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“Our drab north London suburb”

rp_IMG_2289-225x300.jpgAfter a run in Chichester last year, Hugh Whitemore’s play Stevie transfers to the Hampstead Theatre this month.

The biographical play follows Stevie Smith as she commutes to her secretarial job at a publishers, spending her evenings with her beloved maiden aunt here in Palmers Green, at the house in Avondale Road where she lived almost all her life. It’s a life of suburban routine, which, as in her famous poem Waving not Drowning, conceals something rather darker beneath.

The production, starring Zoe Wannamaker and Lynda Baron, has garnered good reviews from The Times and The Independent, though some others have been less glowing, about the production, and, apparently, about the life affirming possibilities of living in Palmers Green.

Stevie runs from now until 18 April at the Hampstead Theatre. Tickets are £18-£35

Art and Culture Uncategorized

Celebrating Stevie Smith, Palmers Green’s poet


1 Avondale, the home of poet Stevie Smith until 1971

The suburbs are not traditionally full of poets and artists.   Perhaps Palmers Green, though, is an exception, as home to at least two great writers: Paul Scott and Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith lived in the same house in Palmers Green, 1 Avondale, from the age of four until her death in 1971 at the age of 69 – sixty five years. Her suburban surroundings and the experience of living in Palmers Green connected profoundly with her writing.

In 2002 Palmers Green hosted a poetry festival, under the title 10 days with Stevie Smith, complete with its own ‘fringe’ (a gent by the name of Peter Brown playing a song inspired by the poem Avondale on the harmonium who met festival goers at the station). An English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled in her memory by poet laureate Andrew Motion in 2005.

Since then, though, and particularly with the demise of the Palmers Green Bookshop, all seems to have gone quiet in remembering and celebrating Stevie. Until now. On Saturday 30 June, poets Anne Bryan and Katherine Gallagher will be holding a day’s workshop at St John’s Parish Centre, Palmers Green, under the title Not waving by drowing: not drowning but waving – the enigma of Stevie Smith.

The day will be in two parts – a writing workshop from 10.30 am- 1 pm, followed by, from 2 – 4.30,  a talk ‘Who was Stevie?’ plus questions and readings of poems.

Writing workshop £16, ( £13 conc.) Afternoon: £12 (£10 concs.) Full day – £28 (£23 concs.). Booking essential.

For further information, please telephone 020 8881 1418  web site