Antonia Honeywell

antonia-honeywell-outsideI was born to two people who loved each other; unfortunately this didn’t last, so I’ve largely written off my childhood. Life really began when I went to Manchester University, aged eighteen, to study English.

However, I did write my first novel at the age of eight, in Mrs. Burgess’ class at Benson Primary School. It was about a small red plastic counter making its way through a game of Snakes and Ladders. I remember feeling the sensations of the counter as the dice throw meant that the snake was inevitable; I also remember the frustration of trying to communicate that feeling in words, and the sense that it was of paramount importance to succeed. That novel was never published, chiefly because I had to get changed for rounders.

I never gave up writing, but my failure to emulate Zadie Smith upon graduation meant that I had to earn a living another way. I started out in the Education Department at the Natural History Museum in London, then realised that the Education part of my job had become more and more interesting, and went off to train as a teacher.

I taught for ten years. During that time I wrote a play and took it to the Edinburgh Festival; I wrote a musical (with Rob Chalmers, the Head of Music at Ashcombe School, where we both worked at the time); I was Head of English, Drama and Film Studies at Watford Grammar School for Girls, and finally at North Westminster Community School  (which needs an entire section to itself, and is now an Academy). I loved teaching and was lucky to find, not a career, but a vocation. I miss it.

But I fell in love, and in 2004, I got married. Four children later, I’m working as hard as ever. I’ve kept my babies fed and warm and loved, but I’ve never stopped writing. Sometimes I even get some sleep, although now that I have secured that longed-for book deal, life looks all set to shift again.

I’ve always hoped that one day, everything would make some kind of sense. But now, after four decades on this beautiful planet, I realise that the sense isn’t in my gift. All I can do is the best with what I’ve been given, and to help others along the way. I hope that The Ship will be a success and that I’ll publish more novels in the future. I hope that, as a published writer, I’ll get the opportunity to teach again in a different context. I’ll certainly always be glad to hear from schools who would like a writer to visit, as well as from book groups, libraries, bookshops, creative writing courses, writers both published and aspiring, and anyone who enjoys reading.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to hear about, or hear more about – after all, if life is not about making connections, what is there left?

6 thoughts on “Antonia Honeywell

  1. Yes, there were good times in those classes. Your classes have always stayed with me. Teachers like you, Mr Bowen who taught me History and my tutor Mr Selby were inspirational. You all cared about us and your subjects and it showed, maybe not always in our grades, but it still meant something.

    After leaving NWCS I became a receptionist which was very dull so I enrolled on an access course and went on to study law at Cambridge. It sounds implausible but it’s true. I sometimes regret not giving myself a reall chance to do well when I was at school. I was too lazy and thought I was too clever to try. But all’s well that ends well!

    I’m a mother now too, to two energetic and boisterous little boys aged 3 and 1. I’m also finishing off an MSc in Criminal Justice Policy and don’t find as much time to read as I used to. In fact I’ve struggled to since I became a student 6 years ago, doing a law degree took all the pleasure out of it for me for a whole. I very nearly changed my mind a week before my course began and asked to be put on the English course instead, if I had been I may have ended up teaching too! Part of me would still like to but I hear and read horrible things about targets and workloads. It’s really lovely to hear that you have fond memories of it though.

    Thank you for replying and thank you for all the hours and the energy you invested in me and others like me.

    Sian

    1. That’s an impressive and inspiring story. I remember thinking how much potential you had. All credit to you; it’s so much harder without the framework of school, but perhaps better suited to your independence and spirit. Lucky boys, to have such an example in their mum. Good luck, Sian. I’m so glad you got in touch.

  2. Dear Ms Honeywell,

    My name is Sian (formerly Pieterse). You may not remember me but I was a student in your English Literature A-Level class at North Westminster Community School just over ten years ago. I warmly remember your classes and how frustrated you always were with us for being disengaged and failing to keep up with our Frankenstein reading. I am very pleased to learn that you are a published writer and look forward to buying and reading The Ship.

    1. Dear Sian
      Yes of course I remember you – thank you so much for getting in touch, and for your good wishes.I remember the frustration of those classes too – but I also remember the great sense of achievement on both sides when we had a breakthrough, and how much progress you all made. I miss teaching, and hearing from you makes me miss it all the more. I do hope things are going well for you – I’d love to know what happened for you once you left school.
      Best wishes
      Antonia

  3. Dear Antonia,

    The opening lines of your biog alone would make great opening lines for a novel…

    Congratulations on your publication deal for The Ship. I have just read an enticing extract from it in the 2009 Faber Academy anthology – I’ve just completed the Faber Writing a Novel course, and have to prepare an extract for this year’s anthology in June.

    Got to say, reading yours and the others in 2009, I am blown away by the quality and imagination of the writing of your Faber peers (and completely intimidated too!)

    Also loved your post on gay marriage. Bravo!

    All my best,
    Paul

    1. Dear Paul
      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such lovely comments. 2009! Just goes to show how much time has to go in to this strange obsession of ours… I do hope the Faber course was useful to you – don’t be intimidated but do be encouraged. I would love to see a copy of this years’ anthology when it comes out.
      Best wishes and thank you again, Antonia

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