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Liz Lochhead - Author

About the Author

Liz Lochhead was born in Motherwell in Lanarkshire on 26 December 1947. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art between 1965 and 1970 before teaching fine art in Glasgow and Bristol for over eight years. In the early 1970s she joined Philip Hobsbaum’s writer’s group, other members of which included Alasdair Gray, James Kelman and Tom Leonard. Her first collection of poems, Memo for Spring, was published in 1972 and won a Scottish Arts Council Award. In 1978 she was selected for a Scottish/Canadian Writer’s Exchange fellowship. She abandoned her teaching career and travelled to Canada to become a full-time performance poet, writer and broadcaster, later returning to Scotland. From 1986 to 1987 she was the writer in residence at the University of Edinburgh and in 1988 became writer in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
 
Regarded as one of Scotland’s most popular dramatists, Liz Lochhead’s plays include Blood and Ice (1982), Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (1987), an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1989), Cuba (1997), Perfect Days (2000) and Good Things (2004). Her adaptation of Moliere’s Tartuffe into Scots was greeted with considerable critical acclaim upon its publication in 1985 and the script of her adaptation of Euripides’ Medea for Theatre Babel won the 2000 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award. In 2001 she moved into the world of film, writing the screenplay of Latin for a Dark Room which was screened by the BBC as part of the Tartan Shorts series.
 
Although she has been variously described throughout the years as a poet, feminist playwright, translator and broadcaster, she has said, 'The most precious thing to me is to be a poet. If I were a playwright, I’d like to be a poet in the theatre.’ Her poetry is as equally thought-provoking and entertaining as her drama, and she often gives live readings to audiences around the country, collaborating with other artists, most notably with the Dundee singer-songwriter Michael Marra. Her verse is characterised by a self-conscious effort to mimic the idioms of speech, adopting a range of spoken styles that include the lyrical use of rap, colloquialisms and even advertising language in an effort to raise the profile of the marginalised voices of both Scots and women. Her most famous poetry collections include Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 1967–1984 (1984), True Confessions and New Clichés (1985), and Bagpipe Muzak (1991). The Colour of Black and White: Poems 1984-2003 was published by Polygon in 2003.
 
In 2000 she was presented with an honorary degree by the University of Edinburgh and in 2002 she was awarded an honorary DLitt from the University of St Andrews. She succeeded Edwin Morgan as Glasgow's Poet Laureate in 2005 and then as Scottish Makar in January 2011.

 

Author photo © Graham Clark

Featured books by Liz Lochhead

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/04/2009

This is the familiar tale of the enmity between Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots, but retold by Scotland's unofficial Poet Laureate with a ferocious iconoclasm. Needless to say, the play ends when Mary Queen of Scots gets her head chopped off! A modern Scottish classic, first staged at the Edinburgh Lyceum in 1987, Liz Lochhead's Mary Queen of Scots is republished here in a revised version with a new introduction by the author. The play is enormously popular with Scottish schools and drama groups. It was originally published by Penguin.

Other books by Liz Lochhead

Thon Man Moliere

Thon Man Moliere

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2017

Welcome to Paris at the time of Louis XIV. Come backstage and meet the King-s theatre company - a troupe of, grande dames, old hams, ingenue's and of course, their leading man. Right at the centre, author of their dramas and cause of all their troubles - Thon man Moliere. In constant threat of debtor's prison, in big bother with church and state and - worst of all - disastrously in love with the wrong wife, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin de Moliere writes brilliant comedies inspired by a desperate life. But telling the truth is a dangerous business and getting his latest drama on stage could be the death of him! Writer of the acclaimed Perfect Days and Mary Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped Off, as well as celebrated Scots versions of Medea, Oedipus, Antigone and Moliere's great trio of masterpieces; poet and playwright Liz Lochhead new original play (premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh) tells the story of her hero, the great comedian Moliere; his scandalous marriage, his scurrilous plays and the irresistible creation of his infamous and celebrated satire Tartuffe.

