Alan Franks was a feature writer on The Times for 30 years and was twice shortlisted for a British Press Award. He has written, sung and played on many music releases including several CDs of his own compositions. He currently sings tenor and composes for the London West Gallery Quire.
His poems have won several prizes, including the inaugural Wigtown Competition, Scotland’s largest, and the Petra Kenney Award, judged by poet laureate Andrew Motion and The Wilfred Owen Memorial Prize in 2014. Before writing poetry he composed and performed songs with the singer Patty Vetta. They made hundreds of appearances at clubs, festivals and on radio, and the first of their four CDs, “Will” was named by Time Out as one of the top “Roots” albums of 1995.
One of the songs, The Wishfulness Waltz, became the title track of a collection by the veteran folk-rock band, Fairport Convention.
He has performed his poems and music regularly at jazz clubs, and collaborated as a lyricist with the tenor saxophonist and composer, Tim Whitehead. Among his plays are Previous Convictions, at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre, and The Edge of the Land, which made a three-month tour of eastern England.
His prose fiction includes the novel Boychester’s Bugle, published by Heinemann and New English Library, which drew ecstatic reviews. The Times Literary Supplement called it ‘splendidly funny.’ For Alan Hollinghurst in The Observer, it resembled Keith Waterhouse, while The Tablet saw similarities with Flann O’Brien and early Kingsley Amis. The veteran farceur Tom Sharpe found it ‘brilliantly comic’.
His novella Going Over, his account of a man walking across the north of England for a reckoning with his aged father, won a competition run by the New Writer magazine.
The Notes of Dr. Newgate was a Guardian book of the year in 2013. The Adventures of Wendy Howard-Watt, a comedy about the life of an ambitious but trouble-prone celebrity interviewer on a struggling national newspaper, was published in 2016.
Franks is the author of many plays, including The Mother Tongue, which starred Prunella Scales and Gwen Taylor. The Edge of the Land, about the great floods of 1953, and Previous Convictions, a black domestic comedy. His most recent play, Looking at Lucian, premiered at the Theatre Royal Bath to excellent reviews in August 2017.
A collection of Alan’s Times diary columns was published as, Real Life with Small Children Under Foot and was read on BBC Radio 4.
What People Say
I bought this novel on the strength of a review in the Guardian and I wasn’t disappointed. It is one of the most accomplished I’ve read for ages. The seemingly effortless style is in fact polished and skilful without being slick.A reader on Amazon
Splendidly funnyTLS review of Boychester’s Bugle
English-ChekhovSheridan Morley, The Spectator