyer. If you have not been to Chawton, or to visit Jane Austen’s own much smaller home in the adjacent village, put them on your list!
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.
The SWWJ is the UK's longest-established Society for professional women writers. Founded in 1894 by newspaper proprietor Joseph Snell Wood, the Society has grown to become an international association, and is affiliated to women's associations worldwide. In 2004, the Society took the decision to invite men who are published writers to join us as Associate Members. We also welcome aspiring writers and non-writing Friends from across the publishing industry and beyond.
In 2017 Baroness Floella Benjamin agreed to become our new President, following in the footsteps of the late and much missed Victoria Wood.
Full membership is open to women writers of all ages who are bona fide professional workers in literature, drama or journalism.
Men who are bona fide professional workers in literature, drama or journalism may join the Society as Associate Members.
Supporters of the Society and its aims, including aspiring writers and others engaged in allied forms of work.
A special one-year membership open to new and unpublished writers, including a full manuscript critique. £145 To apply, please download and complete the form and return it to the address shown with your fee.
Benefits of membership
The Woman Writer
Email Information Loop
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
In-house and Open Competitions
Manuscript Appraisal Service
The right to use the letters MSWWJ after your name
Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham, OBE DL (Floella Benjamin)
Sir Tim Rice, The Earl of Stockton, Simon Brett, OBE, Baroness Howard of Lympne (novelist Sandra Howard).
Lady Antonia Fraser, Victoria Glendinning, Jacqueline Wilson, Peter Lovesey, Keith Taylor, Michelle Harriman, Penny Holroyde.
Doris Corti, Valerie Dunmore, Joyce Elsden, Sylvia Kent, Jennie Lisney, Jean Morris, Mary Rensten, Jean Marian Stevens.
Council Officers & responsibilities 2019
Minutes Secretary: Vacant
The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS)
Ensuring authors receive fair payment for copying and other secondary uses of their work.
Internationally respected research and learning centre for the study of early women's writing from 1600 to 1830.
The National Liberal Club
Venue for many of our celebratory events and for Council meetings from 2018.