Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

A wonderful review of my new book!

March 19th, 2018

 John Pole, the fine songwriter, puppeteer and oral storyteller has just written a review of my new book in Facts & Fiction. I’m  so delighted with it that I thought I might share part of it here. After a wonderfully supportive introduction he writes:

“She has written a lot about traditional stories and telling and has also published a book of her own personal stories (A Long Run in Short Shorts, Storyworks Press, 2016).

“Now here is something very different – a collection of pieces she calls ‘short fictional stories’, all original and a couple personal. Many echo the themes and structure of traditional tales but every one of them stands by itself and the whole collection has kaleidoscopic variety and tremendous energy. It is full of vivid imagery, acute observation and gentle – sometimes self-mocking – wit.

“The pieces are listed in alphabetical order but you should start with the title ‘story’ ‘The Uses of ‘a’. This is a kind of meditation about telling stories or, more precisely, about using language imaginatively and creatively. ‘It’s full of potential’, says Mary, and this can be said not just of her subject, the indefinite article ‘a’, but also of all the other stories in the collection.

“In my view, as Mary says of ‘a’, these stories ‘can be of enormous help in expanding our sense of life’. Many of the twenty-four pieces are mysterious, enigmatic, almost like the West African ‘dilemma’ tales where the listener (or reader) is left to solve the problem the story describes: some of these puzzling but powerful stories, such as ‘Contemplation‘, simply leave you to ponder their meaning and the pictures they paint, which linger in the mind. But Mary comments, after one such mysterious and magical tale, ‘The Gift of Love‘: ‘ I know not what the truth may be, I tell the story as it came to me’.”

If you would like a copy,  it costs £9.50 (+ £1.80 p&p for the UK), click



You might also like to get A Long Run in Short Shorts. That costs £8.50 (+ £1.80 p&p).



If you’d like both, you can get them for the grand total of  £20.30 (inc p&p). click



Just email memary.medlicott@storyworks.org.uk , to tell me if you’d like dedications.

Crisis , the charity for homeless people, will receive £1.00 for every copy sold.

Storytelling Starters ~ Retirement?

July 4th, 2020

Retiring and retirement are interesting. Sometimes they turn out to be boring, sometimes full of good new things. This week, a good storytelling friend, Jean Edmiston, has announced her retirement from working as a professional storyteller. This has brought lots of thoughts to mind.

First, it has made me remember how Jean and I  first met.  It was in the Ladies Room of the Drill Hall Arts Centre in Chenies Street in Central London. It was nearly time for the start of one of what had become known as the Drill Hall Storytelling Workshops and Jean and I were both washing our hands. The Drill Hall workshops were the four-hour long sessions I used to put on in the late 1980s and early 1990s with friend and colleague Karen Tovell. Monthly things that used to happen on Saturdays, they attracted fascinating people (including on one occasion a Town Crier) and in terms of story, they proved powerful events, full of all kinds of story and different ways of exploring them. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Too hot?

June 27th, 2020

To me it has felt so hot over the last several days, it has almost been too hot! The sunshine and the heat have reminded me of a Chinese story I’ve told in this blog before. Back in 2013 in fact. (Phew! Have I been doing blogs since then?) Anyway, I think the story is worth retelling today since in the context of today’s concerns, the overheating of the earth is very much a current concern.

Too too hot

A long time ago, there wasn’t just one sun in the sky. There were six. In summer, in consequence, the earth became extremely hot. Too hot! Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters: What next?

June 20th, 2020

What next? Ever ask yourself that question? I often do and this is because it often feels like there’s too much to do. Worse, it sometimes feels as if between all the things I’d like to do and the things I’ve got to do, the things I’d like to do get so far pushed to the back that they don’t get done at all.

Now, though, things are changing. After what seems like forever dealing with health issues, treatment for my fourth episode of cancer has come to an end and, for the moment anyway, I feel quite free.

So will it be writing more fictional stories as in my most recent book, The Uses of ‘a’? Or will it be continuing a kind of memoir of my storytelling life that I started and then left aside,  a book provisionally entitled A Storyteller’s Tale?  And what about Animal Antics, another project I conceived (and actually drafted out)  a little while ago?

