Black Pens 2023

A video worth a thousand words

Black Pens 2023 was held at Wilderness Reserve


Wilderness Reserve

Black Pens 2023 was held at the stunning Sibton and Chapel Barn Estates that make up Wilderness Reserve, an 8000-acre estate of woodland, lakes and green pasture, that hosts a number of eclectic and traditional Suffolk properties. Both summer and autumn venues allowed us to frolic in the most luxurious setting and we were blessed with beautiful weather in August.

Fun in the sun, laughter galore

In an effort to expand, there were not one but two Black Pens retreats in 2023, with a mid-week option for summer attendees as well as full Monday-Friday options in both August and October. The Summer retreats took place Monday 14thFriday 18th August and Tuesday 15thThursday 17th August. Despite UK trying its best to ruin the fun with grey skies, the sun was triumphant and learning from 2022, the venue boasted swimming pools and hot tubs at both of the gorgeous properties so that attendees could cool off or warm up!

With culinary delights prepared from the best of British ingredients and served three times a day, waistbands as well as knowledge expanded with the only complaint being the amount of food!

Shout out to our speakers & sponsors

2023 brought back beloved expert speakers like Dr. Jade Bentil and introduced new ones such as Ronke Lawal, PR expert and founder of Ariatu PR; Bolu Babalola, screenwriter and bestselling author of Honey & Spice and Juliet Mabey, senior editor and founder of Oneworld Publications. Attendees engaged in discussions about everything from the editing and publication process with a traditional publisher, to craft and the financial side of being an author. There was also plenty of time for solo and group writing sessions, peer feedback and free time to explore the grounds or relax. Everyone went home with the Black Pens goodie bag (or sack, in this case!) Our wonderful sponsors continue to make Black Pens possible.

Ronke Lawal speaking at the summer retreat


Two full week retreats and one mini one. Learning, love, laughter and bonding. There aren’t enough words to fully describe how uplifting Black Pens was in 2023. Safety was a top priority and being able to provide attendees with secure yet stunning locations to progress their work was a key factor to the success of Black Pens 2023. A huge thank you is due to the staff of Wilderness Reserve who were friendly and kept us well fed throughout our stay. As we look ahead to 2025, improvements are already underway so please, please watch this space!

2025, here we come!