David England : Writer and Storyteller

Storyteller

DE StorytellingOne day in 1997 I was reading a stolen Caduceus magazine, when there emerged before my eyes an article on traditional storytelling. The article smacked me in the gob. Excruciating, but revealing.

It wasn’t punishing me for thieving. It was telling me something which would change my life. Up to that moment I had never heard about weird people getting together to tell traditional tales. “What about that then?” said the article. “Hell’s teeth,” I replied, only stronger, “I want to be weird as well. And tell stories.”

Half an hour later I had joined the Society for Storytelling. A day later I met the secretary, Tina Bilbé, and enjoyed my first gig, with Nick Hennessy. Two weeks later I went on a storytelling course at Blethfa – The Place of the Wolf – in remote Cymru, lead by Jenny Pearson and Michael Harvey. I was taught to tell stories by some wonderful storytellers: Ben Haggarty, Duncan Williamson, Jenny and Michael.

At Blethfa I told my first story to a public audience, Skeleton Woman, a wondrous tale. In the afternoon I had intended to tell Sealskin, Soulskin. Both stories are from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ essential book ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves.’ Except, Skeleton Woman kept interrupting me, calling to me and demanding I tell her story. I heard her and responded to her. In the evening ceilidh, Skeleton Woman helped me tell her story. Much as I love the Sealskin, Soulskin story, I have never told it. So it is.

Two weeks later I sold my house and metaphorically took to the road. The start of a journey down an unforseen path. It made all the difference.

Writer

I have always been a writer. As a young man I expressed my anguish in the form of poems. Later, working in industry, I wrote many technical papers. I have also written my versions of many traditional stories, some of which appear on my Storytelling Website.

While I was studying to be a psychotherapist, I wrote papers about psychology as part of my training. When I came to write my MA thesis in 1998, traditional storytelling informed my choice of theme, how the ancient stories illustrate and illuminate the trials which we mortals, heroes and heroines all, face on the path of life. For more about my psychotherapy work, please see my Psychotherapy Website.

In the summer of 2010 Tina and I were commissioned by The History Press to write ‘Berkshire Folk Tales’. Going from a 15,000 word thesis to a 60,000 work book was a big step, a great challenge, and an enormously fulfilling and joyful enterprise.

Mancunian poet and writer Jennie Bailey and I are now commissioned by The History Press to write a book of ‘Lancashire Folk Tales’, for publication in 2014, an endeavour which is proving equally joyful and rewarding.