Elizabeth Young (journalist)

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This article is about the literary critic and journalist. For other uses of the name, see Elizabeth Young (disambiguation).

Elizabeth Jesse Young (6 June 1950 – 18 March 2001[1]) was a London-based literary critic and author, who wrote principally on cult writers for a range of British newspapers and magazines. In particular she championed transgressive fiction, for which she received some criticism in the press, not least for her defence of A. M. Homes' The End of Alice, which dealt with themes of paedophilia from what was seen as an uncomfortably neutral perspective.


Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Young received a Calvinist education in her parents' native Scotland, before discovering at the age of 11 the works of Nelson Algren, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. The enduring fascination with the Beats was to stay with her. Before becoming a literary critic she worked in Compendium Books in Camden Town and was noted for her Goth appearance. In addition to literary criticism, Young's attraction to the counterculture saw her pen articles on drugs, music and pornography. She also appeared as Ray Gange's girlfriend in Rude Boy, the 1980 film about a roadie for The Clash.

Young acted as a champion for the US cult scene, with authors such as Bret Easton Ellis, Dennis Cooper and A. M. Homes receiving regular praise in her reviews. She also promoted the early talents of Poppy Z. Brite. In 1992, she and Graham Cavaney published Shopping in Space: Essays on American 'Blank Generation' Fiction (Serpent's Tail), which dealt extensively with the US literary underground, from Joel Rose to grindhouse movies. In terms of UK writers, she acted as an enthusiastic supporter of the talents of Stewart Home, Alasdair Gray, Alan Warner and Irvine Welsh.

In 2001, Young died from Hepatitis C. Later that year, a selection of her reviews and articles were collated in a volume published by Serpent's Tail, Pandora's Handbag, for which friend Will Self penned the introduction.


  1. ^ John Williams, et al. Obituary: Elizabeth Young, The Guardian, 23 March 2001.

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