Out of the Margins

15 SEPTEMBER 2023 - 06 OCTOBER 2023
Fen 1. Cover 2. Annotations 3. Headshot
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25. Caryl Churchill

Fen

Fen 
Signed and annotated 
First edition paperback 
20.9 x 15 cm 
London: Methuen, 1983

ESTIMATE


£1,000 - 10,000

This auction has now ended

Out of the Margins (25/55)

Notes


This is a delicate, slim first edition paperback, 1983, with annotations on almost every page in black ink hand-penned by the epic, most celebrated of playwrights, and signed by her too, bearing unique insights into the research and development of the play in the Fenland town, Upwell, where "something darker and wilder lurks in its witchy psychic landscape" (Lyn Gardner). 

Although it may not be her most well-known play, Fen was praised by the critics. In the story, laborers are bound to the land. The women pick out stones from the fields, dig up potatoes, and bag onions. Their lives are determined by the farmers and faceless conglomerates who buy up the land, economic transactions which keep the villagers in poverty. One woman, Val, can no longer bear the dreary life she is in. She finds happiness with Frank, and the two leave their respective spouses to be with each other. But her new romance is not all Val hoped for and bleakness and the history of the fens permeates the villagers’ lives, and the ghosts of the past haunt their hopes for the future. 

Caryl Churchill notes that this play was sold out before it was even written. It was created with pioneering theatre company Joint Stock, and the playwright gives us a fascinating insight into the theatre-making and research behind the text, with quotes from Churchill’s personal notebooks and references to the political and social context of the time. This is a unique chance to hear about the real people behind the characters, the original quotes behind the lines, and why Churchill included a poem by Rilke. 

Don't be fooled by the slight-ness of this object; this is a solid contribution to Caryl Churchill scholarship and theatre history.

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