Animal Antics is an animal alphabet, an A-Z of stories for children in the 8 to 12 age-range. This week, I took the step of asking Sarah Williams, a brilliant young artist friend of mine in Pembrokeshire,  if she would consider doing the illustrations for these stories. Hurray, she has said yes and has already started on them. Soon we’ll have a fine proposal to put to a publisher. And the next adventure will be finding one! Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters~ Journeying

June 13th, 2020

Aren’t there some lines of poetry which tell us that life is a journey that we must follow to the end? Certainly the metaphor of life as a journey has been travelling through my brain over these last hours. What put it there is that yesterday, thank goodness, saw the last of the actual journeys I’ve been taking to Guy’s Hospital for a course of post-cancer treatment with a drug called Avastin. 18 treatments, 3 weeks between each: this treatment took 54 weeks in all.

So barring the scan to come, that’s the end of that particular cancer journey. But it has obviously put the whole idea of journeys so firmly into my mind that last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I went travelling in my mind. The place I went to was the town of Fishguard where I grew up. I found myself thinking about the names of houses on whose front doors I used to knock when I was a growing-up girl. Journey’s End was one of the names. Every year I’d be knocking on it because every year at Sunday School we’d be given our collecting boxes to go out collecting money in aid of Methodist missionaries working overseas in countries such as India and China.

Who the missionaries were and what exactly they were doing I really had very little idea. All I know is that, on the whole, the people on whose doors I knocked were very kind, men putting their hands in their pockets, women going back inside to fetch their purse. Journey’s End, Dun Roamin, Sea Breeze: a majority of the houses had a name as well as a number. Our house was Number 16. But it was also Llwynon which means Ash Grove.

Going back to journeys, I’ve always liked them, especially the journeys by train. Even now as I think about trains, two very rough-looking men step into my mind as they got into the carriage at Milan Railway Station where Paul and I were sitting waiting to start on our way back to London after a holiday in Italy. These two men turned out to be very friendly brick-makers from Southern Italy on their way back to where they were working, namely Buxton (pronounced by them as Bwxton in true Derbyshire style). My first reaction was alarm when they got into our carriage in Milan. ‘Oh dear,’ thought I, ‘Are we safe?’ But it was these two lovely men who, because the carriage was so full, would get up from their seats in turn through the night so as to give me enough room to lie down and sleep. And when morning came, it was one of them that reached down his bag from the luggage rack above his head and got out a huge loaf of bread and a long, sharp knife and cut slices of bread and then salami that he immediately passed to us on the end of his knife.

Journeys bring memories. Memories are the stuff of so much life. I probably won’t be thinking too often or in too much detail about my 18 trips to Guy’s Hospital. But I’ll certainly be experiencing the pleasure and gratitude of getting to the end of that cancer journey. Besides, I’m still looking forward more than I can say to getting on the way to Pembrokeshire as soon as this Lockdown has ended.

PS: My first photo today is of a jigsaw of one of my favourite Pembrokeshire places, a lovely and not much frequented beach called Pwll Strodyr.

My second photo was taken on the Luing Ferry in the West of Scotland. How free those journeys can make you feel!

Storytelling Starters ~ Looking and Seeing

June 6th, 2020

‘This is the first time I’ve ever looked a white person in the eyes.’ It was a young black guy that said this to me and him saying it has stayed with me ever since, both in the fact of what he said and that he felt able to say it. I felt proud that the situation we were in – an adult storytelling workshop in Cape Town in South Africa – had made it both possible and comfortable for him to say such a thing.

I’d been asked to run that workshop by Alan Kenyon, a wonderful man who believed in stories and their power to enable things to be said and heard that need saying and hearing. Sadly Alan passed away a few years ago. He was a science teacher-trainer whom I’d originally met when he turned up at a storytelling course I’d been asked to run in an Adult Education venue in South London where I’d never previously worked.  No-one other than Alan turned up, a disconcerting circumstance which had the wonderful consequence that I was able to begin getting to know him there and then. At that time, he was in London for a while to try and learn how to use storytelling as part of the teaching of science and maths. After he’d returned to his work in South Africa, this interest of his eventually led him to put together the storytelling trip to South Africa which he asked me to come and do. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ A Fly in the Ointment

May 30th, 2020

A couple of days ago, I was in the kitchen clearing up. Suddenly I heard a voice from Paul’s study, a woman’s voice saying: ‘This is Early Years TV. I am Kathie Brodie and today I am joined by storyteller Mary Medlicott.’

