Dr Richard Hoffman, a medical scientist and Registered Nutritionist at the University of Hertfordshire, is the co-creator of the Caussarieu Writers’ Centre. He has led cancer research at Cambridge University’s Medical Research Council - one of the world’s leading research institutes - and his work has featured regularly in the British Medical Journal. During a recent week-long residency in Autumn 2018, he wrote this article demystifying the relation between alcohol and health: it gained over 36,000 readers online before appearing in The Independent newspaper. He is the author of The Mediterranean Diet - Health and Science and over a hundred scientific and popular articles on health through diet. His articles on healthy eating and drinking have attracted almost 700,000 readers at The Conversation. He is resident regularly at the Centre, working on his forthcoming book for a popular audience.
In September 2018, the inaugural Writer’s Residency hosted oral historian Norma Buckley (right), who came from rural Ireland to work for a week with Hoffman on their forthcoming book together, Thine Eyes of Mercy Towards Us - The Spirituality of an Irish Village.
At 77, Norma is a celebrated oral historian and heritage activist in North Cork, Ireland. Her community videos on landscape heritage are hosted by the National Museum of Ireland here. She was a contributor to the Atlas of the Irish Famine, published worldwide by University College Cork (and held on display at the White House in the USA!). With a diploma in Environment Studies from the National University of Ireland, Norma spent many years on the Board of the state-run Blackwater Resource Development agency in southern Ireland.
Norma has won numerous European Union grants for heritage restoration in her local community of Glenville. Her work has helped preserve the built environment - rebuilding stone walls, reopening forgotten roads and paths, renovating and protecting ancient sites of worship in the landscape, commissioning new heritage signage, and creating a community forest… She also restores intangible heritage by recording folklore, giving heritage talks in schools and creating exhibitions and displays on issues like the Irish Famine, colonialism and the return of Irish migrants and their descendants. See here for Norma’s latest short film, produced by her heritage colleague Tony Kennedy.
The next Writer’s Residency hosted Madeleine Achard (left), playwright and director of Embarcadere Theatre company in Leucate, Mediterranean France. Madeleine recharged her batteries at Caussarieu over Christmas, after a successful run of her latest theatre production, Les Cles du Chateau - a processional, outdoor performance of the medieval and feminist heritage of Leucate. At Caussarieu, she worked on an adaptation of Shakespeare for the modern French stage. Her stay included a visit by Marie-Anne Bernaute, the Bordeaux artist who bequeathed to Caussarieu many of the works she painted at the property before moving to Bordeaux city.
In Spring 2019, Caussarieu hosted Dr Mark Singleton (right), a Senior Research Fellow at London’s SOAS (School of African and South Asian Studies). Mark is one of the world’s leading experts on the long history of mind-body practices for well-being, and spiritual traditions involving the body. At Caussarieu he made plans for an English translation of Hoffman’s book Savoir-faire des Anciens. It will include extensive resources and practical advice by Mark on the life changes needed to tackle the world’s climate emergency. Richard Hoffman will contribute on healthy eating that respects the environment ‘from field to fork’.
In Summer 2019, Caussarieu hosted Swedish illustrator Ilena Williams. Ilena came to live and interact for a week with the Centre’s two cats, Dharmie and Blanchie, who were abandoned as newborns on the wilding reserve by their mother. With help from the two animals, she made this charming sketchbook diary from their point of view!
Provisional plans are for a visit in 2020 by Dr Amy Sullivan from Macalester College, Minneapolis, USA (below, left). At Caussarieu, She will take a break from lecturing to finish her forthcoming book on the opioid addiction crisis. Amy is developing an online archive of audio interviews, artifacts, and ephemera related to the history of opioid use, abuse, treatment and recovery in Minnesota.
Amy may be followed by the widely-published oral historian Nancy Mackay (above, right), editor of the Practicing Oral History series at Routledge and Reviews Editor for the American Oral History Association. A frequent visitor to Europe, Nancy has worked as far afield as China and her home base is in Berkeley, California.
After Nancy, the next Writer in Residence may be the 17-year-old Dublin poet and political activist Lucy Ording (right). See a video of some of her political reporting work here.