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Phil Parker

Phil spent over 30 years of his life teaching various English A-levels – alongside pastoral and management responsibilities – in sixth-form colleges, mostly in Stockport, until he retired in 2016. With time at last to spend on his own writing, he joined Sheffield u3a’s ‘Story Writers’ group in 2017, and has been group co-ordinator since the start of 2022. He also writes a twice-weekly music blog about composers and pieces of classical music, and reviews professional orchestral and chamber music concerts given here in Sheffield for the international classical music website Bachtrack.

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Girl with Fan is a collection of short stories ranging from the dying days of Roman rule in Britain, via 14th century Norfolk after the Black Death, 19th century artistic Paris and turn of the 20th century Russia, to the Britain of today. Twenty stories explore themes of identity, memory, shame, gender conflict, creativity, faith and the inescapable force, both for good and ill, of love. 

    The title story, Girl with Fan, is a fictional take on the back story behind a sequence of paintings by Renoir, as told from the perspective of Alphonsine Fournaise, the sitter. The constraints of growing up in a small Norfolk village are explored in the prize-winning story Ayesha. In Interludes a chance encounter on a train journey leads David to review his past, while making a shocking discovery about the present. A daughter discovers animal corpses in her ageing mother’s freezer in In the Deep Freeze. Remember Me describes how a gentleman’s companion helps his actor lover to stage one last performance. The final story, The Night Shift, explores the dilemmas of a young couple over what to wear on their wedding night.

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