Eleanor Catton to set up a grant that gives writers 'time to read' — 04.09.14

At a stage in her life where she can support herself with her writing, Eleanor Catton is planning to set up a grant to give writers the luxury of time in which to read and develop their craft.

Eleanor Catton has recently been awarded the New Zealand Post best fiction and people's choice awards for her Man Booker prize winning novel, The Luminaries. On acceptance, Catton announced that she intended to use her winnings of $15,000 to help other writers by setting up a grant.

At the awards ceremony she spoke of now being in the "extraordinary position of being able to make a living from my writing alone, something I never dreamed was possible", and so it "seems only right to do as Emery Staines" - a character from The Luminaries - "would do, and start giving this fortune away". 

The grant intends to give writers the opportunity to take time out to read. "Writers are readers first; indeed our love of reading is what unites us above all else that has not yet been named "in case a nice philanthropist hears about this and would like to lend their name and support to the project" she says.   

The idea of the grant echoes the opportunity that the Arts Foundation were honoured to have been able to give her in 2010 on presentation of a New Generation Award - something she credits to giving her the time and space to concentrate on writing 'The Lumineries'. 

 "The investment of the Arts Foundation in my writing future was elevating to me both professionally and personally. The New Generation Award allowed me to work uninterrupted for nearly six months, and immerse myself fully in 1860s New Zealand; what's more, the support gave me the confidence to aim higher, to be braver, and to risk more. I hope that Arts Foundation Patrons and supporters enjoy the book, and take extra pride in knowing that they helped in its creation."