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 ~ From fame to folly

August 1st, 2020

Pwllderi is a cove on the North Pembrokeshire coast.  The way down into it is dauntingly steep. I’ve never climbed down there myself. But many times, I’ve spent time above it. The view from the top is long, all the way to the tip of the St David’s Peninsula,  and the peace is so deep that you can’t avoid feeling it deep inside you.  Funny then that a memorial plinth near the edge of the cliff  quotes lines from a poem which is all about voices. They’re the voices recalled from the boyhood of the man who wrote the poem. His name was Dewi Emrys and he grew up not far away.

Dewi Emrys wrote in Welsh and became one of Wales’ best-known  writers. After winning the Bardic Chair at the National Eisteddfod for the fourth time, the Eisteddfod rules were changed to limit the number of times you could enter. But Dewi Emrys was still a boy, 7 or 8 years old, when he came to live in Pembrokeshire at Rhosycaerau on the Strumble Head peninsula. The reason for his coming there was that his father had become the minister at Rhosycaerau Chapel. Dewi went to school first in Goodwick, then Fishguard (where I was born). When he left school, he was taken on as apprentice journalist at the Fishguard Echo. However, when illness obliged his father to give up being minister at Rhosycaerau, Dewi Emrys had to leave his beloved Pencaer area and move to Carmarthen where he got work on the Carmarthen Journal. Then, after getting very involved in reciting poetry at big Eisteddfods in South Wales, he quite suddenly changed direction when he decided to become a preacher like his father. It was an ominous move in view of the alcoholism that would later ruin his life. Meantime, so popular did he prove as a preacher that it is said that when working in Flintshire, the local miners set about arranging for a phone line to run from his pulpit down into the pit so they wouldn’t miss his sermons. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ And in Bangalore!

July 25th, 2020

I first heard from Swati Kakodkar, a storyteller in Bangalore in India, some five years ago when she wrote to me about storytelling. While we’ve had some good face-time I have often thought how much I would like to be able to meet her in person. Maybe one day that chance will arise! Meantime, to complete (for now!) my little series on storytelling spreaders, here’s some of what Swati has achieved.

As well as being the busy mother of a son and cooking for the family, Swati is a management professional who has worked in the areas of Brand Building and Corporate Communication. She is also a certified storyteller who holds a Diploma in Storytelling from Kathalaya Academy of Storytelling in India, an institution affiliated both to the University of Sweden and the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. In 2013, Swati founded Story ki Bory, into which she has poured all her varied experience. When I asked Swati the meaning of Story ki Bory, she answered that ‘bory’ means ‘sack’ in Hindi. So Story ki Bory means a sackful of stories. But the vision behind it is wider than any sackful. As Swati describes it,  the vision is ‘to make a definite difference and create a positive change through the transforming energy of stories and storytelling’.

Here are some of the different parts of Swati’s Story ki Bory project. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ So much going on

July 18th, 2020

It’s that thoroughly wet kind of day here in Wales (where I currently am). So it feels like an excellent time to return to the subject of story-spreading by  introducing Fiona Collins. Fiona is one of the most active story-spreaders I know and, as it happens, she has for some years lived in North Wales.

Years ago, Fiona was a teacher at the Primary School in Lambeth in London which my foster-sons used to attend. After getting into storytelling, she moved to North Wales where today she leads a very busy life as a professional storyteller.  As the piece she has kindly written for this blog shows, she is also a story-spreader supreme. Not all storytellers are! Some focus entirely on their own performing. Others, like Fiona, also focus on helping others become storytellers too. Read the rest of this entry »

Storytelling Starters ~ How the world goes on

July 11th, 2020

How the world rocks – and so often not in good ways. This week, I’d meant to write more about Storytelling Spreaders. And I will come back to that, I promise. But for now my intentions have been changed by an email I and many others have received from an old friend in St David’s. Christopher Taylor has had a bookshop there for many years. It’s on the little sloping street known as  The Pebbles on the way down to the Cathedral from the centre of the city (for, despite its smallness of size, St David’s has a Cathedral and as a result is officially recognised as a city). But even as I write, this bookshop is being cleared out and closed. Its lease has been ended by the owner of the property. What a tragedy for St David’s and for visitors to the Cathedral. For with the closure of the bookshop  goes something very valued as a source of literature on the history and importance of St David’s as well as a source for learning about what’s going on in the Cathedral and the area in terms of current  events. Also, very importantly, the bookshop has been a place for talk for local people and visitors, somewhere to find out things about the area in an informal way. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »