Arvon at Home: Craft of Writing with Armistead Maupin and Patrick Gale

What It Takes to Break New Ground

Tuesday May 25th 2021, 7:00PM BST


Arvon’s Craft of Writing sessions are invigorating deep dives into the creative processes of some of the finest writers at work today. Over the course of 80 minutes, they engage in expansive conversations about different facets of their craft: how they get their ideas; how they develop characters or build stories; or, more simply, how they make sentences. Each live session includes two audience Q&As.

Between them, these two extraordinary, much-loved and award-winning writers have published over 40 books. They are also great friends and admirers of each other’s work. As Patrick Gale wrote, over 20 years ago, in a biography simply titled Armistead Maupin: “Armistead Maupin has done more than any other writer this century to help straight readers love gay people, to help gay readers love straight ones, to make anyone who is different feel good about themselves and to make an extraordinary number of otherwise rational people suddenly yearn to live in an imaginary rooming house in San Francisco, so they could become a cherished intimate of its all-wise pot-growing, transsexual landlady.” Join us for this very special evening to hear Armistead and Patrick explore their writing process, their books, their influences and inspirations and their shared commitment to breaking new artistic ground.

Armistead Maupin’s career as a fiction writer was launched when his Tales of the City was published as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976–77 and then as a book in 1978. The story, set in San Francisco, focuses on three characters—Mary Ann Singleton, a naive young woman from Cleveland, Ohio; Michael (“Mouse”) Tolliver, her homosexual friend; and their motherly landlady, Anna Madrigal, a transgender woman. The author’s compassion for his characters and his lively humorous style made Tales of the City a cult favourite. Five popular sequels followed: More Tales of the City (1980), Further Tales of the City (1982), Babycakes (1984), Significant Others (1987), and Sure of You (1989), all but the last of which were initially serialized in San Francisco newspapers. Maupin chronicled the later vicissitudes and triumphs of his characters in Michael Tolliver Lives (2007), Mary Ann in Autumn (2010), and The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014). Although the tone of the books is generally lighthearted, throughout the series characters confront serious issues, including loneliness, parenthood, the loss of a partner to AIDS, cancer, and aging.

Patrick Gale is the author of sixteen novels and many short stories. He is a keen cellist, gardener and artistic director of the North Cornwall Book Festival. He lives with his husband, the farmer and sculptor, Aidan Hicks, on their farm at the far west of Cornwall. In addition to his latest, Take Nothing With You, which was his fourth Sunday Times bestseller, his novels include Rough Music (2000), Notes From an Exhibition (2007), A Perfectly Good Man (2012) and A Place Called Winter (2015). In 2017 his Man in an Orange Shirt was screened by BBC2 as part of the Gay Britannia season and won the International Emmy for best miniseries. His story of schoolgirl vampirism, A Slight Chill, has just been filmed. He’s working on a novel based on the lives of Charles Causley and his mother, recently wrote a screenplay of Rose Tremain’s The Housekeeper and is writing a television adaptation of A Place Called Winter.

Cost: £20 (concessions £10)




See all Courses & Retreats