"Enjoy and respect this magical community." Clarissa Horwood

I was born in Oxford of a French mother and English father. My education was in French and most summers were spent with my grandmother near Paris. I have always considered myself to be British European. My home is now in Tasmania, Australia. My entire existence, however, is deeply rooted in Oxford. It is difficult to decipher exactly what impact my forefathers have had on who I am today. The Pen Factor was certainly born out of the influences that shaped my life.   

The Reverend Henry Wheeler Robinson
      My great-grandfather, H. Wheeler Robinson, was the Principal of Regent’s Park College, Oxford. He was responsible for relocating the college from London to its current location in Pusey Street. He believed it was a more congenial setting than London for a college. Today his books are widely used in the Faculty of Theology.

My grandfather, F. C. Horwood, was Emeritus Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford, and he published works on diverse literary giants. He had a particular love for A. E. Housman's poetry, which later formed the foundation of his friendship with Colin Dexter. My grandfather immersed himself in the magic of Oxford, and joined 'The Inklings' literary group with his associates, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, which they held at The Eagle and Child in St. Giles'.

F. C. Horwood, Tutor and Dean
Tony Horwood, my father
My own father, Tony Horwood, adored him and inherited his love of literature. In 1958, my father was given a place at King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied Arabic, Persian and French. As a young graduate, he became Head of International House in Teheran and later he founded his own language schools in Oxford. His real passion, however, was for writing.

As a child, I would gratefully listen to Dad’s typewriter echoing late into the night. His fierce tapping chased away the dormitory ghosts that haunted me. 

He wrote indefatigably, and steadily submitted his poems and short stories, decade after decade. Some were published, while others were returned with a compliment slip. His most beautiful novel was never submitted. That would be his last.

To this day, I do not understand why his best work was placed in a stamped brown envelope, but never posted. Perhaps he lost hope. 

My father’s prose outlives him, but he continues to be my source of inspiration. His unchartered talent has inspired me to encourage those who have found their raison d'être in writing to keep on fueling their passion. I am undeniably a late developer. It took the death of a parent and the birth of a child to identify my strengths and passions. Dad’s legacy left an imprint on my heart. Writing has helped fulfill me in motherhood and inject inspiration into my own children. 

Keep the dream alive. Keep writing. 

Clarissa Horwood 

Founder of The Pen Factor
Reading for Pleasure Advocate