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When Miss Elizabeth Baxter created the Brentwood Writers' Circle In 1941 she could not have envisaged her idea of starting a writers' group would not only survive the war years but that it would go on to celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2021.


Back in 1941 Elizabeth’s meeting at her beloved London Writers' Circle had been cancelled when the building where the group met was badly damaged in a bombing raid. She decided to start her own writers' group in the front parlour of her Park Road home in Brentwood and having paid sixpence to the local newspaper to advertise for members, six people replied and the Brentwood Writers' Circle was born!

After the war, the Brentwood Writers' Circle flourished. Lunches were held at the Lion and Lamb, The White Hart and Norrish's in the High Street. Members wore their best hats for the occasions, and the events were reported in the Brentwood Gazette. Elizabeth was a member of the Society of Women Journalists and had access to many distinguished writers whom she invited to lecture the Brentwood group. They included Margery Allingham, Evelyn Anthony, 

Ruby Ayres, Jean Bowden, and many other luminaries of the time. In later years the Circle entertained Douglas Adams, Michael Holroyd, Lena Kennedy, Martina Cole, and Ronald Blythe. more recently the Circle has enjoyed meeting writers of the calibre of Colin Dexter, Simon Brett and Jurgen Wolff, among other well-known authors.


What would Elizabeth Baxter make of today’s Brentwood Writers’ Circle, the group she founded all those years ago? I’m sure she would be delighted that her group is still thriving and attracting those who love to write. The continuing success of the Circle has, of course, been dependent on the commitment and support of subsequent members throughout the decades.

Miss Baxter would no doubt be astounded by the advances in technology that facilitate and indeed are essential to writers and their craft today. She would probably be amazed that few members now produce hand-written scripts or even use a typewriter. What would she and those original members make of having spelling and grammar errors checked and even corrected by an invisible hand at the


moment the words and sentences are typed, have no need for correction fluid, be able to print multiple copies of their work in seconds or send their scripts into the ether.


Elizabeth may have thought her skills would no longer be relevant in the 21st century. However, people still sit quietly at home, putting down their thoughts and ideas, creating stories and articles they hope others will enjoy reading. Technology may have made unimaginable advances since 1941 but the urge to write and share writing activities with like-minded others remain central to the writing circle Miss Baxter and her fellow writers created.

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Elizabeth Baxter.jpg
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Elizabeth Baxter, an early meeting and a recent workshop 

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