The residency is the welcome result of an extensive project to offer a counterpart to the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in Menton (France) which has enabled many of the great names of New Zealand literature to take up residence at the villa in which Katherine Mansfield convalesced during the 1920s. New Zealanders recognised this need for reciprocity some time ago. The absence of French writers in New Zealand prior to the establishment of the Randell Cottage Residency was in no way a reflection of a lack of interest on their part but rather the lack of an opportunity.
Wellington is the perfect location for a writers’ residence. It is relatively peaceful (with an inner-city population of only 160,000 residents). The city has a distinct cultural presence with its diverse range of cultural events and lively café culture. It is also home to numerous bookshops, public and research libraries and Victoria University’s renowned creative writing course. Although Randell Cottage is located in Wellington, other New Zealand centres, those with historical links to France (such as Akarora in the South Island and Devonport near Auckland City), have declared their interest in hosting its writers-in-residence for brief periods during their time in New Zealand.
Randell Cottage is a 19th century house in the heart of Wellington’s colonial district of Thorndon, just a few steps away from the city’s lush botanic gardens; and despite having undergone repeated renovations, the cottage has retained all of its original charm. Set in an attractive garden, it is made up of a dining room, living room (which can double as a study), a fully-equipped kitchen, two bedrooms and a small studio annex. Its modest size makes it ideal for a single person, couple or one-child family. The cottage is at the complete disposal of the laureate for the given time, the Randell Cottage Writers’ Trust and the French Embassy’s Cultural Section pay rates and electricity charges. Telephone bills are the sole expense that are covered by the writer-in-residence.