Neil Rathmell

100+ essays on literary topics


I grew up in Yorkshire, read English at Jesus College, Cambridge and went on to teach English and drama at secondary schools in Cheshire, Co. Durham and Shropshire, where I became County Adviser for Drama and the Arts.  Now I am back in Yorkshire.

I’m not sure where my love of theatre came from, but it started early. I was writing plays and pestering my teachers to put them on when I was still at primary school. Writing stories, poems and novels came a little later, encouraged by English teachers at secondary school.

For four or five years, while I was still at school, I was a member of the Bradford Civic Theatre, an amateur theatre group with an ambitious programme and a strong track-record in nurturing talent and launching actors on professional careers. Billie Whitelaw, Robert Stephens and Gorden Kaye all started there. The Civic was part of the Little Theatre movement which began with Hampstead Theatre and was a vital force in British theatre in the mid-twentieth century, bridging the gap between amateur and professional, which is now sadly wider than it has ever been.


Gorden Kaye (standing) and Neil Rathmell (seated right) in a production of G.B.Shaw’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ at Bradford Civic Theatre, c.1964

Not long after I had left Cambridge and started work as an English teacher, Faber & Faber included two of my short stories in Introduction 4 – stories by new writers. My first novel, The Old School, was published by Faber & Faber in 1976.

‘Integrity and exactness shine forth from every page.’  The Sunday Times.
‘A nice line in the manic.’  New Statesman.
‘Sweetly funny, kind, perceptive, unpretentious.’  The Guardian

In the intervening years, as a drama teacher and youth theatre director, I wrote and directed many plays for performance by young people and some by older people too. The scripts of some of those plays are available in e-book format from Amazon.

My latest play is Unspoken – a play about a man and his stammer. It was written in collaboration with speech and language therapist Dr Trudy Stewart and had its first performance in a production by Leeds Arts Centre at The Carriageworks, Leeds, 5-8 July 2017. Every performance was sold out.

My short fiction has been published recently in Ambit, PopshotProle and The Penny Dreadful. Longer works of fiction, published under my own imprint, Southernwood Press, are available in paperback and e-book format from Amazon. The script of Unspoken is available there too.

‘Neil Rathmell’s Peter [in Prole 19] is an unflinching tale that sweeps through an entire life.’

I now have four grandchildren for whom I have written a few short pieces, but they are just for them.

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