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Nell Dunn (Nell Mary Dunn) Biography

(1936– ), (Nell Mary Dunn), Up the Junction, Poor Cow, The Incurable, I Want

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) Biography to Dutch

British novelist and dramatist, born in London, and educated at a convent school. Her collection of realistic interlinked short stories, Up the Junction (1963), and her novel, Poor Cow (1967), were considered sensational at the time. Both are about the constrained lives of independent-minded working-class women in London. The novel focuses on Joy, and her relationship with her husband, a professional thief, her lover (both of whom successively end up in prison), and her little son. Dunn co-authored the film version with director Ken Loach. her other novels explore further aspects of women's lives, and include The Incurable (1971), I Want (1972; with Adrian Henri), Tear His Head off His Shoulders (1974), and The Only Child (1978). Her play Steaming (1981), set in a council bath threatened with closure, also caused a sensation; the protagonists were all women, both working-class and middle-class, frequently (but quite naturally) in various states of undress. The play was acclaimed as an authentic slice of life, and an effective political protest. Another play, The Little Heroine (1988), portrays a heroin addict who successfully kicks the habit. Grandmothers Talking to Nell Dunn (1991) is a collection of interviews.

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