Duncan Fallowell

Duncan Fallowell (born 1948) is an English novelist, travel writer, memoirist, journalist and critic.[1]

Early life

Fallowell was born on 26 September 1948 in London. His family later moved to Somerset and Essex before settling in Berkshire. While at St Paul's School, London, he established a friendship with John Betjeman,[2] and through him, links to literary London. In 1967 he went to Magdalen College, Oxford (BA and MA in History). At the university he was a pupil of Karl Leyser, Hugh Trevor-Roper and Howard Colvin. He was also part of a group experimenting with psychedelic drugs.[3] While an undergraduate he became a friend of the trans-sexual April Ashley, whose biography he later wrote.[4]) and familiar with the "Chelsea Set" of Swinging London.


In 1970, at the age of 21, Fallowell was given a pop column in the Spectator.[5] He was subsequently the magazine's film critic and fiction critic. During the 1970s he travelled in Europe, India and the Far East, collaborated on the punk glossies Deluxe and Boulevard, and worked with the avant-garde German group Can. He began writing about Can's music in the British press in 1970 and visited the group in Cologne soon after. He explored other aspects of the German rock scene at the beginning of the 1970s, visiting Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. He wrote verbal covers to many of Can singer Damo Suzuki's non-linguistic vocals and when Damo left the band in 1973, Fallowell was asked if he'd like to take over as vocalist – "after a long dark night of the soul", he decided against it.[6]

In 1979 he edited a collection of short stories, Drug Tales.[7] This was followed by two novels, Satyrday [8] and The Underbelly.[9] Chris Petit, reviewing the second for The Times, wrote: "The author's pose and prose is that of dandy as cosh-boy.... The writing attains a sort of frenzied detachment found in the drawings of Steadman or Scarfe."[10]

During the 1980s Fallowell spent much of his time in the south of France and in Sicily, celebrated in the travel book To Noto.[11] Patrick Taylor-Martin, reviewing it, called the author "stylishly at ease with the louche, the camp, the intellectual, the vaguely criminal. His prose combines baroque extravagance with a shiny demotic smartness.... He is particularly good on sexual atmosphere."[12] His second travel book: One Hot Summer in St Petersburg,[13] was the outcome of a period living in Russia's old imperial capital. Michael Ratcliffe, literary editor of The Observer, made it his Book of the Year: it "combines, as exhilaratingly as Christopher Isherwood's Berlin writings, the pleasures of travel, reporting, autobiography.... There is candour of every kind... an absolute knockout."[14] Anthony Cross, Emeritus Professor of Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge, in his book on St Petersburg and the British, wrote that Fallowell's "evocation of life in the new St Petersburg is a stunning tour de force... in the spirit of Nikolai Gogol."[15] Fallowell has said that "My original title was Funky Dmitri, but I was persuaded that the word funky would pass out of fashion – which it hasn't and it wouldn't have mattered if it had. I still think of the book by that title."

It was while living in St Petersburg that he wrote the first draft of the libretto for the opera Gormenghast, inspired by Mervyn Peake’s trilogy. With music composed by Irmin Schmidt, this was first staged in 1998 at the Wuppertal Opera in Germany, which had commissioned it. Schmidt was a member of Can and Fallowell had already written the lyrics to two albums of his songs: Musk at Dusk (1987) and Impossible Holidays (1991). This work is also featured in Irmin Schmidt's compilation Villa Wunderbar (2013) and his collection Electro Violet (2015).

A third novel, A History of Facelifting,[16] draws on his experience of the Marches, the border country in Herefordshire and mid-Wales, which Fallowell discovered in 1972 when he first visited Hay-on-Wye at the invitation of Richard Booth. Fallowell has visited the area often since then, at times staying for long periods in remote cottages. A third travel book, Going As Far As I Can,[17] recounted Fallowell's wanderings through New Zealand. Jonathan Meades described it as having the ghostly atmosphere of de Chirico's paintings: "The text has the movement of a dream," he remarked in the New Statesman feature "Books of the Year 2008".

