The Mary Byrd Davis Residency

The short-listed entries for the 2014 Mary Byrd Davis Nature Writing Residency are:


Chelsea Biondolillo for On Vultures

Ken Brower for Sea Rise: A Memoir of Low Islands

Susan Griffin for Sustainability and the Soul

Joan Maloof for Loving the Science: of Eastern Old Growth Forests

Christopher Shaw for The Source

 The jury would like to extend an  Honorable Mention to a wonderful young  writer who submitted a compelling, beautiful proposal as well:  Sierra Crane Murdoch for Hollowed Ground.

We would have liked to offer everyone who applied a residency. We had many, many more applications than we ever dreamed of when setting up this award. Narrowing it down to just four was an extremely difficult task – choosing one out of these four is going to be even harder.  Funding permitting, we will be offering another award in 2015, so please do stay in touch.   Many thanks to all of those who helped out with publicity and outreach. We wish you all the candidates the best of luck with your books and essays and for your efforts to make this a better, wilder world.

The winner of the Residency will be announced on May 15, 2014.










Mary with her dog, Tammy

        We are delighted to announce that we will be granting a one-month residency in 2014   to a writer concentrating on environmental issues. The grant is named in honor of Mary Byrd Davis, a passionate conservationist, researcher and great friend to the Bordeneuve family who passed away in February 2011. The award is generously endowed by Mary’s husband, Robert Davis.

Authors of creative and literary non-fiction who have previously published works on nature, ecology and the environment are encouraged to apply. The residency will be offered to one writer to further a new or current project which must also be on an environmental theme. Books, journalism and essays are all eligible. The award recipient will be chosen by a panel of environmental activists, writers, educators and legal scholars.

The submission window closes on the 31st of March, 2014 and the short list will be announced on May 1st, 2014.  The winner will be announced on the 15th of May, 2014 and offered a full-pension one-month long residency in late October or November 2014 (the dates will be set with the winner) at Bordeneuve as well as a 500€ research grant and small (needs-based) travel stipend.

The panel will be looking for submissions that reflect Mary Byrd Davis’s commitment to meticulously researched works, her boldness of vision and her courage to address delicate and controversial issues.  We are looking for excellence of expression  as well as the strength and potential of a proposal. Applicants must be willing and able to travel to France in late 2014. Emerging, mid-career and established writers are all encouraged to apply. All submissions must be in English.

The detailed application process and submission guidelines can be found here. Applications must be received by March 31st, 2014.

If you are interested in applying, we invite you to explore our website and learn more about our residency program. We are currently accepting applications for our standard residencies as well as the Davis Residency. Our blog is written by previous residents and showcases their experiences while at Bordeneuve. Any questions or comments should be directed to Noelle{at}

Upstairs at Bordeneuve

About Mary Byrd Davis

Mary Byrd Davis was born in Cardiff, Wales on September 30, 1936. Her father, John Byrd, was English, and her mother, Joanna Falconer Byrd came from New England. Mary has two siblings: Joan, a ceramics professor at Western Carolina University, and Frank, retired from administration in the North Carolina university system. The Byrd family remained in Cardiff, where John was a school teacher, during World War II, but emigrated to the U.S. in 1947, settling in Lakeland, Florida, where he became a professor of English at Florida Southern College. Mary graduated from Lakeland High School as valedictorian of the class of 1954 and from Agnes Scott  College, where she was  elected to Phi Beta Kappa, in 1958. In December 1958 she was married and lived in France, where her husband, Robert Davis, did his military service until August, 1960. Eventually, they had two children, a daughter Carol, and a son John, who , following his mother, is devoting his life to environmental causes, and two grandsons. She was a very devoted and influential mother and grandmother.  At various times, the family lived in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky, and France.

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mary earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English, writing and publishing a dissertation on James Elroy Flecker, an English writer of the Edwardian period. Later, she published studies on Matthew Arnold,  Algernon Swinburne, and other writers, in well-known literary journals.  She also earned the M.S. degree in Library Science at Simmons College. In the 1980s, after several years as a librarian, Mary became an activist and scholar on environmental and peace issues. She undertook detailed studies principally in two areas: 1) old growth forests in the eastern United States, and 2) the civilian and military nuclear complex in France.  Her publications include Old Growth Forests in the East: a Survey, 1996 (her son John  participated in this project); Electricity and Warheads: a Guide to the French Nuclear Industry, 1986 La France nucleaire: matieres et sites , 1987; and Going Off the Beaten Path: An Untraditional Travel Guide to the US,1991. Concurrently with her research and writing, she was an active board member and grant writer for the Centre de Documentations et de Recherches sur la Paix et les Conflits (CDRPC), in Lyon, France, working closely with Bruno Barrillot and other peace leaders.

Mary assiduously took notes on most of her trips, activities, and ideas, and she published a few guides for environmentalist travelers. She brought the same habit of notation and record-keeping to  her outdoor activities. She enjoyed sightseeing and hiking, in forests and fields, and could keep up with almost anyone. She became very interested in botany, studying flowers and trees and inscribing her observations in sundry notebooks. Already ill, Mary made her last trip to France in March, 2010, and in September of that year, she attended a conference in New York City, to be present at an award ceremony honoring one her colleagues.  She continued writing and editing until the last week of her life, and died bravely, of cancer, February 13, 2011. She remains an advocate for wildlife and peace through her work.


If you would like to donate to future Mary Byrd Davis grants, please contact me at  info{at}