Telling Tales: Kit de Waal

New to 4 Extra

Tuesday 30 July



BBC Radio 4 Extra celebrates the very best in storytelling, showcasing different voices, and different genres, from the BBC archives and beyond. This week’s guest is Kit de Waal.

After a career in criminal and family law, Kit De Waal started writing in her mid-40s and was 51 when she finally went to university, completing an MA in Creative Writing.

My Name Is Leon, her debut novel, draws on Kit’s mixed race, working-class background and the insights she gained into adoption and the care system. After a six-way auction between publishers, Kit signed a book deal, and My Name Is Leon became an international bestseller in 2016.

Kit has just published her third novel, Becoming Dinah, her first foray into young adult fiction and the debut for a new publishing imprint focused on female voices. It is a coming-of-age tale, and a re-imagining of the American classic Moby Dick, in which a female character comes to the fore.

Whilst her own story is of one of extraordinary success, Kit began to speak up about the lack of opportunity for working-class writers and the need for a change in the stories appearing on bookshelves.

Kit also acted upon what she saw, setting up a creative writing scholarship for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and compiling an anthology of working-class writers, titled Common People.

This episode features a short story from 2014, titled The Beautiful Thing, as well as a 2017 documentary for Radio 4 which asks Where Are All The Working Class Writers?

  • Producer: Ali Gardiner
  • Made for Radio 4 Extra

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