His books have been controversial – Bruno Bayley in Vice Magazine wrote that Fallowell has "penned novels that people seem to have a tendency to burn."[18] In the same interview, Fallowell told him, "Fiction is such a turn-off word, not because I am against imaginative work – of course not – but because there is so much crap published as fiction. I am interested in literature. I am not interested in some commercial idea that is simply verbalised. I want high performance language operated by an expert." Roger Lewis dubbed Fallowell "the modern Petronius" in a recent book.[19]

As a journalist Fallowell identified with the New Journalism movement, which advanced a literary form variously taking in reportage, interview, commentary, autobiography, travel, history and criticism. He has only worked freelance. His writings have appeared in The Times, The Sunday Times, Observer, Guardian, Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The American Scholar, the Paris Review, Tatler, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Playboy, Penthouse, Encounter, Tages Anzeiger, The Age, La Repubblica, New Statesman, Vice, and many other publications. He has often contributed to the intellectual monthly Prospect and has had columns in the Spectator, Evening Standard and several online magazines. A collection of Fallowell's interview-profiles, Twentieth Century Characters[20] was described by Richard Davenport-Hines as "like Aubrey's Brief Lives in twentieth-century accents. The effect is of a rich, energetic frivolity and passionate curiosity about human types."[21]

How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits was published in 2011 by Ditto Press, designed by Nazareno Crea; it was awarded the PEN/Ackerley Prize for memoir in 2012.[22] Chairman of the judges Peter Parker commended it as "a subtle, beautifully written and often very funny example of autobiography by stealth." Alan Hollinghurst, in the Guardian Books of the Year, called it 'brilliant and haunting'.[23] The Independent on Sunday said Fallowell "writes like a spikier Sebald, alternating between acerbic witticisms and passages of voluptuous description."[24]

Fallowell has for many years conducted an epistolary relationship with the Surrealist Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg.[25]

In an interview with Prospect magazine (May, 2008), Fallowell said '. . . both Graham Greene and Harold Acton said that I belong to the 21st century. At the time I was rather distressed by that, as it seemed a form of rejection. But now I understand it a little better.'



  1. ^ See also entries in Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th edition; and current Who's Who).
  2. ^ John Betjeman Letters Vol Two (1951-1984) edited by Candida Lycett Green, London 1995
  3. ^ [1] Statement by Fallowell. Retrieved 7 December 2018].
  4. ^ April Ashley's Odyssey, London, 1982.
  5. ^ Spectator Archive: http://archive.spectator.co.uk/
  6. ^ Prospect Magazine, March 28, 2008.
  7. ^ London, 1979.
  8. ^ London, 1986.
  9. ^ London, 1987.
  10. ^ Chris Petit, The Times 26 November 1987.
  11. ^ London, 1989.
  12. ^ Patrick Taylor-Martin, The Listener, 9 November 1989.
  13. ^ London, 1994
  14. ^ Michael Ratcliffe, The Observer Review 11 December 1994.
  15. ^ Anthony Cross: St Petersburg and the British, London, 2008.
  16. ^ A History of Facelifting, London, 2003.
  17. ^ Going As Far As I Can London 2008
  18. ^ Vice Magazine, 2 December 2009.
  19. ^ Roger Lewis: What Am I Still Doing Here?, London, 2012.
  20. ^ London, 1994.
  21. ^ Richard Davenport-Hines: Times Literary Supplement 4 November 1994.
  22. ^ [2]
  23. ^ Guardian 25 November 2011.
  24. ^ David Evans: Independent on Sunday 11 August 2013.
  25. ^ Described in "Why is a fish like a bicycle?", Spectator, 11 April 2015.
  26. ^ http://rsliterature.org/fellows/current-fellows/

External links

See also

Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, (7 March 1930 – 13 January 2017), commonly known as Lord Snowdon, was a British photographer and filmmaker. He was the husband of Princess Margaret and brother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II.

April Ashley

April Ashley, MBE (born 29 April 1935) is an English model and restaurant hostess. She was outed as a transgender woman by the Sunday People newspaper in 1961 and is one of the earliest British people known to have had sex reassignment surgery.

Bapsybanoo Pavry

Bapsy Paulet, Marchioness of Winchester, also known as Bapsybanoo Pavry, was an Indian-born socialite and aristocrat.

Gormenghast (opera)

Gormenghast is an opera in three acts composed by Irmin Schmidt to an English-language libretto by Duncan Fallowell, based on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy. It premiered at the Opernhaus Wuppertal on 15 November 1998.

Joi Bangla

Joi Bangla is an EP by Indian sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, issued in August 1971 on Apple Records. The recording was produced by George Harrison and its release marked the first in a series of occasional collaborations between the two musicians that lasted until the Chants of India album in 1997. Shankar recorded the EP in Los Angeles, to help raise international awareness of the plight faced by refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War, in advance of his and Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh shows at Madison Square Garden, New York. Side one of the disc consists of two vocal compositions sung in Bengali, of which the title track was a message of unity to the newly independent nation, formerly known as East Pakistan. The third selection is a duet by Shankar and sarodya Ali Akbar Khan, supported by Alla Rakha on tabla, a performance that presaged their opening set at the Concert for Bangladesh.

Joi Bangla was the first of four Shankar-related releases on the Beatles' Apple label, closely followed by the Raga soundtrack album. The EP has been out of print since soon after its release. Of the three tracks, only "Oh Bhaugowan" has been reissued – on the Harrison-compiled Ravi Shankar: In Celebration box set (1996).

Leonard Plugge

Captain Leonard Frank Plugge (21 September 1889 – 19 February 1981) was a British businessman and Conservative Party politician.

Lionel Johnson

Lionel Pigot Johnson (15 March 1867 – 4 October 1902) was an English poet, essayist, and critic.

Miles Warren

For Professor Miles Warren, a supporting character of Spider-Man, see Jackal (Marvel Comics).

Sir Frederick Miles Warren, (born 1929), is a New Zealand architect. He apprenticed under Cecil Wood before studying architecture at the University of Auckland, eventually working at the London County Council where he was exposed to British New Brutalism. Upon returning to Christchurch, and forming the practice Warren and Mahoney, he was instrumental in developing the "Christchurch School" of architecture, an intersection between the truth-to-materials and structural expression that characterised Brutalism, and the low-key, Scandinavian and Japanese commitment to "straightforwardness". He retired from Warren and Mahoney in 1994, but continues to consult as an architect and maintain his historic home and garden at Ohinetahi.

Nina Antonia

Nina Antonia (born Nina Antonia Benjamin 1960 in Liverpool) is an English author. She has written articles and books about Johnny Thunders, the New York Dolls, The Only Ones, Peter Doherty and a memoir of glam star Brett Smiley entitled 'The Prettiest Star'. She has also contributed to Classic Rock, Mojo & Uncut, as well penning liner notes for a variety of artists including Lou Reed, Nico, The Stooges, Vince Taylor, Link Wray and Wanda Jackson.

A selection of her work can be found on Rock's Back Pages.

