Julia Darling: an unconventional author

A writing life 

The innovative and original author Julia Darling was a prolific novelist, poet and playwright. Julia’s uplifting body of work represents her artistry and courageous humanity, alongside the dynamic world of her imagination.

Born in Winchester in 1956, Julia studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art and moved to North East England in 1980. She was based in Newcastle upon Tyne for her adult life, where she co-founded the small press Diamond Twig, stage company Operating Theatre and collaborated with performance collective The Poetry Virgins.

Julia’s website

In 2015, the ten-year anniversary of Julia’s death was marked by a joyous programme of events across the North East. A new website was launched to celebrate her life and Tamzin was commissioned by Julia’s family to provide content about the writer’s pioneering work. It includes her own interview with Julia, carried out in February 2005. This was a conversation about Julia’s final stage production, A Manifesto for a New City, focusing on her radical vision of utopia and also her deep affection for Tyneside.

The website www.juliadarling.co.uk features a biography of Julia, who was Associate Royal Literary Fund Fellow of Literature and Health at Newcastle University. It also explores the importance of Julia’s short stories, her experimental work in the area of health and illness and her life-long involvement in Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

As Tamzin writes: ‘Julia was deeply attached to the North East, and her writing falls into the tradition of the great northern writers with authentic comic stories about “invisible” people, the fragility of relationships, and the “raw mess of love”.’

Pearl and other stories

In 2018 Tamzin edited Pearl and other stories, a heartbreakingly funny collection of Julia’s emotionally intelligent stories. As her friend Jackie Kay writes of the book: ‘Time and time again, the reader thinks, yes, that’s it exactly. Here’s a whole cast of characters who will win over your heart.’

In her Foreword for Pearl and other stories Val McDermid observed that ‘even when she’s confronting the most difficult of moments, Julia Darling’s short stories feel like a hug of words.’