The Man With the Gold

Hannibal and the Masked Girl

Short Shorts Pentameters

Fugues on a Funny Bone - and other published short stories


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janwoolf63 at gmail.com


Published fiction

2022 Two stories for four-year-olds, 'Dagon and Fly' and 'Tad and Pole', in the collection Land of the Ever Young, available to buy from Culture Matters
2019 ‘Freedom’, a poem included in the anthology Freedom Poets for Öcalan, Peace in Kurdistan
2019 ‘Shrinking Brexit’ published at Culture Matters
2019 Two new stories published in the New River Press Year Book 2019 http://www.thenewriverpress.com/shop/pre-order-new-river-press-yearbook-2018-2019
2019 ‘Sugar Plum’ published at Culture Matters
2018 ‘The Baton’ published at Culture Matters http://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/fiction/item/2953-the-baton-a-short-story-by-jan-woolf
2017 Three shorts published in The New River Press Year Book, ‘Navaswan’, ‘Castro’s Room’ and ‘Eulogy for a Defiant Gardener’. Download press release
International Times, contributing short story writer, as well as reviewer and interviewer. Author page at http://internationaltimes.it/author/jan-woolf
2010 Fugues on a Funny Bone www.muswell-press.co.uk

Fugues On A Funny Bone
Jan writes: ‘My title came to me as I was thinking about the order of the stories. There was a linking context, but also a couple of consistent characters that were flirting. I’d also just listened to some of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos and learned that the fugue, or flight in music gives it tremendous energy – as one instrument or sound chases another. Funny bone was not only alliterative but suggested humour as I played about with language in a climate of management speak, or ‘bad language’ (as we are always telling children off about). Many of the stories come from the ‘inside worlds’ of children we might consider written off; the troubled, delinquent or problematic. Their situations suggest tangential stories through the lives of the people who teach and care from them – which is why the collection ends with a trip to Albania.

‘Each piece is accompanied by an image from sculptor Richard Niman. A monograph by the artist, about his work, and why the selected images resonate so well with the writing is at the end of the book.’ www.richardniman.co.uk

11 December 2012 Jan Woolf was interviewed about Fugues on a Funny Bone by Brendan Foley for the Writers Guild. www.writersguild.org.uk

Spring 2012 Review – Writing in Education, Issue no 56.
Evidence of the vitality and relevance of the form of the short story can be seen in Jan Woolf’s Fugues on a Funny Bone, which offers a series of interlinked fugues, or stories, detailing the lives of adults and children (and as the stories continue) it is deliberately hard to tell which is which) all connected to a referral unit for troubled children in London. Each of the stories works well as a standalone, and in the early ones the children are presented in a sympathetic but not sentimental way. The description of Jordan is representative.
He shuffles into the kitchen, locking his gaze onto the steadying trainers. The strip light neutralises the shadow the morning sun should have made, yet Jordan feels all shadow.
This is the kind of writing that so many of the contributors to Teaching the Short Story might identify as typical of the evanescent form. But this is not to underplay the humour here – particularly the ability to both sympathise with and mock the well-meaning but neurosis-riddled and politically over-sensitive world of the social work and teaching professions. But what makes this collection so powerful is the way in which the stories, as fugues, are interlinked – with incidental details like victims of the Falklands (or should that be Malvinas?) war building in resonance  - and expand, literally and thematically, from the specific to the general and global. It is only, perhaps, in the last story, set in post communist Albania, both a long way from and yet very close to the starting point in Hackney, that the need for a point to be made outstrips the story being told.
Paul Wright

‘A plucky and revealing set of stories drawn from the rise and fall of a cast of essentially good characters in an essentially flawed system….’
Sara Baume, The Short Review, February 2012 READ

‘Fugues…’ is described by Lindsay Clarke as ‘…moving, funny and provocative: deeply pertinent to our confused and confusing times.’

‘Jan Woolf has shaken up the short story form and forcing a redefinition, in the way that Simon Armitage has with poetry.’ Cheryl Moskowitz

Fugues on a Funny Bone as a paperback or the Kindle edition from Amazon.

2010 ‘Soho Square’, a short story published in Libbon magazine, which was later turned into the play Porn Crackers. See THEATRE

2012 Short story ‘Ten a Day’ is included in Still: an anthology inspired by photographs from photographer Roelof Bakker. Still includes contributions by twenty-six international writers.

The Short Review reviews Still, 14 November 2013

2016 The Lost Boy and the Yak Hair, a word tower published in International Times,


2018 Reading from Hannibal and the Masked Girl at Curious Arts Festival www.curiousartsfestival.com
Pentameters Theatre, London, launch of New River Press, Castro’s Room
2011 ANTs, Freud Museum (with Alan Franks), London
2011 Ten a Day, Express Excess, London
2011 Soho Square, Blacks Club Soho (Of Wit and Madness with Carol Topolski)
2011 Albanian Bananas, Bookmarks (Muswell Press in performance), London
2010 Muggins and the Griot, Daunts, Notting Hill , London
2010 Muggins and the Griot, Pitshanger Bookshop (Muswell Press in performance), London
2009 Jordan Meadows, Hackney Empire, London
2009 The Dissertation, Radio Resonance
2007 The Ushers Shoes, ICA, London
2006-2009 Five live broadcast readings for The Foundry Late Late Breakfast Show
2006 Beth in Venice, Royal Holloway University (‘The Child in Conflict’ with Blake Morrison), London


2013 SALT flash fiction prize, runner up for ‘Fixed’
2004 Asham Short Story competition, short listed for ‘Moving On’
1966 Beaverbrook Bennet Essay Prize for essay on TE Lawrence


2022 Um Kamal (mother of Kamal), Fawzi Ibrahim (KFI publishing)
North to North, Lynne Symonds (Author Enterprises)
The Mortal Maze, Ian D. Richardson (Preddon Lee Ltd)
Beckett's Last Act, Mora Grey (Muswell Press)
2013 The Gardens that Mended a Marriage, Karen Moloney (Muswell Press)
The Day the Grass Came, Leo Aylen, poetry (Muswell Press)

‘I never had such an editor.’
Leo Aylen

2012 Capitalism and Planet Earth, an irreconcilable conflict by Fawzi Ibrahim (Muswell Press)
2012 Death of a Nightingale, Alan Share (Authorhouse)
2010 Follow Me, a diary of love loss and fine dining by Joan Alexander (Muswell Press)

‘Jan is an editor with great panache; she’s thorough and hugely inspiring.’ Roelof Bakker