Alison Fell Biography
(1944– ), The Grey Dancer, Every Move You Make, Kisses for Mayakovsky, The Bad Box
Scottish novelist and poet, born in Dumfries, Scotland; she trained as a sculptor in Edinburgh, and moved to London in 1970. Involved for several years with the women's movement, she was a member of the Spare Rib Collective. Her first published work was a novel for children, The Grey Dancer (1981). Her first adult novel, Every Move You Make (1984), was in the realist mode of confessional feminism. Her prize-winning collection of poems, Kisses for Mayakovsky, appeared in the same year. Fell's second novel, The Bad Box (1987), characteristically intertwines myth and realism; it deals with the coming-of-age sexual and creative fantasies of a Scottish teenager.
In the 1990s Fell emerged as one of the women, such as Michèle Roberts and Marina Warner, deliberately expanding the frontiers of the British novel. In Mer de Glace (1991) Fell is at her most compelling. Juxtaposing masculine and feminine perspectives, the novel explores an emotional triangle, in which the protagonists are an Irish writer, her American mountain-climbing lover, and the latter's wife. This complex, passionate account is framed in Alpine imagery and mythical allusions. The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro (1994), though it presents Fell's familiar preoccupations with desire and dreams, is a stylistic departure: it is recounted in the manner of a medieval Japanese chronicle, and like the Arabian Nights tells many tales, delicate, cruel, and erotic, within the framework of its principal story. Here Fell indulges her gift for humour, pastiche, and fable, and lends her poet's skills to a celebration of Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) verse forms.