Liz Lochhead

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Liz Lochhead (born 26 December 1947) is a Scottish poet and dramatist.[1]


Lochhead was born in Motherwell and raised in Newarthill, North Lanarkshire,[2] and later attended Glasgow School of Art. She lectured in fine arts for eight years before becoming a professional writer.

In the early 1970s, Lochhead joined Philip Hobsbaum's writers' group, a crucible of creative activity – other members were Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, Tom Leonard, Aonghas MacNeacail and Jeff Torrington.[3] Her plays include Blood and Ice, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (1987), Perfect Days (2000) and a highly acclaimed adaptation into Scots of Molière's Tartuffe (1985). She adapted the medieval texts of the York Mystery Plays, performed by a largely amateur cast at York Theatre Royal in 1992 and 1996.[4] Her adaptation of Euripides' Medea won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award in 2001. Her plays have been performed on BBC Radio 4: Blood and Ice (11 June 1990), The Perfect Days (16 May 1999), Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (11 February 2001) and The Stanley Baxter Playhouse: Mortal Memories (26 June 2006). Her adaptation of Helen Simpson's short story Burns and the Bankers was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Burns Night, 25 January 2012.[5] Like her work for theatre, her poetry is alive with vigorous speech idioms; collections include Memo For Spring (1972), True Confessions and New Clichés (1985), Bagpipe Muzak (1991) and Dreaming Frankenstein: and Collected Poems (1984). She has collaborated with Dundee singer-songwriter Michael Marra to whom she dedicated the poem 'Ira and George'.[6]

In 2005,[7] Lochhead became the Poet Laureate for Glasgow, a position she held until stepping down in 2011,[8] when she was named as the second Scots Makar, or national poet, succeeding Edwin Morgan who had died the previous year.[9] She is currently the Honorary President of the Caledonian Cultural Fellows at Glasgow Caledonian University.[10]

She was writer in residence at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 1980.[11]

She is a vocal supporter of Scottish independence, having performed with pro-independence group National Collective[12] and written in The Guardian that Robert Burns would have voted for independence.[13]

Lochhead provided guest vocals on the track 'Trouble is Not a Place' from the 2014 EP The Bird That Never Flew by Glasweigan experimental hip hop group Hector Bizerk.[14]

Published works

  • 2012: Liz Lochhead: Five Plays. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2010: Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2009: Blood and Ice. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2009: Educating Agnes. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2006: Good Things. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2003: The Colour of Black and White. Polygon.
  • 2003: Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems, 1967–84. Polygon.
  • 2003: Thebans. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2003: True Confessions: And New Cliches. Polygon.
  • 2002: Misery Guts. Nick Hern Books.
  • 2001: Cuba (with Gina Moxley). Faber & Faber.
  • 2000: Medea. Nick Hern Books.
  • 1999: Bagpipe Muzak. Penguin Books.
  • 1999: Perfect Days. Nick Hern Books.
  • 1978: Islands. Print Studio Press.
  • 1972: Memo For Spring. Reprographia.

Radio plays

Radio Plays adapted by Liz Lochhead
Date first broadcast Play Director Cast Synopsis
25 January 2012 Burns and the Bankers[15] Amber Barnfather Sophie Thompson, John Sessions, Greg Wise, Peter Forbes, David McKay, Angela Darcy, Siobhan Redmond, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Maynard Eziashi Helen Simpson's satirical and poignant short story, dramatised for radio by Liz Lochhead. Nicola Beaumont (English, partner in a law firm, mother of four) reluctantly sits down to a long-winded corporate Burns Supper. At first impatient with the whisky-fuelled pomposity around her, Nicola finds herself surprisingly moved as the traditional rituals of a Burns Night unfold. What she comes to learn about the eighteenth-century Scots poet brings new self-knowledge and helps her through the night's violent emotions and climactic events. BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Drama


External links