skip this menu
Ellen Phethean

Ellen Phethean runs Diamond Twig Press, which she founded with Julia Darling. She also works as a poet, playwright and editor.

Ellen began performing her poetry and plays on radio and stage with The Poetry Virgins, a women's performance poetry group. Her work appears in Sauce (Bloodaxe Books).


Breath - the Red Squirrel edition

Her first full collection, Breath, was published by Flambard Press, and reissued by Red Squirrel Press. It was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award, 2009. She was writer in residence for Seven Stories, The Centre for The Children's Book, Ouseburn, and Writing On the Wall project. This inspired Wall, a novel in poems, telling the story of troubled teenager Kylie, and published by Smokestack Books in February 2007: a poem from Wall, Down the Dene, was our March 2007 Poem of the Month. Ellen completed a second novel in similar form, Hom, dealing with a teenaged lad from the West End of Newcastle, and published it as an online blog: Hom is available to read here.

In August 2009 she was commissioned by Gala Theatre, Durham to write a new play for the Mystery Cycle, performed in May 2010. Along with her Musician/rapper son Fred, she co-wrote Cain and Abel in Hiphop style; her son Johnny composed all the music.


Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman

Her second collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman published in May 2014, by Red Squirrel, who also reprinted Breath. Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman was picked by New Writing North for their Read Regional promotion 2015.

Ellen's film, Recollection was shown in 'The Poetics of the Archive: Creative and Community Engagement with the Bloodaxe Archive' as part of the Newcastle Poetry Festival; watch it online.

Ren and the Blue Hands

Ren and the Blue Hands, a novel for young adults inspired by real events but set in the fictional Calico Isles of the 16th century, was published in November 2016 by Postbox Press, an imprint of Red Squirrel Press. The main character is a Dyer trained to be a ladies' maid, where she finds her loyalties torn and love is a trap. On a wider level, it explores political themes of power and espionage as factions struggle to control the winds of change.

An early draft of Ren and the Blue Hands was longlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2012; Ellen was awarded a Hosking Houses Trust residency in Spring 2016 to allow her to work on the dinal version. The novel has turned into a trilogy, and Ellen hopes the two further books will find a home in the future.

She also teaches Writing for Children to adults and runs workshops. Ellen writes the Diamond Twig Diary and likes to keep everyone waiting for it.


Ellen Phethean: Writing CV


Photo © Hogg Photography.