Chrissie Glazebrook: Writer with a slapstick, acid wit

Christine Ann Wright, writer: born Lichfield, Staffordshire 19 March 1945; married Terry Glazebrook (marriage dissolved); died Scarborough, North Yorkshire 7 December 2007

In the mid-1990s Chrissie Glazebrook was part of a women novelists' writing group in the North- east, alongside Julia Darling, Debbie Taylor, Penny Sumner, Andrea Badenoch, Margaret Wilkinson and me. At these meetings extracts of Glazebrook's great comic novel were read and discussed, and it was no surprise when the finished product was published by Random House, after a serious bidding war. It had long been her ambition to write a successful, caustic, funny novel: The Madolescents (2001) was it.

Set on Tyneside, it describes the bizarre world of Rowena Vincent, an anarchic 16-year-old trainee mortician with a passion for Baileys and chips. Attempting to free herself of her weak mother and disgusting stepfather, Rowena ends up being part of a teenage therapy group, which she labels the "madolescents". The book was a huge success. Described by reviewers as, "hilarious", "brutally funny", "a cult classic" and "irresistible", it was also a big hit with teenage audiences. Just 17 magazine voted it book of the month.

Born in 1945 and adopted at eight weeks old by Mary and Ernest Wright, who brought her up in the Black Country alongside her adoptive sister, Mary, Chrissie later discovered that her natural parents were an American soldier and an Irish woman, participating in what Chrissie referred to as a "drunken GI blunder".

After Cannock Grammar School in Staffordshire, she trained as a secretary but at 17 did a runner to Cornwall where she joined a hippie colony in St Ives. Returned home by the police after a drugs bust, Chrissie's punishment was enforced factory labour. Secretarial work followed and in the late 1960s she married Terry Glazebrook and moved to Scarborough. Here she had several jobs including PA for the Managing Director at Flamingo Land theme park. After her divorce a few years later she managed a vegetarian restaurant and wholefood shop before venturing into theatre administration.

Between 1982 and 1990 she worked freelance, presenting a show on BBC Radio York, writing for Jackie magazine, and producing her first book, the satirical Pocket Guide to Men (1986). In 1989 she produced a 13-part cookery series called Flavour of the Month for Tyne Tees Television, quite a feat for a woman who claimed to be missing the "domestic gene".

I met her in 1990 when she took a temporary secretarial post with Northern Arts (now Arts Council North East), becoming Administrator for Published and Broadcast Arts the following year. At the time I was doing a short Literature contract with the regional arts board, based in the same office space as Chrissie and the Literature Officer, Jenny Attala. One male executive officer dubbed us "the three witches" and both Chrissie and I were reprimanded for singing in the corridors.

Humour came naturally to Glazebrook but her wit, a mixture of seaside-postcard slapstick and acid shock tactics was not to everyone's taste; had she been male, reactions might have been different. She was a talented writer and never dull company, often gleefully playing devil's advocate if anyone began pontificating too solemnly.

Outwardly confident, like many other writers Glazebrook had to contend with demons. Hers came in the form of depression, which she battled the whole time I knew her. And although she could appear brash to some, she was often self-deprecating. When I approached her to submit a story for an anthology of northern writing I was editing for Iron Press (Biting Back, 2001), her first reaction was, "You don't want me in that, it will bring the tone down."

Not convinced a sequel to The Madolescents was the next best step for her, and being a perfectionist, she was disappointed with her second novel, The Blue Spark Sisters (2003), written in the midst of severe bouts of depression.

Glazebrook was centrally involved in establishing the ProudWORDS gay and lesbian literature festival, and she was also an inspiring tutor on the MA in Creative Writing at Northumbria University, a course she herself had graduated from in 1989, winning the Waterstone's Prize for Prose. Diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, she lived alone in her house on the outskirts of Newcastle until the illness escalated, when she moved to a wonderful flat provided by Denise, her devoted niece, overlooking Scarborough's south bay.

There was so much writing left for Chrissie Glazebrook to do, so much talent unexcavated; even the week before her death, trapped in the hospice bed, her wicked humour still shone through.

Kitty Fitzgerald

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy