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Papers of Valerie Mason-John

Identifier: MASON-JOHN

Scope and Contents

Material relating to Valerie Mason-John's work including:

6 VHS videos: 2 videos labelled 'Brown Girl in the Ring', 1 video labelled "Queenie's Show Reel", 1 video labelled "Body Politics and Dirty Smile 1993," 1 video labelled "Labismina: A Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse Returns from the underworld" and 1 video labelled "Fuzzy Dames at the Oval House;"

1 90 minute cassette tape labelled "Black Women Speak" and 1 90 minute cassette labelled "Greta 1" on side A and "Greta 2" on side B;

1 script, in 2 parts for "Sin Dykes", second draft for the Gay Sweatshop;

1 issue of Feminist Arts News, vol 4. no. 2 on "Black women in the Arts: 1992" part 2 including a piece by Valerie Mason John;

4 issues of Spare Rib, no 198 featuring Audre Lorde on the front cover, no. 199 featuring international women's day, no. 202 with a feature on Claudia Jones and no. 205 with the cover story Remember Cynthia Jarrett.


  • 1980 - 1985

Biographical / Historical

Valerie Mason-John (also known as Queenie) was born in 1962 in Cambridge.She was raised in Dr Barnardos, foster homes, living on the streets aged 14, and in was put into borstal aged 15 to 17. Whilst at University, her political consciousness was shaped, as well as her involvement in the Black Women's Movement and specifically the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD).

She studied at Leeds University and later for an MA in Creative Writing at Sussex University, and is a playwright, author and performance poet. She worked as an international correspondent covering Australian aboriginal land rites. Her writing has included articles for various national publications, including The Guardian, The Voice and The Pink Paper, and she has done freelance research work for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Arts Council. She is also a former editor of Feminist Arts News, directed Pride Arts Festival for four years, and was the former artistic director of London Mardi Gras. She is also part of a team of trainers designing anger management programmes for schools.

She was an actress with the Talawa Theatre Company and in 2001 was Artist in Residence for PUSH 2001 at the Young Vic, the National Theatre and the Jerwood space in London. She has undertaken other residencies at Holloway Prison and Elizabeth Garret Anderson School.

In 1998, she wrote and produced her first play, Sin Dykes. Since then her theatre writing credits have included Brown Girl in the Ring, a one-woman show which toured nationally, The Adventures of Snow Black and Rose Red, a family pantomime, and most recently, You Get Me, which premièred in 2006.

She edited Talking Black: African and Asian Lesbians Speak Out, published in 1994 and wrote Lesbians Talk: Making Black Waves with Ann Khambatta, published in 1993. Her collection of poems and plays entitled Brown Girl in the Ring was published in 1999. This was followed by her first novel, Borrowed Body (2005, republished in 2007 as The Banana Kid, and in 2014 was re published as Borrowed Body in Canada), told in the voice of Pauline, a young black girl of Nigerian descent, growing up in white foster homes and orphanages, then reclaimed by her mother. It won the 2006 MIND Book of the Year Award.


1 Box

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Repository Details

Part of the Archives Collection Repository

Black Cultural Archives
1 Windrush Square