Polly Clark was born in Toronto, Canada in 1968 and was brought up in Cumbria, Lancashire and the Borders of Scotland.
She has pursued a number of careers including zoo-keeping at Edinburgh Zoo and teaching English in Hungary. In 1997 she won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry, and her first collection, Kiss (2000) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her second collection, Take Me With You (2005) was a Poetry Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her collection Farewell My Lovely was published in 2009.
In 2004 she was selected as one of Mslexia magazine’s ten best poets to emerge in the last decade. For three years, she was Poet in Residence for the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, a project which was shortlisted in the Arts and Business Awards 2002, and in 2004 she co-ordinated and presented a tour round the south east of England with the Pulitzer-winning author Richard Ford.
Clark’s unpublished memoir Thank You So Much For Writing won the 2014 Tony Lothian Prize. It was a winner in a 2012 national competition to find Scotland’s best new nonfiction. She produces the Literature Programme for Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre, where she programmes a range of writers and events, and currently lives in Helensburgh.
Polly Clark is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Books by Polly
Riverrun, May 2019
A mesmerising literary novel set between the UK and Siberia about mothers, daughters and the wild side of female nature. Set across two continents, Tiger is a sweeping story of survival and redeeming love that plunges the reader into one of the world’s last wildernesses with blistering authenticity.
Frieda is a primatologist, sensitive and solitary until a violent attack shatters her ordered world. In her new role as a zookeeper, she confronts a very different ward: an injured wild tiger. Deep in the Siberian taiga, Tomas, a Russian conservationist, fears that the natural order has toppled. The king tiger has been killed by poachers and a spectacular tigress now patrols his vast territory as her own. In a winter of treacherous competition, the path of the tigress and her cub crosses with an Udeghe huntress and her daughter. Vengeance must follow, and the fates of both tigers and people are transformed. Learning of her tiger’s past offers Frieda the chance of freedom. Faced with the savage forces of nature, she must trust to her instinct and, like the tiger, find a way to live in the world.
Quercus, March 2017
It’s early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she’s excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.
Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected – rightly – of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.
The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both. Echoing the depths of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger’s Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism – the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination.
Praise for Larchfield
Winner of the MsLexia Prize
Larchfield is that rarest of rare first novels – a book that actually achieves its great ambition. I found it so immensely readable; it’s brainy, verbally acute and knowing, with an ingenious literary historical premise that it impressively (and artfully) carries off right in front of your eyes. It’s work of considerable talent. –Richard Ford
This is a mysterious, wondrous, captivating book. –Louis de Bernieres
A passionate, lyrical, surprising debut. –John Boyne, Irish Times
A funny, poised, affecting meditation on the healing power of poetry…an affecting debut novel. –The Times
Larchfield is that rare first novel that utterly achieves its great ambition. I found it so immensely readable; it’s brainy, verbally acute and knowing, with an ingenious literary historical premise that it impressively (and artfully) carries off right in front of your eyes. It’s work of considerable talent. –Richard Ford