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Susan Hill, CBE (born 5 February 1942) is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror and I’m the King of the Castle for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature.
Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Her home town was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and in some short stories like Cockles and Mussels.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr’s Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill, she took A levels in English, French, History, and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King’s College London. By this time, she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure, which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at the university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a “schoolgirl”.
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I’m the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of the Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.
Hill’s novels are written in a descriptive gothic style, especially her ghost story The Woman in Black, which was published in 1983. She has expressed an interest in the traditional English ghost story, which relies on suspense and atmosphere to create its impact, similar to the classic ghost stories by Montague Rhodes James and Daphne du Maurier.The novel was turned into a play in 1987 and continues to run in the West End of London, joining the group of plays that have run for over twenty years. It was also made into a television film in 1989, and a film by Hammer Film Productions in 2012. She wrote another ghost story with similar ingredients, The Mist in the Mirror in 1992, and a sequel to du Maurier’s Rebecca entitled Mrs. De Winter in 1993.
In 2004, Hill began a series of crime novels featuring detective Simon Serrailler, entitled The Various Haunts of Men (2004). This was followed by The Pure in Heart (2005), The Risk of Darkness (2006), The Vows of Silence (2009), Shadows in the Street (2010), The Betrayal of Trust (2011), A Question of Identity (2013), The Soul of Discretion (2014) and A Breach of Security, a short story (2014) and Hero, another short story (2016). One of Hill’s plays, On the Face of It, has been included in the Indian school curriculum for the 12th grade. Her ninth book in the Simon Serrailler series, The Comforts of Home, was published in October 2018.The tenth book in the Simon Serrailler series, The Benefit of Hindsight, will be published in October 2019.
Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK Announces New Cast Ahead of 30th Anniversary
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
AT THE FORTUNE THEATRE
ANNOUNCES NEW CAST AHEAD OF 30th ANNIVERSARY
STUART FOX TO STAR AS
MATTHEW SPENCER TO STAR AS
As Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK at The Fortune Theatre, London prepares to celebrate its 30thAnniversary in the West End in June 2019, PW Productions are delighted to announce that from Tuesday 19 March 2019 the show will star Stuart Fox as ‘Arthur Kipps’ and Matthew Spencer as ‘The Actor’.
Having previously played the role of ‘Arthur Kipps’ at the Fortune Theatre and during the UK Tour, Stuart Foxreturns to “The Woman in Black”. His other West End credits include “Woman in Mind” at the Vaudeville theatre, “The Normal Heart” at the Royal Court, and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” at the Fortune Theatre. His other theatre credits include “Ten Times Table”, “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” and “Educating Rita” all at the The Mill at Sonning, and “Springs Eternal”, “The Man Who Pays the Piper”, “The Stepmother”, “Sauce for the Goose”, “Three Farces” and “Winter” all at the Orange Tree Theatre and “After the Ball” at Theatre Upstairs Highgate.
Matthew Spencer has played the role of ‘The Actor’ at The Fortune Theatre and during the UK Tour of “The Woman in Black”. His other West End credits include “Amadeus” at the National Theatre, “1984” and the Almeida and Playhouse Theatre, and “War Horse” at the New London Theatre. His other theatre credits include “The Busy Body” at the Southwark Playhouse, “Bent” at the Trafalgar Studios, and “Sleuth” and “Tartuffe” at the Watermill Theatre and UK Tour.
In June this year THE WOMAN IN BLACK will celebrate its 30th Anniversary in London’s West End. Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s best-selling novel tells the story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over his family by the spectre of a ‘Woman in Black’. He engages a young actor to help him tell his story and exorcise the fear that grips his soul. It begins innocently enough, but as they delve further into his darkest memories, they find themselves caught up in a world of eerie marshes and moaning winds. The borders between make-believe and reality begin to blur and the flesh begins creep.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK is directed by Robin Herford, with designs by Michael Holt and lighting by Kevin Sleep.