|Robert Burns Fellowship|
|Genre||New Zealand literature|
|Venue||University of Otago|
The Robert Burns Fellowship is a New Zealand literary residency. Established in 1958 to coincide with bicentennial celebrations of the birth of Robert Burns, it is often claimed to be New Zealand's premier literary residency. The list of past fellows includes many of New Zealand's most notable 20th and 21st century writers.
The fellowship was established in 1958 by an anonymous group of citizens of Dunedin, including notably Charles Brasch and his cousins the de Beers. Its purpose is "to encourage and promote imaginative New Zealand literature, liberally interpreted to include writers of genres such as literary biography, autobiography and literary criticism". It marked 200 years since the birth of Robert Burns, and also the service provided by the Burns family to the development of the Otago region, including Thomas Burns who was a nephew of the poet. It was the first literary fellowship in New Zealand.
Michael King, who received the fellowship in 1998, said at the time: "If the Burns Fellowship did not exist, New Zealand literature might be a decade or so behind the place where it is now. Some things simply wouldn't have been written." As an example, he noted that Janet Frame, one of New Zealand's best-known authors, was only able to stay in New Zealand and continue to write because of the resources provided by the fellowship.
The fellowship is based at the University of Otago. It provides a stipend to recipients for between six months to a year, as well as an office on campus.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the fellowship, a collection titled Nurse to the Imagination: Fifty years of the Robert Burns Fellowship was launched in October 2008, along with commemorations to coincide with Dunedin's 2008 Arts Festival.
The writers to have held the fellowship are listed below: