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Sheila MacLeod
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Sheila MacLeod


Official Page

Summary - Home Page


Scottish author now living in London who won many literary awards like Book of the Year of the New York Times Book Review.

Sheila MacLeod was born in the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. She studied at Wycombe Abbey School, Bucks., then at Somerville College, Oxford, where she obtained a BA (Hons) Second Class in English (1961) and an MA in English (1993).

She went to Birkbeck College, University of London, where she obtained a BA First Class in French (1996) and was also a joint winner of the Marjorie Gould Prize for the best results of the year.

In 1999 she obtained a MA Romance Languages (French) with Distinction at Birkbeck College (University of London), and she is presently studying for a PhD in French Literature at the same college. The topic: Three French Writers Photographers after Roland Barthes (Claude Simon, Denis Roche and Jean Baudrillard). It explores the relationship between writing and photography.

She has published many books and earned many impressive awards.

The Moving Accident published by Faber & Faber (1968) and The Snow-White Soliloquies published by Secker & Warburg (1970) both earned her the Scottish Arts Council Publication Award.

Circuit-Breaker published by Bodley Head (1977) was a Runner-up for the Guardian Fiction Prize.

The Art of Starvation, Virago (1981) (Autobiography/Psychology), is her most successful book so far and was a runner-up for Elle Readers’ Prize and was the first winner of the MIND Prize. The book also was the New York Times Book Review: Book of the Year [1982].

Her second most successful book is Axioms, published by Quartet (1984), and received huge coverage in newspapers and magazines world wide.

Other novels include Letters from the Portuguese (Secker & Warburg, 1971), Xanthe and the Robots (Bodley Head, 1976) and a Literary Criticism: Lawrence’s Men and Women (Heinemann, 1985).

She wrote other essays: "A Fairy Story" in Very Heaven: Looking Back at the Sixties (Virago, 1988), "Drunken Drowning" in A Certain Age (Virago, 1993), "It is Margaret You Mourn For" in On the Death of a Parent (Virago, 1994) and again "The Art of Starvation" in Mind Readings: Writers’ Journeys through Mental States (MIND/Minerva, 1996).

As a journalist, she was a regular reviewer of fiction for the London Evening Standard 1982-8, and of educational TV, film, theatre and books for The Times Educational Supplement, 1981-91.

She has been a contributor to The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Literary Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Times Educational Supplement, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Journal, Honey and Good Housekeeping.

She was the Editor of Writers’ Newsletter, the magazine of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

In television she wrote the plays: They Put You Where You Are (with Paul Jones from Manfred Mann), BBC 2, 1965, and God Speed Co-operation, BBC 2, 1985.

She was a writer in Residence at the Napsbury Psychiatric Hospital, St Alban’s, England, 1987.


Summary - Home Page

Bibliography of Sheila MacLeod

SHEILA MACLEOD was born in the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. After reading English Literature at Oxford University, she worked for a time at the Clarendon Press, and in 1963 married a pop singer. Some of her short stories appeared in Faber's Introduction 2 in 1963, and she wrote a play for BBC television in 1965. From 1969-78 she wrote five novels - The Moving Accident, The Snow-White Soliloquies, Letters From The Portuguese, Xanthe And The Robots, Circuit-Breaker (which was runner-up for the Guardian Fiction Prize). She now lives in London.

Short Stories

Three short stories in Introduction 2, Faber & Faber, 1963.

Summary - Home Page

Autobiography / Psychology


The Art of Starvation, Virago, 1981. (Winner MIND Prize (1981), New York Times Book Review Book of the Year [1982], runner-up Elle Readers’ Prize(1982)).

The Art of starvation is the story of her personal confrontation with anorexia nervosa, based on the diaries she kept at the time. Combining these with her highly intelligent and original assessments of the literature on the subject, Sheila MacLeod presents a remarkable picture of an illness which is becoming alarmingly common (one in every two hundred adolescent girls is at this moment starving herself, possibly to death). But her book does much more. It confronts the deeper issues involved in this vexed subject - problems of adolescence and identity, power and powerlessness, sexuality, relationships with parents, growing up female in our society. Sheila MacLeod has given us important new insights into anorexia as an illness and a state of mind.

