TLC was the UK’s first editorial consultancy for writers, and was co-founded by Rebecca and her colleague Hannah Griffiths after they met working together at Virago Press. At the time of its inception, TLC’s aim was to bridge the gap between writers, agents and publishers. Jenny Downham, Tina Seskis, Penny Pepper, Neamat Imam, Prue Leith, and Kerry Young are among the many authors it has supported to publication over the years. Now an Arts Council England NPO, TLC also runs a nationwide bursary scheme for low-income and marginalised writers alongside its commercial editorial, mentoring, and events services.
Rebecca was a prolific writer, and a great lover of poetry. Her biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives, was published in 2011 with Hesperus Press, and she wrote poetry throughout her life. She was also a Trustee of the Maya Centre, a charity supporting vulnerable women in Islington through psychodynamic counselling, and a vocal supporter of their mental health therapy programmes which focus on enabling women to heal through learning to tell their stories.
In line with these passions – poetry, mental health, and women’s rights – the Rebecca Swift Foundation Women Poets’ Prize will provide a programme of longterm support and creative professional development opportunities to three female-identifying poets per year, selected through a judged application process. Each poet will be matched with a poetry mentor and a separate pastoral coach, and will have access to a number of inspirational ‘experience’ modules including Performance, Festivals, Bookbinding, Publishing History, Digital and Transmedia Skills, and a personalised Exploration module.
Rebecca was always very clear that her wish for TLC, as for the Foundation, was to shift the emphasis away from ‘outcomes’ that focussed on publication, and instead to maximise vital creative space for poets within a supported environment, giving them the opportunity to explore their writing and develop their poetic voice and their central sense of self, as well as improving skills through the learning modules, combining the holistic with the practical and allowing the poetry, and the poets, to flourish.