The Harris Burdick Project

Announcing a New Project for Tunbridge Wells Writers
(Project Outline by Sue Marlow)

Harris BurdickTWW are launching a new project inspired by the 1984 book ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’.

The story behind the origin of this book, regardless of whether it be fact or fiction, is as intriguing as the illustrations found between the covers. ‘The Mysteries of Harris Burdick’ starts with an explanation from Chris Van Allsburg, a writer, illustrator and film-maker. He tells of how in 1984 he visited Peter Wenders, who was an editor of children’s books, and was shown Burdick’s drawings. Wenders told Van Allsburg how, many years before, Burdick had arrived at his office with a drawing and a caption from each of the fourteen stories he had written. Wenders was fascinated by Burdick’s work and asked him to bring the complete stories and illustrations the following day. Burdick said he would but was never seen or heard of again. Wenders kept the original illustrations and over the years they inspired his children and their friends to write stories.

It was agreed that Van Allsburg would publish the drawings and captions in the expectation that Burdick, or someone who knew him, would come forward but no-one did. However for over thirty years since the book was published it has been inspiring both children and adults (including Stephen King) to let their imaginations run riot and to write some wonderful stories.

At TWW we are taking on the challenge to create our own works in response to these fascinating illustrations. The pieces can be poetry or prose and the writer can use or ignore the original caption that accompanied each illustration. You can select whichever and as many illustrations as you wish or write different pieces about a single image. The only restriction is a 500 (approx) word limit, as it is intended to display the text and accompanying image together in a two page A4 spread. For formatting guidelines, check out the “House Style” in our resources section HERE.

If you are interested in taking part in this project do get in touch (contact form at foot of page) and we will announce the closing date for submissions and how the works will be shared very soon. Meanwhile, for a closer look at some of the artwork involved, check out the video below (sorry for narrator’s irritating voice!)