Summary - Home Page




The Snow-White Soliloquies, Secker & Warburg, 1970. (Scottish Arts Council Publication Award)


The Moving Accident, Faber & Faber, 1968. (Scottish Arts Council Publication Award)

The Moving Accident, Sheila MacLeod's first novel, is the story of a pop singer's wife for whom the gay, swinging life subsists only in fantasy. Jason Friend is public property: Una can rarely go out with him because the fans mustn't know that he is married. If she does, no one pays any attention to her in the excitement that his presence produces. As Una becomes more and more isolated, her imagination becomes increasingly violent until, at times, she seems to be losing her grasp of reality. Sheila MacLeod describes with extraordinary clarity her heroine's emotional confusion as she hovers between a fantasy of perfect happiness such as the public might dream up for her and a personal terror of complete hopelessness. Una Friend is a contemporary heroine portrayed with quite exceptional intellectual honesty and imagination.


Letters from the Portuguese, Secker & Warburg, 1971.


Xanthe and the Robots, Bodley Head, 1976.


Axioms, Quartet, 1984.

After sixteen years of marriage Claudia Hughes finally decides to divorce her husband, a once-famous pop star, whose infidelities and emotional dishonesty have become unbearable. He leaves to live with his latest mistress while Claudia stays with their two adolescent children, Josh and Matilda, trying to find the courage to live alone. As she tries to outgrow her compulsion to conciliate and comfort, her children have to come to terms with their father's absence and, worse, his apparent lack of concern for them. Josh reacts violently, while Matilda takes it out on herself. Her story, which is skilfully interwoven with that of her mother, shows the extent of her unhappiness. Frank and often shocking, Matilda's reflections show how little mother and daughter can communicate and yet how much they share in their struggle to establish their own identity as individuals, not simply as 'wife' and 'daughter'. Claudia and Matilda go through many bitter experiences and yet in the end, emerge with a deeper understanding of what it is to be a woman, which enables them to cope with them- selves and with the world. Axioms is a powerfully written novel which explores the battles all women have to fight - and win. Sheila MacLeod, prize-winning author of The Art of Starvation, has written an angry, irrefutable and unforgettable novel of broken marriages and what it feels like to be left holding pieces.


Circuit-Breaker, Bodley Head, 1977. (Runner-up, Guardian Fiction Prize)

Summary - Home Page

Literary Criticism


Lawrence’s Men and Women, Heinemann, 1985.

Following Kate Millet's devastating attack on him in Sexual Politics, D. H. Lawrence's reputation amongst many women has been that of misogynist bigot. This new feminist study of one of England's greatest twentieth-century novelists, whilst not flinching from the examination of some of his more repugnant notions, reaffirms Lawrence as a courageous and honest explorer of the relations between men and women. For all his phallic mysticism, Lawrence remained more at home in the world of women, and more perceptive about women's problems - when he could forgive them - than about a masculine world to which he remained an outsider.

Summary - Home Page


"A Fairy Story" in Very Heaven: Looking Back at the Sixties, Virago, 1988.

"Drunken Drowning" in A Certain Age, Virago, 1993.

"It is Margaret You Mourn For" in On the Death of a Parent, Virago, 1994.

"The Art of Starvation" in Mind Readings: Writers’ Journeys through Mental States, MIND/Minerva, 1996.

Summary - Home Page


Regular reviewer of fiction for The Evening Standard (London) 1982-8.

Regular reviewer of educational TV, film, theatre and books for The Times Educational Supplement, 1981-91.

Contributor to The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Literary Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Times Educational Supplement, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Journal, Honey, Good Housekeeping.

Presently Editor Writers’ Newsletter, the magazine of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Summary - Home Page

Television / Plays

They Put You Where You Are (with Paul Jones), BBC 2, 1965.

God Speed Co-operation, BBC 2, 1985.

Main Contact: Roland Michel Tremblay

Tel. : +44 (0)20 8847 5586 (London, UK)
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Sites :
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