Fugitive Colours

Fugitive Colours

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/05/2016

This stunning new collection features never before published work along with poems written during her time as Scots Makar, and marks the end of her term as Scotland's Poet Laureate (2011-2016). Whether commissioned works, such as 'Connecting Cultures', written for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 or more personal works, 'Favourite Place', about holidays in the west coast with her late husband, this collection is beautiful, sensitive and brilliant. Throughout her career Liz Lochhead has been described variously as a poet, feminist-playwright, translator and broadcaster but has said that 'when somebody asks me what I do I usually say writer. The most precious thing to me is to be a poet. If I were a playwright, I'd like to be a poet in the theatre.'

Quelques Fleur (NHB Modern Plays)

Quelques Fleur (NHB Modern Plays)

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: eBook Release Date: 20/11/2014

A short play from the leading Scottish poet and playwright. Verena and her oilman husband are childless, and their marriage is unravelling. In two intercut monologues which take place over the course of a year, we enter the hearts of each of them in turn.

Liz Lochhead: Five Plays

Liz Lochhead: Five Plays

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/08/2012

The first collection of plays by Scotland's National Poet and beloved playwright. Includes: Blood and Ice, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, Quelques Fleurs, Perfect Days, and Good Things. All five plays, while very different, feature Lochhead's special language: a blend of the intensely colloquial and energetically poetic.

A Choosing The Selected Poems of Liz Lochhead

A Choosing The Selected Poems of Liz Lochhead

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/09/2011

During her career Liz Lochhead has been described variously as a poet, feminist playwright, translator and broadcaster but has said that 'when somebody asks me what I do I usually say writer. The most precious thing to me is to be a poet. If I were a playwright, I'd like to be a poet in the theatre.' Liz Lochhead has a large and devoted audience and delights audiences where she goes.

Blood and Ice

Blood and Ice

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 25/08/2009

Summer 1816. A house party on the shores of Lake Geneva. Mary Shelley and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, along with Mary's half-sister Claire and the infamous Lord Byron, take part in a challenge to see who can write the most horrifying story. Mary creates one of the most celebrated Gothic novels of all time, but how did this monstrous horror flow from the pen of a 21-year-old English woman? First staged in 1984 and revived several times since, Liz Lochhead tells the story of Frankenstein's creation as if set in a ghostly nursery. Using flashbacks and the rich poetic language for which she has become admired, Lochhead weaves a spider's web of connections between Mary's own tragic life and that of her literary monster.

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/04/2009

This is the familiar tale of the enmity between Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots, but retold by Scotland's unofficial Poet Laureate with a ferocious iconoclasm. Needless to say, the play ends when Mary Queen of Scots gets her head chopped off! A modern Scottish classic, first staged at the Edinburgh Lyceum in 1987, Liz Lochhead's Mary Queen of Scots is republished here in a revised version with a new introduction by the author. The play is enormously popular with Scottish schools and drama groups. It was originally published by Penguin.

Good Things

Good Things

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/04/2005

New romantic comedy from 'Scotlands greatest dramatist' (Scotland on Sunday), a massive hit at the Tron, Glasgow and on tour in 2004. Ever felt like a walking cliche? Susan, suddenly single and with the dreaded 5-0 glaring her in the face, has an Old Dad in his second childhood, a daughter in the throes of aggravated adolescence and an ex who, unfortunately, still has the power to wound...Set exclusively in the Charity Shop where she's a volunteer, Good Things is a poignant, hilarious, play with a lot to say about love the second time.

Handfast Scottish Poems for Weddings and Affirmations

Handfast Scottish Poems for Weddings and Affirmations

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/08/2004

*Suitable for reading aloud - a lot of similar anthologies have weddings as their subject but don't offer really public poems *Chosen by the Scottish Poetry Library's Assistant Librarian, who has been answering the constant stream of requests for such poems for the last ten years, and knows what is valued *Introduction by one of Scotland's most famous poets *New pieces by well-known poets specially written for this volume

Thebans

Thebans

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/08/2003

Following her award-winning Medea, Liz Lochhead has revisited the Greek classics and retold the stories of Oedipus and Antigone in a dazzling new Scots-inflected version of the Thebans. Lochhead is a poet, playwright, performer and broadcaster. Her plays include Perfect Days and new version of Moliere's Le Misanthrope and Tartuffe.