Antonia is featured in the Sundance nominated documentary New York Doll alongside Morrissey, Mick Jones and Iggy Pop and can be seen in Danny Garcia's poignant documentary Looking For Johnny. Nina also appears in Garcia's 2019 documentary, Stiv - No Compromise, No Regrets about Stiv Bators. As well as appearing on Radio One and Radio Six, Nina has performed at spoken word events and enjoyed a retrospective of her work at the Barbican curated by Jay Clifton. Clifton commented 'The special value of Nina's oeuvre lies not so much in her subjects, but in her personal commitment to both the documentation of them and a search for the truth about both their character and their cultural significance. Like the best writers, she begins from personal fascinations. But with a balance of personal feelings and objective contemplation, combined with a fluid literary style, she writes books that resonate beyond the parameters of the surface material.' In 2013, Antonia lectured on Glam at Tate Liverpool.Nina's first book Johnny Thunders...In Cold Blood (Jungle Records, 1987) which has been in print for over 25 years, was hailed by the New Musical Express as 'Gorgeously Sordid' and awarded four stars. In 2012, the book was optioned to a Hollywood production company. A de luxe Italian translation of the Thunders book appeared in late 2015 from Pipeline Books.

In March 2015, Antonia's classic 'The One and Only: Peter Perrett, Homme Fatale' was re-published by Thin Man Press. The new, expanded edition was hailed as 'a ravishing read' and 'an engrossing account'. Reviewer Gus Ironside, writing in Louder than War' suggested that Nina Antonia merits a far higher media profile but has been 'excluded from the "Boys' Club" of mainstream rock journalism'. Antonia appeared in conversation with Perrett at the Albert Hall to coincide with the new edition.

In July 2014, Thin Man Press published 'From Albion to Shangri-La' by Peter Doherty, edited by Antonia who transcribed the content from Doherty's hand-written journals. Doherty penned the preface to the book in which he remarked, 'Seen Nina write, she riots'. International Times celebrated Antonia's contribution in a review: 'Nina Antonia, Peter Doherty's understanding editor and literary soulmate...aids and abets his literary rebellion'. In 2016, Nina had her first supernatural piece ‘South-West 13’ published in an Egaeus Press anthology ‘Soliloquy for Pan’ which sold out within days. She has continued to contribute to Egaeus, penning a novella length essay ‘How Shall Dead Men Sing’ about Lord Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde. Another essay ‘Bosie and The Beast’ appeared in Fenris Wolf 8, in 2017. The August issue of The Reprobate features an interview Nina did with Holly Woodlawn as well as a review of Caroline Coon's memoir Laid Bare. Nina’s first supernatural novel ‘The Greenwood Faun’ was published by Egaeus Press in December 2017. It was reviewed by Gus Ironside for Louder Than War, Mark Andresen from The Pan Review who also interviewed Antonia and Caroline Coon on her website. On 21 February 2018 Michael Dirda wrote an article for The Washington Post entitled, Four literary fanzines that can save your life. Or at least make you less lonely, where he reviewed Wormwood and called the second half of Antonia's essay, Incurable: Lionel Johnson, the Disconsolate Decadent, "enthralling".Michael Dirda also reviewed 'The Greenwood Faun' in his April 25 Washington Post article, Stories that are strange, fantastical — and utterly engrossing. In October 2018, Incurable: The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era’s Dark Angel, which has been edited by Nina Antonia and includes a detailed biographical essay by her, will be released by Strange Attractor Press.Duncan Fallowell included Incurable: The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era’s Dark Angel in his choice of books of the year (2018) for The Spectator. On December 5, 2018, Michael Dirda in his book review, The ’90s are having a literary moment. That is, the 1890s. . ., for the Washington Post included Incurable: The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era's Dark Angel as a must read.

Notting Hill

Notting Hill is a district in West London, located north of Kensington within the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. Notting Hill is known for being a cosmopolitan neighbourhood, hosting the annual Notting Hill Carnival and Portobello Road Market.In the early 21st century, Notting Hill has a reputation as an affluent and fashionable area known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses and high-end shopping and restaurants (particularly around Westbourne Grove and Clarendon Cross). A Daily Telegraph article in 2004 used the phrase "the Notting Hill Set" to refer to a group of emerging Conservative politicians, such as David Cameron and George Osborne, who would become respectively Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer and were once based in Notting Hill.

