100 Words of Solitude

The Story behind the 100 Words of Solitude & Rare Swan Press Collaboration.

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By Dr. Philippa Holloway and Dr. Simon Holloway

This project was conceived on the first day of the UK lockdown, during a late-night conversation about whether it was ever possible to understand the varied, lived experiences of people all over the world, who might be all sharing the same fears and concerns we had, facing similar challenges, but in very different places and in very different ways. We wondered how it might be possible to write about the pandemic, and if writing about it was even the right way to approach such a complex situation.

We both wanted to do something to help people during the lockdown, but are not medical professionals, and apart from supporting our neighbours, felt a little helpless. However, we do know that writing can help when faced with difficult and challenging situations. We’ve both taught Creative Writing for the mental health charity MIND in the past, and know how it can help us to take control of our thoughts, to make sense of emotions and behaviours and cultural/social interactions, and to find connection with others. And so, 100 Words Of Solitude was born.

We wanted to ensure it was open access for all, no submissions fees, all voices welcome, aiming for the small, personal reflections of individuals amongst the media overload of mass, impersonal coverage. We hoped to get as many voices from as many places as possible to send us work, but didn’t expect such an overwhelming response – hundreds of submissions in the first week, demanding extra help in reading and shortlisting, and the challenge of selecting only 100 pieces for the project!

Over the space of a few months we published 100 established, award-winning and debut writers from over 31 countries, and had tens of thousands of readers in 109 countries. The experience was humbling and uplifting, and the response from both writers and readers, and how we felt ourselves, revealed that this opportunity for connection, to write and be heard, to share and develop a small global community, and to learn, was a lifeline amid the disturbance of the pandemic. Together we grieved, renegotiated, breathed, laughed and shared our experiences and ideas. The project was always set up to be not-for-profit, and we have given every spare second to running it without seeking any remuneration.

Rare Swan Press, and its journal publication Literati Magazine, share our values and ethos: they champion diversity, human rights, and literary excellence. They recognised the value of the project as a source for connection and artistic expression, and offered to publish the collection also without demand for remuneration, ensuring all profits are pledged to humanitarian causes.

We feel honoured and humbled that the amazing writers in the collection also chose to share their work for the benefit of these charities. What started out as a late night discussion over the kitchen table has now become not only a chance to raise money for those in need during and beyond this pandemic, but a way to document the myriad ways the world-wide lockdowns have impacted people from diverse nations and communities. These literary responses will resonate for years to come, telling a polyphonic story of 2020, when the world was put on hold, and everything changed…


The original announcement went live on Wednesday 15th July. 2020


Meet the Editors

Dr. Philippa Holloway

Editor, Lecturer, Author

Dr. Philippa Holloway is a fiction/non-fiction writer, published in the US, Australia, Africa, Europe and the UK in various publications including Ascent, Bukker Tillibul, New Contrast, LitroThe Commonwealth Writers, New Writing, Lunate and as a single-authored chapbook by Nightjar Press. She has won prizes in literary awards including the Fish Publishing Prize and The Scythe Prize, was the Judge for the 2018 Hedge Arts Short Fiction Competition and the 2020 Lancashire Futures ‘Lockdown Diaries’ competition.

Read her full biography

Dr. Simon Holloway

Editor, Lecturer, Author

Dr. Simon Holloway is, in no particular order, a novelist, short story writer, poet, critic and academic. His latest novel, The Words We Use are Black and White, is the first to be published under his own name, and is described by the international language expert Prof. David Crystal as ‘compelling…a world steeped in images of language.’ His poetry has been published in places such as The Rialto, The North, Staple, The Frogmore Papers, Envoi and Iota, and his short fiction in places such as The North American Review, Litro, Mechanics Institute Review, Stand, New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, and TEXT.

Read his full biography


Rare Swan Press and 100 Words of Solitude joined in a collaborative effort to publish this collection because we recognised not only the value and worth of such a global bringing together of voices, especially during the initial COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, but also because of its crucial social impact.

The collaborative process of bringing this project to print further highlighted the significance it had and continues to have on both the contributors and readers, many of whom found themselves not only facing the challenges of enforced restrictions and isolation, but also increasing challenges to finding a balance in the face of, at times serious mental health issues; either new anxieties brought on by the sudden impact of the disease, the loss of loved ones, loss of income, job security and fear, or a combination of any number of these piling the pressure on already long term health issues. equally important has been the goal of this collection; to not only bring literary voices together during such a time, but also to raise funding for crucial charities working relentlessly to serve us all and to secure our safety.

Despite the challenges of delays and uncertain schedules due to continually changing covid restrictions and regulations, as well as the lead up to to the implementation of Brexit, 100 Words of Solitude finally sees the collective artistry of global voices in lockdown, in print.

And in December 2020, 100 Words of Solitude announced its nominations for the Pushcart Prize for 2020


PUSHCART NOMINATIONS 2020 100 WORDS OF SOLITUDE

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Pushcart Prize Nominees 2020

Our congratulations to the nominees and our thanks to every contributor for making this a unique collection of international voices in lockdown.


Available from LM EMPORIUM

Luxury Limited,Numbered Charity Hardcover Edition

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Softcover Edition

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100 Words of Solitude in the media

From Edge Hill University News … an excerpt about 100 Words of Solitude

Writers And Artists Handbook 100 Words of Solitude, A Lockdown-inspired Anthology by Dr.Philippa Holloway


Praise for 100 Words of Solitude

“The diversity of voices and countries represented demonstrates how connected our global village is; these words bring solace at a time when that’s a rare commodity.” –    Nessa O’Mahony   –


Selected Readings & Recordings by the voices of 100 Words of Solitude.

With a desire to broaden the scope of awareness-building to the issues of mental health and to offer contributors an opportunity to create a vibrant and vital archive of material, accessible by all and not restricted by print editions, 100 Words of Solitude and Rare Swan Press are creating an audio-visual archive of reading and recording by the contributing writers of their work in the 100 Words of Solitude Anthology. Please note these works are subject to international copyright laws and any replication or distribution of these works WITHOUT the express written permission from either 100 Words of Solitude and or Rare Swan Press will be liable to prosecution.

Readings, Essays, Recordings

Everything Is Connected. Essay by Oz Hardwick

May Hail. Reading, Auto & Video. Daniel Andrade Amaral

What the contributors are saying . . .


Dear Renée, I just wanted to say thank you for the beautifully produced book, which arrived yesterday. Being fascinated by responses to the past ‘unprecedented’ year, I have accumulated a number of anthologies which treat of the subject, and this is the most varied, geographically diverse publication I have yet seen. I’m honoured to be in it. Congratulations on a wonderful book and I hope that it reaches a wide audience.

Oz Hardwick, Writer, Musician, Photographer & Academic


“Wow! What else can I say? The finished product has arrived! I’m so glad to be involved in such an amazing project and that our work gets to support some immense charities. Well done to both at 100 Words of Solitude and Rare Swan Press.”

Toby Wallis. Winner of Glimmer Train’s New Writer award, short-listed for Bridport, Brick Lane and Raymond Carver



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