Louise Rennison, author
Louise Rennison (1951-2016) was the author of the 10 teenage diaries of Georgia Nicolson, author and performer of ‘Stevie Wonder felt my face’ and ex-Women with Beards. Broadcast with John Peel and Radio 4, and columnist for the London Evening Standard.
She had studied at Brighton College of Art in the 1980s and made Brighton her home, retaining a close relationship with members of the arts departments. In 2009 on the occasion of the College of Art’s 150th anniversary, she wrote:
“My first two books have been made into a Paramount film, Angus, thongs and perfect snogging, and I have been up there with my latest book ‘Stop in the name of pants’. Actually my first book was called ‘Angus, thongs and full frontal snogging’ but the Americans thought that was too rudey dudey. They might be right, I don’t know what full frontal snogging means and I made it up.
“In fact it strikes me that although the books have sold millions in 25 countries vair few people know what I am on about.
“I came to Brighton as a mature student in 1982 to be interviewed for expressive arts. (Well I was older than the confident teenagers who turned up lugging huge portfolios of artwork. I had a sketch of a daffodil.) To be perfectly frank I more or less willed myself onto the course. The tutors (saints and martyrs one and all… Peter Hawes, Liz Aggiss, Billy Cowie, John Holloway et al) gave me what turned out to be, in every way the chance of a lifetime.
“A cornucopia of talent and inspiration poured into the college, the performance lunchtimes were legendary. I remember Rose English, the genius of performance art, saying as she stood on stage in a ludicrous ballgown and tiara; ‘I know what you are all thinking. Thank God it’s not me up there in that frock.’
“We even got our own public playing arena in the Zap Club along with Open Secret, Ian Smith, Birds with Ears, Divas, Theatre of the Bleeding Obelisk, Eddie Izzard and others. I leaped about in a false beard in Women with Beards. My fond recollection is that four of us went on stage (in our beards) and yelled ‘All men are rubbish!!!’ and went off to massive feminist applause. Happy days. Things were so simple then. It was all boys’ fault, with the exception of Maggie Thatcher who was in fact a boy with a handbag.
“Everything I have gone on to do is built on the beauty, freedom, inspiration and sheer bloody artiness (but in a good way) of those days and that place. I learned from everyone and I would do it all again now.”
Louise Rennison, 2009
Upon Louise Rennison’s death in 2016, her publishers Harper Collins said: “Nobody wrote for teenagers like she did, she understood them, their lives and their extraordinary and powerful friendships. In life, as in her writing, she brought joy and laughter.”