• Convener of Left Book Club www.leftbookclub.com
• Developing the full-length centenary play The Man With the Gold which was performed at Oxford, 23 September 23 2016.
“Like the Brenton and Rattigan versions, Jan Woolf’s The Man With the Gold, uses techniques of split time, with the crucial difference that her chronology embraces the present day. This enables a kind of dialogue between then and now, from which the consequences of the past are all too starkly visible in the fractured map of the present. Much of this present is located in a museum. A custodian of memory it may be, but even this task is not performed without a degree of internal warfare. The presentation of the experts’ exhibits is a matter of such importance that they cannot achieve it without much highly entertaining, bickering, flirting and general emotional trading. Woolf literally knows her territory as she was writerin residence with the Great Arab Revolt Project (GARP), taking part in the excavation of blown up railway tracks, buttons from soldiers’ uniforms and cartridges from their guns. On the evidence of a rehearsed reading at the Cockpit Theatre, directed by Philip Wilson (Grimm Tales, at the Southbank’s Bargehouse), it speaks with power and passion about, inevitably, betrayal; not just betrayal of one person by another, or one nation by another, but of principals by their holders. Most dramatically, it conjures the person of Lawrence from the grave, giving him the chance to address us directly and debunk the myth industry which conscripted his ghost so lucratively. This is not an opportunity he can resist. Gold indeed.” Alan Franks
‘The play is terrific: witty, unusual, and timely and it’s going to be very watchable. Bringing Lawrence to life through the preparation for an exhibition is a riveting device. You feel he is being dug out of the desert sand in front of you to rise up like a scrap of desert mist. A wraith with a message who blasts his way into the present to deliver it.’ Heathcote Williams
First reading of The Man With the Gold was at the Cockpit Theatre, London, 22 January 2016. Reviewed at
Jan Woolf’s letter to the Guardian about Lawrence of Arabia and the rise of Isis, 10 April 2016:
Jan Woolf took part in a Radio 4 feature, aired on the PM show, Saturday 29 October 2016. Bob Walker interviewed curator Kevin Winter and archaeologist Neil Faulkner on the context of the exhibition of the Great Arab Revolt dig in Jordan – which is on show at the National Civil War Museum in Newark until spring 2017. Jan explained how participating in the dig, led to her play The Man With the Gold.
‘As a violated man, he knew the “unmooring” that violation can bring.’
Jan Woolf, the Guardian, 10 April 2016
Jan’s novella Untitled is being serialised weekly, as fifteen parts, at International Times. See below for synopsis and part one, published from 26 May 2016
T.E Lawrence, after Andy Warhol. Acrylic and gold painting on canvas. 4' x 3'. 2016. Used as set piece for Oxford reading 23/9/16.
Jan Woolf, writer
Fugues On A Funny Bone
Jan Woolf is the author of Fugues On A Funny Bone, a collection of linked stories inspired by a London pupil referral unit, with accompanying images by sculptor Richard Niman.
‘If that sounds worthy or didactic, it isn’t. The language is beautiful – Jan Woolf is a painter, and her love of imagery comes through in the writing… She has also worked with troubled children, and her empathy for them also comes through in the stories.’ Helen Smith
Jan has also read much of her own work, often with actors, most recently at the Freud Museum and the ICA, and held the first Harold Pinter Writers’ residency at the Hackney Empire, where her play Porn Crackers was directed by Ruth Boswell.
She is a critic, reviewer and editor, and has published various pieces of journalism, drawn from a life of political activism and teaching.
Jan edited many books for the Muswell Press, and ran ‘Off the Shelf’ at Blacks club Soho from 2011- 2014 – a writer’' project for the Writers Guild of Great Britain, of which she is an active member.
‘Writing can be a lightning conductor; you’ve seen this or that – thought the other, so what do you do with it? Decide on its form and then craft it. I’ve been taught by some very good people…’
…not least by kids from the Stockwell Park Estate and Lambeth’s Summer University, where Jan taught the Arts Award in creative writing as director of Rootball Writers. She is also a long time campaigner and accomplished events producer. As a beneficiary of the British welfare state, she is passionate about the right for all to develop educationally and culturally, and she coordinated the successful Free For All Museums campaign in 1998.
‘Jan Woolf has a sexy, vigorous imagination and the art to realise all her good ideas. I love her writing.’ Edmund White