‘No,’ I thought as I paused to check my sense of reality, ‘I’m not on TV. I’m here in my kitchen.’ When I told Paul about this odd event, he said his computer had been on and it was probably a fly landing someplace on his touch-screen that had brought up the item with Kathie which he keeps in one of the storage boxes on his computer desktop.   Weird!

Perhaps it was the fly that did something else too. Over these last few days, I’ve been reflecting on my reactions to the continuance of  Lockdown. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~What’s inside

May 23rd, 2020

One morning this week, there was a ring on the doorbell. The postman was there with a package. Larger  than A3, addressed to me in handwriting, what could it be? Inside was a violet-coloured, white-dotted plastic envelope with a long letter and an accompanying wadge of papers that, as I scanned through them, was like walking into a long-distant part of the past, namely those early teenage years when ones friends are the dearest, funniest, liveliest ever.

Dear, smiling friend Pam from my early teenage years had been sorting papers. Among them she’d found the ones she’d put into that plastic envelope. They included a photo of the gang we were part of, a copy of the programme for the production of Alice in Wonderland when I’d been Alice in our first year in Secondary School plus various other memory-jogging items together with, most importantly, that long letter from her: it was all such a surprise and pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Dead?

May 16th, 2020

‘Your language is dead!’ I remember it as vividly as when it happened. The voice shouted out very loudly from somewhere above my head and went ringing out across the great spaces of the Royal Albert Hall. It was a man’s voice and the brief silence that followed felt nervous and chilly. Wisely, no response came from the stage below where Welsh musician, Cerys Matthews was performing. Cerys is a Welsh speaker. She did not respond to the man who’d shouted. Instead and very wisely, she simply went on to the song she’d just announced as a song that comes from Wales and is in Welsh. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ Perfect Pleasure

May 9th, 2020

As a child, I was given a small patch of garden to tend. I remember the delight when marigold seeds produced marigold flowers. Making cakes felt wonderful too. Fairy cakes, Welsh cakes or a kind of bread-cake called Bara One-Two – all very nice. My mother, an excellent seamstress herself, also got me sewing and was always at the ready to sort out mistakes or help with the hard bits like putting in zips. My father would set me word games, for instance writing a long word at the top of a piece of paper and setting me the task of seeing how many smaller words I could find in the long word. Then when I was older he’d always be agreeable to taking me into his study to search out from his bookshelves a good book for me to read. When it looked like a grown-up one with lots of difficult words, I was secretly proud and pleased that he trusted that I would and could give it a go.

Simple Gifts:

All these things I regard as gifts my parents gave me. There were many others, my mother for instance sitting patiently against the rocks down on the Parrog beach in Goodwick while I practised swimming after she’d taught me to do it. Or, years later, my father patiently sitting by my side in the car as I learned to drive it and then when we went out for driving experience, requiring me to drive at a steady 30 miles per hour just as he’d had to learn to do when driving a tank in the war. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ The Tiger-Mouse Tales etc.

May 2nd, 2020

Quite a lot of years ago, I wrote a set of children’s stories. I called them The Tiger-Mouse Tales. Each of three main characters had its own story. The tiger-mouse was an enchanting creature that could turn itself into a tiger when it wanted or needed to do so or, equally, turn back to a mouse. The blue flamingo was a beautiful bird, tall, quiet and very serene. The sea-ling was an academic busy-body of a bird, very talkative and with plenty to say. He looked like he wore a black gown as my headmaster father used to do in school.

These three creatures, the tiger-mouse, the blue flamingo and the sea-ling, had literally appeared to me in a dream. It was because I was so fascinated by them that I wrote that set of stories about them, printed them out and gave copies to various children I knew. But I never did anything else with them.

This week, the stories have returned to my mind. They did so because, the other day, my cousin on my mother’s side of the family asked me about the grandfather we have in common. Neither of us had consciously ever met him. But I was delighted to tell her what I knew of him from my mother for he always sounded to me like a delightful man. He was Scottish, he grew up in Oban on the West coast of Scotland and, like his father before him, he became a journalist renowned for the speed and clarity of his shorthand. The long latter part of his working life was spent working on the Pembrokeshire newspaper, the Western Telegraph. Read the rest of this entry »