For much of the 20th century, the large houses were subdivided into multi-occupancy rentals. Caribbean immigrants were drawn to the area in the 1950s, partly because of the cheap rents, but were exploited by slum landlords like Peter Rachman and also became the target of white Teddy Boys in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots.

From around 1870, Notting Hill had an association with artists.

Opernhaus Wuppertal

Opernhaus Wuppertal (Wuppertal Opera House) is a German theatre in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia. It houses mostly performances of operas, but also plays, run by the municipal Wuppertaler Bühnen. The house is also the venue for dance performances by the Tanztheater Wuppertal company created by Pina Bausch.

The house was built in 1905 on a design by Carl Moritz as the Stadttheater Barmen ("Barmen Municipal Theatre"). It was rebuilt after being severely damaged during World War II, and again restored over the period 2006-2009. The theatre is located in the center of Wuppertal-Barmen, served by the Wuppertal Suspension Railway and Wuppertal-Barmen station.

PEN/Ackerley Prize

PEN Ackerley Prize (or, J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography) is awarded annually by English PEN for a literary autobiography of excellence, written by an author of British nationality and published during the preceding year. The winner receives £3,000. In recent years, the winner has been announced at the annual English PEN summer party.

The award was established by Nancy West, née Ackerley, sister of English author and editor J. R. Ackerley.

The prize is judged by the trustees of the J. R. Ackerley Trust. There is no formal submission process for the award - judges simply 'call in' books to be added to their longlist.

Peter Quennell

Sir Peter Courtney Quennell CBE (9 March 1905 – 27 October 1993) was an English biographer, literary historian, editor, essayist, poet, and critic. He wrote extensively on social history.

Psychedelic literature

This is a list of psychedelic literature, works related to psychedelic drugs and the psychedelic experience. Psychedelic literature has also been defined as textual works that arose from the proliferation of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic research with hallucinogens during the 1950s and early 1960s in North America and Europe.

Royal Society of Literature

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) is a learned society founded in 1820, by King George IV, to 'reward literary merit and excite literary talent'. The society is a cultural tenant at London's Somerset House.

Sir Michael Duff, 3rd Baronet

Sir Charles Michael Robert Vivian Duff, 3rd Baronet (3 May 1907– 3 March 1980) was a British socialite who was Lord Lieutenant first of Caernarvonshire and then of Gwynedd.

Soon Over Babaluma

Soon Over Babaluma is the sixth studio album by the rock music group Can. This is the band's first album without a lead vocalist who does not play an instrument, following the departure of Damo Suzuki in 1973 during which he married his German girlfriend. The vocals are provided by guitarist Michael Karoli and keyboardist Irmin Schmidt. It is also their last album that was created using a two-track recorder.

It takes the ambient style of Future Days and pushes it even further at times, as on "Quantum Physics", although there are also some upbeat tracks, such as "Chain Reaction" and "Dizzy Dizzy".

The Pursuit of Laughter

The Pursuit of Laughter is a 2008 collection of diaries, articles, reviews and portraits by Diana Mitford. The book was published by Gibson Square and edited by Martin Rynja. Mitford's sister, Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, provides the introduction. The title is a homage to another Mitford sister's book, Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love.

USP College

USP College (Unified Seevic Palmer’s, previously known as Seevic and Palmer's Colleges Group) is a further education college located in Thundersley, Benfleet, Essex, and Grays Thurrock, England. Approximately 4,500 students attend the college. The Seevic campus name was originally an acronym for South East Essex Sixth (VI) Form College. The Thundersley campus opened in September 1972. The Palmer's Campus in Grays can trace its history back to 1706.

The Seevic Campus offers adult education courses for learners of any age. Both campuses offer a special needs department for anyone with a learning disability. The Palmer's campus opened its special needs department in September 2018, following the success of the Seevic Campus one which has been running for several years and has over 94 students in the department.

In 2018 Seevic merged with Palmer's College as part of a government initiative. From September 2018 the colleges were renamed USP College with a new logo.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.