Neil Rathmell – writer

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 Playhouse, 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.


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

Subsequently, 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.

Revenge of the Sea God is one of the plays recommended by Youth Theatre Ireland in Playshare and was performed by Prague Youth Theatre in June 2019.

prague youth theatre 01

Unspoken – a play about a man and his stammer 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. It has since been performed at an international speech therapy conference in Antwerp and at the John Lyons Theatre in London.

A new production by BMH Productions ran for five nights at The Old Schoolhouse, Oxford, from 22-26 March 2019.


“Realistic… enlightening and wholly engaging.”

Almost exactly a year later, 4-7 July 2018, I directed two of my plays at The Carriageworks as a double bill, It’s A Miracle and The Colin Atkins Story.

“Brilliantly written, great energy. Really enjoyed it!”
“An excellent evening’s entertainment.”

This was followed by a new play, Rough Sleepers, which was produced by Leeds Arts Centre at the Carriageworks from 23-26 October 2019.


My short fiction has been published in Ambit, PopshotProle, The Penny Dreadful and The Poetry Bus. Longer works of fiction, published under my own imprint, 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.”

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