Ellen Phethean was born in 1952 and grew up in SE London. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Lancaster university, gaining a BA and MA in Theatre Studies. She moved to Newcastle in 1978, where her maternal family came from. She worked with the writer Julia Darling in The Poetry Virgins, a women’s performance poetry group, producing the anthology Modern Goddess, Diamond Twig Press 1992 and Sauce, Bloodaxe Books 1994. They co-founded Diamond Twig, a north east women’s press: www.diamondtwig.co.uk
She was Writer in Residence for Gateshead Libraries between 1997 and ’99. Ellen’s radio poem Witnessing Westgate Hill was broadcast on Stanza, BBC Radio 4 in 1997 and her verse play Journey with a Golden Lady, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2000. She also wrote a number of plays for the students of Northumbria University Drama department and for Live Theatre’s Youth Group. She wrote Cast Off, a verse play, performed in community venues with the Poetry Virgins throughout 2001.
She was Community RadioAudio Artist in Residence with CBIT between 2001- 04 and an Audio artist/writer Sage Gateshead for their Voices of the River’s Edge project between Jan 04 – July 05.
She wrote Wall, a teen novel in poems, when writer in residence with Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books and Writing Along The Wall project 2002/3. It won joint first prize in the Bishop Auckland Crossover Novel competition, 2004 and was published by Smokestack Books 2007.
Her personal collection of poetry, Breath, 2009 Flambard, was shortlisted for the London Fringe 1st Collection Award 2010.
She co-wrote Cain and Abel with her son Fred Phethean, in Hip Hop style, for the Durham Mysteries Cycle, May 2010. She collaborated with Southpaw Dance company and produced text for their community dance project Rush in 2015.
Her novel for teenagers Ren and the Blue Hands was long listed for the Times/Chicken House novel competition 2012 and will be published by Red Squirrel Press in 2016.
Her second full collection Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2014. Red Squirrel have also reprinted Breath.
She has a Creative Writing MA from Newcastle University, and she runs workshops and teaches Creative Writing. She has two sons and two grandsons, and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.