The Woodfine Young Writers Guild
by Dr. K. Mark Hilliard
The Woodfine Young Writers Guild is a division of the Hilliard Institute for Educational Wellness and Hilliard Press. The purpose is to advance literacy skills and encourage a love for reading and writing in young people.
While a well-recognized organization in England, guilds are not as common in the United States. A guild is an association of artisans, merchants, craftsman, or tradesmen who oversee the practice of their trade so they can pass on their skills, talents, and knowledge to the next generation through mutual aid, teaching, apprenticeship, and a sense of enjoyment in the process. The master of a guild is the organization's head or director and is someone who has proven himself as a master within his or her craft or trade.
Who is Dr. Woodfine?
This Guild is named after Dr. David Woodfine. Dr. Woodfine serves as the master of the Woodfine Young Writers Guild. He is a beloved educator in Oxford, England, and the Chancellor of the Hilliard Institute for Educational Wellness. He served in many roles within the University of Oxford system and taught in other educational systems in England and America. He is the author of five published books, two written for children.
I first met Dr. Woodfine in 2007 while taking part in the Summer Research Institute at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, England. David was a major part of the Institute's development and served as the High Steward of Harris Manchester College at that time. David and I became great friends as I returned over the years to Harris Manchester College for further study and research.
With time, he became an integral member of the Hilliard Institute and raising funds for special projects and educational programs, especially for young people. His background is steeped in training them to learn to love the process of learning and to become who they each wish to be within their chosen careers.
The Guild and Hilliard Press
For many years the Hilliard Press has been publishing children’s books as one of our major ongoing educational projects. But we had never published a children’s book written by a child. In 2017, we began developing the Young Writers Guild concept and published the first Woodfine Young Writers Guild book in 2018: The Four Jupiter Brothers, by Charles E. Hilliard, age ten. His book signing, held at Columbia Academy in Columbia, Tennessee, was a huge success, with over 170 people in attendance.
Because of the initial successful partnership with Columbia Academy in 2018, the Woodfine Young Writers Guild is again partnering with this school to conduct a young writers’ competition beginning this summer through October 2019. The goal for this first major project is to encourage children at a very young age to begin to write, and write well.
The initial competition will include participation by students age 8–12. The winners of the competition will have their stories included in the collection of short stories to be published by the Guild in December 2019. The plan is to expand the competition to include more age groups and additional organizations in 2020.
The foremost objective for the Young Writer’s Guild competition is not one of rivalry, but that of a traditional guild—to pass on skills, talents, and knowledge through mutual aid, teaching, apprenticeship, and a sense of enjoyment in the process.
I look forward to seeing how this Guild, and the love of writing among young people, will grow in the coming years.
Compiled and Interviewed by Hannah Chaney