True Confessions and New Cliches

True Confessions and New Cliches

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2003

In True Confessions & New Cliches, Liz Lochhead has brought together a selection of the best of her raps, songs, sketches and monologues from her plays and revues. She pokes fun at the seriousness with which we deal with everyday events in touching and hilarious ways. For a poet who believes so much in poetry belonging to the voice, these works hold a special place and they have become firm favorites with the many fans who attend her public readings.

Dreaming Frankenstein

Dreaming Frankenstein

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/06/2003

Liz Lochhead has built an impressive reputation as poet, playwright and performer attracting a large and admiring public. Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems stands as a monument to her early work: four collections Memo for Spring (1972), Islands (1978) and Grimm Sisters (1981) and the title volume together provide a complete record of her poetry from 1967 to 1984. In Dreaming Frankenstein human relationships, especially as seen from a woman's point of view, are central. Attraction, pain, acceptance, loss, triumphs and deceptions all are made immediate through her imagery and acute powers of observation and through her flair as a storyteller.

The Colour of Black and White

The Colour of Black and White

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/06/2003

The Colour of Black and White is Liz Lochhead's first collection of poems for more than a dozen years, and, for her, the most important since the award-winning Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems in 1984. The coming of a simple love lyric feels like a proof that some vital stream hasn't dried up. These new poems are often poems of love or death and iconic figures, Jungian archetypes, animus figures with strong outlines, harsh comfort and, often, voices of their own dominate the first, the 'title' section of the book. Here you can find poems autobiographical and entirely fictional set in her native rural/industrial Lanarkshire. Poems dedicated to other poets. There is a section of the rude and the rhyming, the out-loud. Now she's in her middle years she's decided to own up to this stuff properly, her interest in 'unrespectable' poetry, in black prison 'toasts', in recitations, folk-poems and music hall monologues. The colour of both the black and the white. The collaboration with the printmaker Willie Rodger was also an essential part of the making of this book. Lochhead, long an admirer of Rodger's work, felt strongly that he was a kindred spirit and his poetically pared down and essential lino cuts accentuate the positive and the negative, the black and the white.

Miseryguts & Tartuffe Two plays by Moliere

Miseryguts & Tartuffe Two plays by Moliere

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/03/2002

New Liz Lochhead comedy - a Scots version of Moliere's Misanthrope - to coincide with premiere at Edinburgh Lyceum One of Scotland's most popular writers, the multi-award winning Liz Lochhead, takes on Moliere's most famous play. Le Misanthrope is a bitter comedy about a sophisticated Parisian who cannot help telling uncomfortable truths about his fellow men. Lochhead transposes the setting to present-day Scotland - and instantly injects the zest and vigour typical of her own comedies, most notably Perfect Days. The world premiere of Misery Guts is at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, on 23 March 2002. Also in the volume is Liz Lochhead's other 'Scottish Moliere', her version of Tartuffe, first seen ten years ago and now something of a classic.

Medea

Medea

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2000

Liz Lochhead's stunning new version of Medea is the kind of interpretation--brave, visionary, risky--that blows a well-known text apart and reassembles it in a completely new light... What Lochhead does is to recast Medea as an episode--ancient but new, cosmic yet agonizingly familiar--in a sex war which is recognizable to every woman, and most of the men, in the theatre... --The Scotsman

Perfect Days

Perfect Days

Author: Liz Lochhead Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/02/1999

Winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First Award Barbs Marshall is a celebrity hairdresser in Glasgow. She is successful and well off, but she is 39 years old and almost deafened by the ticking of her biological clock. To make matters worse, her mother is a nag, her best friend is holding out on her, and her ex-husband has a new 22-year-old girlfriend. Then she meets a 26-year-old stranger who seems more than ready to oblige. But the complications are by no means over...

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