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More About Us

Did you know that the Suffolk Book League is a volunteer led organisation? Run by a committee, we are a group who are passionate about reading and literature. From all walks of life, and with different roles, we are keen to ensure you get the most out of your membership. So, here's a bit more about us...

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Keith Jones

- Chair

On returning to live in Suffolk in 2012, the Book League was one of the first organisations my wife and I joined.  I've been on the committee since 2014  and now am doing a stint in the chair as part of an excellent team.  

 

Words read, written and spoken, heard, sung and prayed, are central to my life, and I love to live in the county of George Crabbe, Edward Fitzgerald and Ronald Blythe (just three of the writers I admire).  I am a member of the Trollope Society, and have long loved Proust and Marilyn Robinson, though my wife is descended from Jane Austen's brother. The SBL constantly introduces me to new pleasures in books. My grandchildren are now exploring books more and more.

 

I once turned down W. H. Auden's offer of lunch, played cricket with Kingsley Amis and took tea with E.M Forster.

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Sue Blything-Smith

- Secretary

I became a member of the SBL committee about four years ago, having enjoyed being a member for a good few years.

Surprising events seem to involve famous people so...At a meeting with some of my students and Prince Charles, he turned to couple of them nodded towards me and said 'I bet she's a lot of fun to be with', thankfully they agreed! 

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Amanda Hodgkinson

Amanda Hodgkinson is passionate about all things literary. A historical novelist and Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, she believes strongly in the power of reading and writing to enhance and empower our sense of well being. Favourite writers include Thomas Hardy, Marilynne Robinson, Anuradha Roy, Alice Munro, and Kathleen Jamie, but really, the list of favourite authors is too long to list here!

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Janet Bayliss

I joined Suffolk Book League in 1993 and was co-opted onto the Committee, where I have been ever since. This includes two periods as membership secretary and one stint as secretary. Something surprisingly about me? I once spent a night in a Swiss Trotskyite commune with a life sized picture of Michelangelo’s David on the inside of the toilet door – something different to view while in action, so as to speak!

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Andrew Burton

I have been a member of Suffolk Book League for 20 years and joined its committee in 2019.

 

I believe passionately in the power of words to transform lives. I agree with Edna O'Brien that great literature is a "priceless harvest". Some of the writers who have enriched that harvest for me include JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Levy, Toni Morrison, Anne Patchett and Colm Tóibín, to name but a few.

 

Fun fact:  I failed my first driving test by getting into the wrong car!  Lift, anyone?

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Angela Bell
- Membership Secretary

I've been an SBL member for at least five years. A surprising fact about me?  I'm a trained theatre captioner making shows accessible for deaf audiences, including working on the Rock n Roll pantomime at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. I was there for the 1000th performance as well!

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Tricia Gilbey

I joined the Suffolk Book League committee in 2019.

 

My favourite authors? Impossible to choose! But recently I've loved Tove Jansson, Hilary Mantel and Maggie O'Farrell.

 

At the age of ten I sent my exercise books full of stories to Heinemann. They said they were sure I'd get published one day.

 

Now an aspiring children's writer, I live in hope!

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Gill Lowe

I can’t remember when I first joined SBL but it was years ago! 

For all kinds of personal reasons I love The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. Choosing a favourite author can’t be done but the one I know most about is Virginia Woolf. 

 

Something surprising about me? Dave Stewart, later of the ‘Eurythmics’, tried (but failed) to teach me to play the guitar when I was a teenager.   

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Amber Spalding

I joined the SBL committee in 2022, after being a member during my undergraduate degree.

 

I am passionate about reading and writing, particularly in community-based environments. I enjoy working with young people, allowing them to discover the powers of storytelling.

 

I believe that when we write, we write with our whole being. As Virginia Woolf once said, ‘fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners’. I embody this interconnectedness when writing my own fiction.

 

Some of my favourite reads this year? There are too many, but these three in particular have stuck with me. Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh, Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller, and The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan.

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Jeff Taylor

I’ve been a member of the Suffolk Book League since 2015 and a member of the committee for much of that time.

 

I first came across the League ten years earlier when, living in Norfolk, I wrote a monthly column on East Anglian literature for the Eastern Daily Press newspaper. A leaflet, Literary Suffolk, published in 1998 and which had been complied by members of the League, was a very helpful source of information. Usefully, in 2008, Literary Suffolk was updated by Anne Parry, a long-standing member of the League, and republished as a small booklet to celebrate the organisation’s 25th anniversary. Inspired by these publications I have been gently digging into the literary heritage of Suffolk since moving to the county in 2013. 

 

Having been an archaeologist in years gone by, I’m happy that this ‘literary archaeology’ is much less messy than the real thing.

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Lynette Denny
-Treasurer

I have a varied background that includes policing, training, recruitment, and 12-years working for the Official Receiver’s office as an Insolvency Examiner. Ministerial work as a Policy Advisor followed in London working for the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport. Just prior to the pandemic, I began working at the University of Suffolk, leaving my post as School Coordinator in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities to join Scrutton Bland as Team Coordinator in September 2022. 

 

I have been a primary school governor since February 2008. 

I am a lapsed dystopian novelist, having been longlisted in 2017 for a long-since abandoned manuscript. Unsurprisingly, my favourite author is Margaret Atwood, with my favourite books being The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë), and Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen)

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Rose Gant

I became a member of SBL in 2021 just after I began studying on the MA in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Suffolk.

 

I love reading a wide variety of literature, but some of my favourite books are The Great Gatsby, Rebecca and Jane Eyre.

 

Something surprising about me? (But definitely not surprising to my friends…) My favourite member of the Brontë family is Branwell, who is the focus of my PhD studies.

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Dymphna (Dee) Crowe

I have been a member of Suffolk Book League for several years and am joining the committee, having been a volunteer for the past year. I like fiction relating to relationships and communication, particularly in families. Favourite authors include: Colm Toibin, Marilynne Robinson and Anne Enright.

 

My passion is history, particularly of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I am currently writing my own family history. A favourite pastime is oral history. I like to record people’s memories; we all have a story to tell.

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James Phillips

After joining the Suffolk Book League as an English undergraduate at the University of Suffolk; having volunteered for a year I felt the spur to join the committee. I look forward to getting stuck into all things bookish, especially with our wonderful BookTalk Journal. 

 

A fact about me, if not surprising, is that I am well on my way to curating my own library. 1,000 books is the goal! From souvenirs, to National Trust second hand bookshops, gifts, through to exclusive new releases; I’m always endeavouring to find anything that piques my curiosity, ignites rapture or embraces my interests.

 

My favourite? Well, three! Closest to my heart and real contenders are Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, but by far my favourite, my love and joy, has to be If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio.

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