Ursula K. Le Guin'sitting in a rocking chair and holding a book, black and white photograph.
(UPI Photo: M. Klimek via Getty Images)

Writing in Ursula K. Le Guin’s House Sounds Like a Dream, Right? That Dream Can Now Come True

Any avid fantasy and science-fiction reader—and any lover of literature in general, really—will have read or been influenced by the works of Ursula K. Le Guin. The Earthsea stories (my personal favorites), The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, and more have inspired readers and writers alike for years.

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Widely recognized as one of the greatest authors of our time, Le Guin had always been a major advocate for the arts and other writers, and now, even after her death in 2018, that legacy will be carried on.

On Monday, Literary Arts, a “community-based non-profit” headquartered in Portland, Oregon, formally announced that Le Guin’s family had donated their family home so that it could become the Ursula K. Le Guin Writers Residency. According to Literary Arts, which has been working to celebrate, uplift, and organize events and classes within the literary community for the past 39 years, the Ursula K. Le Guin Writers Residency will preserve the home in which the eminent author wrote so many of her influential books and stories and give writers of varying backgrounds the time to focus on their work without the distractions and demands of their day-to-day lives.

Those lucky writers who are selected will be chosen by an advisory council composed of fellow writers, a Le Guin family member, and other literary professionals, and the residencies will be of varying length, depending on the writers’ previous obligations and other contributing factors. A stipend will be offered as well so that all interested writers can feel free to apply regardless of financial circumstances, and only one writer will be in residence at any one time, though the program will continue year-round. The chosen authors will also be asked to engage with the local literary community, too, attending workshops, readings, and other creative events throughout Portland.

For many writers, a residency like this would be life-changing. Theo Downes-Le Guin, the late Ursula K. Le Guin’s son, recognizes the enormity of this opportunity and wants to make sure that all writers and readers in Portland and beyond will feel the positive effects of his mother’s legacy. In a statement, Downes-Le Guin said, “We don’t want it just to be for authors who already have had residencies elsewhere. But we’ll want applicants to demonstrate that they’re seriously engaged in the work. We want people who will make the most of this.”

This decision hasn’t come out of nowhere, though. According to Literary Arts, Le Guin herself had been in talks with the organization since 2017, a year before she passed away. The executive director of Literary Arts, Andrew Proctor, said in a statement that “she had a clear vision for her home to become a creative space for writers and a beacon for the broader literary community.”

The Le Guin family home is a 19th-century three-story house, designed out of a Sears & Roebuck catalog—yes, there was a time when you could pick an architectural building kit from a Sears mail-0rder catalog and have it built, or build it yourself, on your own plot of land—with a view of Mount St. Helens and a towering redwood tree. Though the house will not be preserved as an exact time capsule, Le Guin’s legacy will be felt throughout the space so that writers may be inspired by their surroundings rather than intimidated by them.

As an aspiring author myself, this residency sounds like a dream come true. Hopefully, the successful residents will feel just as invigorated to write there as Ursula K. Le Guin once did.

(via AP News and Literary Arts)


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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.