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The first British Milford - October 1972, Milford on Sea

Milford One - A Retrospective by David Redd

1972 saw the first Milford Science Fiction Writers Conference in the UK, set up by a small dedicated team of James Blish (a co-founder of the original USA Milford); Anne McCaffrey (Chair); Judy Blish (legwork); and Ken Bulmer (“Liaison Officer between the Americans and the inscrutable British.”)

That initial Milford was my first-ever story workshop experience: new, exciting, crowded, exhausting, sometimes frightening, enlightening and valuable.  Most attendees were published novelists, while I had only a few magazine stories to my name.  With the initial demand unknown, the committee had limited Milford One to a single weekend.  We workshopped fifteen stories in three days!  I remember little about the hotel; probably it was the Lydgate, sold soon after.  (Andrew [Stephenson] might remember more.) Subsequently, Milford resided happily for many years at the Compton House, with some very understanding mine hosts in Pat & Don Emberson, along with their joint proprietors Joy and Tony Tillett in the earlier years.  Milfordites kept many interesting and incriminating documents of that time in the notorious “Milford Box,” now apparently lost.) The stories?  A blur, inevitably, although I think Chris Priest brought a promising novelette called “The Inverted World,” which became an excellent novel due to his own efforts, not ours, and I brought one called “Morning” which did at least make it into F&SF.  Mark Adlard offered an alien-zoo short story and received great admiration in some quarters for his vigorous description of a harpoon “whanging home.”  I have mentioned elsewhere that Mark was so encouraged by this enthusiasm that he went home and wrote an entire novel about harpoons whanging home, for which Penguin paid him £30,000.  (“I do hope this story is true,” I wrote, and so far nobody has contradicted me.) A note on costs: registration £1.50, hotel daily full board, £3.50.  Ah, 1972! So that was Milford One.  A whirlwind of meeting friends old and new, of professionals showing great kindness, of frantic reading and frantic critting – one member did not last the weekend.  1972 must have been a success; the next year Milford UK extended to a full week, and has been running ever since.

Mark Adlard * Brian Aldiss * James Blish * John Brunner * Kenneth Bulmer * Richard Cowper *
Judith Anne Lawrence (Judy Blish) * George Locke (Gordon Walters) * Anne McCaffrey * John Phillifent * Christopher Priest * David Redd * Josephine Saxton * Andrew Stephenson * Peter Tate

Thanks to Andrew Stephenson and David Redd for the participant list

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