Me, aged 11, with my brother on his first birthday

Me, aged 11, with my brother on his first birthday


I grew up in Hull, on the east coast of England, where I was educated at an inner-city primary school and a comprehensive that bounced around the bottom of the Hull school league tables and no longer exists. Nevertheless, throughout my pre-16 education certain teachers stand out for their investment in me and for always believing that I could achieve beyond society’s expectations of northern working-class kids. I feel fiercely proud my working-class roots, which are apparent the minute I open my mouth. I carry Hull’s flat vowels with me wherever I go.

My parents were crippled financially by Thatcher’s introduction of the Poll Tax and my father’s inability to stick at a job for longer than a few years. My mother, with her dogged determination to survive, superhuman work ethic, and constant teaching that I should not marry the first person I fall in love with, was unwittingly my first feminist influence as she didn’t know what feminism was. Salt N Pepa were probably my second.

I spent my late teens and twenties trying to discover who I was between low-paid jobs, and took three years to get one a-level in English. I finally went to university aged 24, which is where I feel I started to get to know myself. Inspired by some excellent lecturers and some excellent books, I dared to dream that I might one day do a PhD. I finally achieved that when I passed my viva, aged 36, in 2017.

I am working on a re-write of my PhD thesis for publication and have several articles at various stages of production. When I’m not working, I am usually at home, shrieking with laughter as I chase my blind cat, Marlowe, around the house.