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Tom Donald Wakefield
(December 13, 1935 - March 23, 1996) U.K.

Tom Wakefield



Born in Cannock, Staffordshire, the son of a coal miner, author of fiction and non-fiction. Tom started at Cecil Street Infant School in Chadsmore, continued his education at Cannock Secondary Modern School, then went to Rugely Grammar School with a bursary, before going on to the University of London.

He became a school teacher, progressing in his career to become Headmaster of Downsview School in Hackney. His success as a writer, particularly the Isobel Quirk trilogy, enabled him to turn to writing full-time. Forties Child (1978) is an autobiograpical account of his childhood.

In 1961 he began a relationship with a Church Army captain who had become a social worker, known as 'K'. Their sometimes stormy relationship provided material for the story collection Drifters. From 1969 until he died, he lived, mostly with K, in a terrace house next to Arsenal football stadium and became well-known in the local community.

He was Arts Council of Great Britain Fellow in Creative Writing at Lancaster from 1982 to 1983, during which time he wrote Mates (1983) and the collection, Drifters (1984). These were to be his most open treatment of homosexuality and he is a sensitive writer on this topic. His writing is characterised by the exploration of emotion, particularly through ordinary, potentially socially excluded, characters, and an optimism that transcends this ordinariness into a vision of sympathy and hope.

After a diagnosis of acute angina he died from hepatitis C. The London home of Tom Wakefield has been converted into a retreat for artists and writers.



  • Trixie Trash, Star Ascending (1977)
  • Forties' Child (1978)
  • The Love Siege (1979)
  • Isobel Quirk in Orbit (1980)
  • Mates (1983)
  • Drifters (1984)
  • The Discus Throwers (1985)
  • The Variety Artistes (1987)
  • Lot's Wife (1989)
  • Secret Lives; Three Novellas (1991)
  • War Paint (1993)
  • The Scarlet Boy (completed by Patrick Gale in 1998)
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