Our Stories: Stella Duffy OBE

Written by Emma Bell.

Stella Duffy black and white webStella Duffy’s work as an artist shares her experiences of a childhood in New Zealand with a worldwide audience of her followers. As a woman of various talents, she wears many hats, and earlier this year her work as a writer, theatremaker, founder and co-director of the Fun Palaces Campaign was recognised when she was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the arts.

Fun Palaces was founded in 2013 as an ongoing campaign for promoting culture at the heart of every community. These are spaces for creativity and social cohesion that are locally-led and community-driven. In 2016 there were 292 Fun Palaces across the world; in the UK, Ireland, Norway, France, Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, with 124,000 people taking part.

In addition to her work with the Fun Palaces campaign, she is an award-winning writer with over fifty-five short stories, ten plays, and fourteen novels published in fifteen languages. Her latest book, London Lies Beneath, has received rave reviews from the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the Irish Times and the Sunday Mirror.

A two-time winner of both Stonewall Writer of the Year and the CWA Short Story Dagger, she has also adapted her novel State of Happiness for a feature film, and HBO have optioned her Theodora novels for television.

Stella is currently working to complete a crime novel originally started by New Zealand crime writer and theatre director Ngaio Marsh in the 1940s. The release of the book in May 2018 will promote Marsh’s writing work, which has been forgotten by many New Zealanders, while her name as a theatre director lives on. Marsh’s crime novels written between the 1930s and 1980s were popular worldwide and earned her a place in history as one of the four ‘Queens of Crime,’ alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Margery Allingham.

Stella draws upon her childhood in Tokoroa as inspiration for her writing and theatre work, and especially in her passion for community engagement as exemplified by Fun Palaces. She is a practising Buddhist and lives in Lambeth with her wife, playwright Shelley Silas. She writes a regular blog Not Writing But Blogging, which discusses writing, theatre, Fun Palaces and LGBT issues. She is an occasional guest contributor to NZ online site Public Address.

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