Dead Poets’ Society: Historic Jewish cemetery breathes life into writers’ retreat

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Dead Poets’ Society: Historic Jewish cemetery breathes life into writers’ retreat

Sessions at Willesden cemetery next month at the final resting place for more than 29,000 people.

Willesden Jewish Cemetery
Willesden Jewish Cemetery

One of Britain’s most iconic Jewish cemeteries is running a writers’ retreat.

The four day event at the historic 150-year old Willesden Jewish cemetery will be facilitated by Professor Nadia Valman, a senior lecturer in the Department of English at Queen Mary University of London.

She is also the author of “The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture”.

The retreat is billed as a beautiful, quiet and warm space, ideal “whether you are a student finishing a dissertation, writing a funding application or a creative writer.” Writers can book one, two, three or four full days.

Willesden Jewish Cemetery.

Miriam Marson, the United Synagogue’s head of heritage, said: “Our beautiful and tranquil space provides the perfect space for contemplation and creativity. The “House of Life” heritage project at Willesden Jewish Cemetery continues to introduce new events to engage new audiences and we look forward to welcoming a range of writers to our site.”

The sessions run between 10am and 4pm each day and tickets start at £25.

Tour group at Willesden Jewish cemetery, November 2022.

Willesden is the only Jewish cemetery on England’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. It is the final resting place of scientist Rosalind Franklin, pre-Raphaelite painter Simeon Solomon, Tesco founder Jack Cohen and zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild.

Established by Victorian Jews of German and Dutch origin in 1873 on former sheep grazing land that was bought by the United Synagogue, the London cemetery received £1.7 million of funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2018.

Only members of the United Synagogue can be buried here, and as space is limited, it is by prior reservation only.

To book your tickets to the Willesden Jewish Cemetery writing retreat, click here.

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