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Penny Pepper

Penny Pepper Photo: Kaye Mayer-Sayer

‘First In The World Somewhere’

First In The World Somewhere is a memoir by local resident, Penny Pepper: writer, poet, activist and punky pioneer. Described by actor, comedian and activist, Liz Carr as “A force of nature and a voice like no other”. Penny will be performing in Hastings, her home town, at Bookbuster in November.

First in the World Somewhere, launched at The Royal Festival Hall, charts an extraordinary life in the indie-punk music scene from Thatcher’s brutal 80s to Blair’s Brit Pop 90s.

In a few weeks, Penny Pepper blocked Whitehall with radical group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), talked disability sex at the House of Lords and appeared on Channel Four’s Brexit Debate. In her younger days she won an Erotic Oscar, got a Christmas card from Morrissey – and Diane Abbott was her sound roadie. She had help from Ken Livingstone to move to London and wrote to the Pope about animal welfare… and had a reply.

Penny Pepper's memoir

Penny Pepper’s memoir

In this absorbing memoir, Penny paints a raucous picture of her earlier life, of intense friendships, of love and loss, of music and misadventure – from Thatcher’s battleground of the mid-1980s through to the early Blair honeymoon years.

Craving freedom from the home counties council estate where she grew up, Penny dreamt of moving to London and finding her way as a writer and singer in the city’s burgeoning indie music scene. Without what others take for granted and before the days of genuine community care, she set out – armed with her raw, burgeoning talent – to fight the social demons of indifference and bigotry – while also having as much fun as she can. Dressed in leather bondage skirts, fishnets, hair extensions flying vodka in hand, Penny always had a song on her lips and was ready to rant a poem.

There are parties; there’s sex; there’s music. She exchanges letters and letters – with Morrissey and Robert Wyatt, amongst others. Her cult 12” single, Live Your Life is reviewed in the NME and played on the radio. Her album Spiral Sky is No. 1 in Greece for a week. And there is an opportunity to be a founding voice in the radical beginnings of the disability rights movement.

This is not a memoir about the disability experience written in a traditional way. First in the World Somewhere is a unique portrait of the UK punk-indie and activist scene of the 80s and 90s. It is the chronicle of Penny’s early years of activism, of her desire to write and sing – and her struggles – told with startling honesty and a razor-sharp wit, fearless in the face of prejudice.

Penny now lives locally: “I moved to Hastings/St Leonards full time in April this year, but have been connected to the area through work, friends/partner, and a caravan at Beauport since 2009. I feel that Hastings is my true home and it has welcomed me with warm and wayward arms. Perhaps I buried my heart in the pebbles on the beach when I came as a child on holiday aged 5 –  now I am back to reclaim it and stay where I belong within this creative, rowdy, beautiful, tawdry, magnificent community of many shades.”

Penny Pepper

Penny Pepper

Book Buster book shop reading and Q&A 

On Thursday 15 November, Penny will be reading from her first collection, Come Home Alive at Tim Bartons’ Bookbuster on Queen’s Road in Hastings. This will be followed by a short Q&A session and informal book signing. Entry is £2. At Tim’s events, there are open-mic opportunities.

‘That’s What She Said’

Penny is headlining That’s What She Said at the Royal Albert Hall. The event starts 9.30pm (doors approx 7.30pm). The event ends around 11pm and is a festive celebration of women in poetry, prose, music and performance.

Penny with her books

Penny with her books

‘A Good Read’

First In The World Somewhere was featured in a recent episode of Radio 4’s A Good Read, which actor, Liz Carr (‘Clarissa’ in Silent Witness) chose as her favourite book.

Radio 4: A Good Read.



'Come Home Alive'

‘Come Home Alive’

A versatile, witty and candid writer and poet, Penny Pepper performs and reads across the UK and once, much further afield, in New York. Her debut poetry collection, Come Home Alive, has been published this year by Burning Eye Books, the lead publisher of spoken word poets. She wrote the taboo-breaking book, Desires Reborn in 2012 – and in 2013 she won a Creative Futures Literary Award. She writes regularly for the Guardian, has a regular column in Huffington Post as The Naked Punk. and guests on BBC TV & radio including Woman’s Hour. She has also been included in the Disability Power List three years in a row.

Posted 12:45 Wednesday, Oct 31, 2018 In: Literature

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