Inspiring young writers with the magic of Shakespeare

James Hartley with Charlotte Bean, 9, and Annabelle Froud, 10.

By Ben Lugg, Stratford Herald, Stratford-Upon- Avon

An imaginative author is hoping to use the magic of Shakespeare’s Schoolroom to inspire local schoolchildren to take an interest in creative writing and the Bard.

James Hartley’s new novel, The Invisible Hand: Shakespeare’s Moon Act I, follows the time travelling adventures of two teenage boarding school pupils, wrapped up in the story of Macbeth.

Earlier this month James hosted a special creative writing taster workshop at Stratford’s Guildhall, during which pupils were invited to take part in a competition with a very special prize.

Older pupils will be able to submit entries for a short story competition, whilst younger ones will draw scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

The winning entries will win another workshop from James for their whole class, but just as importantly, the author has promised to include the winning pupils as characters in his next book.

He intends to write another four novels in the series, each based around a different Shakespeare play.

James’ visit is part of a project called Creative Will, which is intended to nurture creativity in local schoolchildren.

James said: “I want to use the inspiration that is in this building to encourage the children to take an interest in creative writing. I thought the children were fantastic at the taster workshop, really engaged and imaginative, they always come up with new and different ideas. Children’s imaginations are endless.

“I believe passionately in the power of creativity, which can help children in so many different ways with their learning.  And there is no stronger influence on the craft of storytelling and language than the legacy of Shakespeare.  For young minds we need to make Shakespeare relevant, approaching it with the same energy and passion that the Bard himself had.  I’m very excited to be working with Shakespeare’s Schoolroom, which as a writer and English teacher is one of the most exciting places to visit imaginable.”

Sarah Jervis Hill, from Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, added: “We want to bring to life the inspiration that has lived and breathed in the Schoolroom for hundreds of years and rekindle the magic from when Shakespeare not only attended school here, but also had his first professional theatrical experiences.  We’ll be doing this through a programme for children called Creative Will, which hopes to nurture and develop creativity in lots of different ways.