|27 Sep 2023|
Phoebe Walker has worked with an impressive roster of arts organisations, including the British Council, the Royal Society of Literature, RADA, the Poetry School, the Poetry Society, the Bush Theatre. Now, she’s proud to have written her debut novel, inspired by time spent abroad. As Phoebe explains: “I spent two years in the Netherlands with my partner, which was really important in helping me shape my ideas around what kind of work I valued and wanted to do…it also helped me think more intensely about questions of identity (including Northern, British, and European identities), social performance and relationships, and work culture, which are all ideas I continue to explore in my writing.”
Temper is a striking first novel, which examines loneliness, self-worth and disconnection. It displays a powerful first-person narrative style that Phoebe has always had a strong connection with: “Whilst at Dame Allan’s, I think I had a natural leaning towards subjects with a strong narrative element – English and History being the most obvious – this was encouraged and helped me to develop a certain stamina around writing, as well as the beginnings of style.
“Being able to talk freely, discuss and debate, especially in Sixth Form English lessons, but also outside of the classroom, when our dialogues around what we were reading and engaging with became much more free-flowing and discursive – that was important in encouraging me to feel the significance of narrative, and how it’s used.”
Reflecting back on her time at Dame Allan’s, several staff members stood out for Phoebe, notably English teacher Mr Hannaford, plus history teachers Mrs Downie and Mrs Fiddaman, who ‘really brought their subject to life.’
As well as her academic interests, Phoebe was involved with art and music whilst at school, including the Dame Allan’s choir - sparking fond memories of a ‘fairly chaotic!’ singing tour to Paris when she was 17. Showing early promise in the literary craft, Phoebe also spent some time editing the school magazine, pushing for the addition of more creative content.
Phoebe, who is also a passionate advocate for social justice organisations - including causes ranging from mental health to women’s rights, to supporting those held in immigration detention - is modest when asked what advice she would give to current Dame Allan’s students:
“I don’t think they need any advice from me. But if I had to give some – make the most of any opportunities that come your way, be open to new experiences and perspectives, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
You can find out more about Phoebe’s work, and purchase your own copy of Temper, here.
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