An evocative story about female friendships and being a mod girl in the 60s The Saturday Girls (formerly Beyond the Beehive) is out now, published by Bonnier Zaffre.

  • Written by a former barrister who practised from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC and is well known for her work on women’s issues.
  • Set against a background of the political climate of the day including CND and the Vietnam War.

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1965, a year of mods and rockers, Motown music, milk bars and ban-the-bomb.

Sandra and Linda have been best friends for as long as they can remember.  They live on a working-class housing estate in Essex.  Sandra’s New Year resolution is to get engaged to Danny Mulroney, the local bad boy.  Linda needs to leave the estate, or so Sylvie says – Sylvie, the exotic, scarlet woman, who has a baby but no husband, lived in Paris but has no passport, reads books but has no bookcase.

A passionate, honest and important story of female friendship and the search for love and adventure at a time of political and social change.

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Elizabeth Woodcraft grew up on a working class housing estate in Essex.  She was a mod and worked in the local milk bar.  After attending Birmingham University she worked as a National Co-ordinator for the National Women’s Aid Federation in London and subsequently read for the Bar.  During her time as a barrister, working from the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, she represented Greenham Common Peace Protesters, Anti-Apartheid demonstrators, striking miners and Clause 28 activists as well as battered women, children who suffered sexual abuse and gay parents seeking parental rights.  Elizabeth’s first two books were Good Bad Woman (shortlisted for the CWA award for best debut novel) and Babyface (both HarperCollins) featuring barrister Frankie Richmond.

For more info contact: Imogen Sebba

Agent: Annette Green Annette Green Authors’ Agency   

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Elizabeth Woodcraft 

The new book continues the story begun in A Sense of Occasion.  In 1965 Linda and Sandra dance at the Corn Exchange, drink coffee in the Orpheus, skirt round the pubs in Tindal Street, cheer the Chelmsford City Football team to victory and dream of a future away from Chelmsford.  Even though Sandra and Linda are mods, Linda wears a Ban the Bomb badge and refuses to buy South African fruit. And now Sandra has started to backcomb her hair for reasons of her own, so that she has almost achieved a Beehive.  Meanwhile, Linda has met Sylvie, the bad girl of the estate. Sylvie is an unmarried mother, and no-one knows who the father is.  Linda thinks it is important that Sylvie and the baby reconnect with the man that Sylvie once loved, even if it means dealing with the United States Air Force and the contradictions of the Vietnam war.

‘…it’s her unerring attention to the minutiae of those everyday lives that also evokes long forgotten memories: Lux Soap; Billy Cotton; Dolly Mixtures and the Never-Never Man. The veracious language is rich and wry set against a musical backdrop of Rhythm and Blues…. Bill Greensmith  ‘A Blues Life’.  ‘Blues Unlimited. The Essential Interviews’.

Elizabeth says ‘I wanted to write about a very important period of my life.  Being young in Chelmsford in the 60s was very exciting.  We were mods, we had the clothes, we had a coffee bar with a juke box, and we had Ready Steady Go! on TV on a Friday night.  And we had the Corn Exchange – at a time of great music, all the best performers came to Chelmsford including the Who, the Yardbirds, Wilson Pickett and Georgie Fame. And at the same time, the fear of the H-bomb was very real, the Vietnam war was taking the lives of thousands, and apartheid in South Africa was shocking the world.’

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Also by Elizabeth Woodcraft

Final cover_1622x2500px        A Sense of Occasion – the Chelmsford Stories

A Sense of Occasion, takes us back to the 1960s, when Elizabeth was a mod and with her friends, drinking coffee in the Orpheus coffee bar and riding on Vespas and Lambrettas, dreamed of a different life.  Anyone who lived through the Sixties or wishes they had, will enjoy this heart-warming collection of short stories about the journey of four adolescent mod girls to adulthood. 

In these nine poignant, interlinked tales, Woodcraft describes the agony and small happinesses of young people on the brink of adulthood. Childhood fan-dom and the disappointment of being too young is deftly painted in ‘Tea for Tommy’ as Linda invites Tommy Steele to tea.  A Ban-the-Bomb march that passed through Chelmsford is the backdrop to the tragic story of one particular bomb that fell in Woodford during the Blitz.  Deirdre  bakes a cake with three eggs which leads to a dramatic event.  In the final stories, a wedding, the promise of a trip to London, and a reunion in the Golden Fleece point to new beginnings.

With memories of the war and the effects of rationing still being felt, young people were tasting the freedom a little money can bring.  Whether dancing to Geno Washington, drinking tea at a wedding reception on the estate or feeling uncomfortably out of place at a cocktail party, the stories share an insight into the minds of young working class women.  Humorous and moving, A Sense of Occasion is set in the Sixties but deals with timeless emotions.

Sense of Occasion - copies

‘A lovely lovely read.’  Tommy Steele

‘Wry tales of teenage love, loss, languor and Lambrettas that bring a lump to the throat long after you’ve closed the cover.’  Val Wilmer