The Reader 65

Our first edition of 2017 and a special Anniversary Issue to mark 20 years of The Reader magazine.

Between the colourful covers of this quarter’s edition there’s the usual medley of voices, some new, some familiar, kicking off discussions about writer’s houses, the importance of colour, chronic pain, the poet Edward Thomas, as well as a wealth of new poetry and fiction to be devoured.

James Aitichison, Jane Bonnyman, Martin Malone and Nausheen Eusef provide an impressive selection of new poems while Brian Nellist casts an eye back to George Herbert’s catalogue for The Old Poem.

The Poet on Her Work this issue is Julie-ann Rowell, who writes about the personal connection she felt to the anguish and injustice suffered by Jean McConville’s family. Abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1972, McConville’s body was only discovered in 2003 but it brought no sense of closure to her children, who had been fostered separately after her death – one boy suffering abuse in a home run by The Christian Brothers. For Rowell, poetry “shouldn’t play it safe; it should address all aspects of life, however difficult, but always with heart.”

“For me, when subjects present themselves to be written about they are rarely straightforward.”

Julie-ann Rowell


Turning to fiction, there’s an intriguing short story from Ilana Baram who explores a series of odd encounters between two schools girls and a boy “with a rubbery grin” in The Stalker. And we look back on an Old Story from Mrs. Henry Wood.

Born in 1814, Ellen Price as she was then, took over the editorship of Argosy, a literary magazine, after the death of her husband. At a time when women writers were less common, Price wrote to feed her family, publishing her most famous novel East Lynne in 1861. In Issue 65, Brian Nellist explores her story Lease, The Pointsman.

“South Crabb was not much of a place at best. A part of it, Crabb Lane, branching off towards Massock’s brickfields, was crowded as a London street. Poor dwellings were huddled together, and children jostled each other on the door-steps. Squire Todhetley said he remembered if when it really was a lane, hedges on either side and a pond that was never dry.”

Mrs Henry Wood, Lease, The Pointsman


Shared Reading is at the heart of this quarter’s Interview, with Kate McDonnell, Head of Reading Excellence at The Reader, speaking to Jim Ledson and Andy Jones, pain medicine consultants at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital.

Kate, who contracted rheumatoid arthritis as a teenager, delivers a Shared Reading group at Broadgreen Hospital for people living with chronic pain. The group is part of a study by The Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS), which explores the impact Shared Reading can have for people experiencing chronic pain.

“My thoughts about Shared Reading and chronic pain have changed as I’ve become more involved. Initially I thought, yes, that would be a great benefit to people who are socially isolated and who will be able, through it, to have some sort of group dynamic and shared experience with others who have chronic pain. I realised quite quickly that there was an awful lot more going on.”

Jim Ledson, pain medicine consultant, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital


In this quarter’s essays, Kassia St Clair writes about the historical roots behind her new book The Secret Lives of Colour, published by John Murray, and Rebecca Reynolds explores our fascination with the homes of writers, so often transformed into museums. Reynold’s book Curiosities from the Cabinet is out now, with all profits going to the UK museum sector.

There are recommended reads shared by David Constantine, Matthew Hollis, Jan Marsh, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Charlotte Weber, Brian Nellist and Angela Macmillan. As well as regular features from Ian McMillanEnid Stubin and quizzes and crosswords to be enjoyed.


If you’re already a Reader Magazine subscriber you can expect Issue 65 to arrive on your doormat very soon. Otherwise you can buy this issue or any of our back issues on our website.

Issue 65 costs £6.95

1 Year Subscriptions start at £24.00

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