Elizabeth Searle

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Elizabeth Searle
BornPenn Wynne, Pennsylvania
OccupationNovelist, short story writer
NationalityUnited States
Period1982 - present
GenreLiterary fiction, erotic literature, theater

Elizabeth Searle is an American novelist, short story writer and playwright. Her theater works have received major media attention. Her novel 'A Four-Sided Bed' is being developed as a feature film. She has five books of fiction, most recently 'We Got Him' (New Rivers Press) which is coming in audiobook in 2018. She is the creator and playwright for 'Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera' (music by Michael Teoli) which has a 2018 concert event in NYC at 54Below featuring Broadway performers, with a concert CD from Broadway Records. The show has had productions in NYC (at NYMF), in Chicago, LA, Portland and Boston. Searle's works have included the novels 'Girl Held in Home'. 'A Four Sided Bed and the short story collections My Body to You and Celebrities in Disgrace. She wrote the libretto for Tonya and Nancy:The Opera," produced in 2006, 2010, 2014 and in Minneapolis in 2018. Her and Michael Teoli's full length musical, "Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera" was produced in NYC as an official Full Production show at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in July, 2015. The show premiered in February 2008. A clip from the show appeared on ABC in January, 2018; recent media includes New York Times, BroadwayWorld and Playbill. Searle's theater works have drawn both national and international media attention.

Early life[edit]

Searle was born in Penn Wynne, Pennsylvania. Her father Bill was a Democratic Party activist and retired personnel director; Barbara, her mother, was a children's librarian. She has a younger sister, Kate, who works at MIT and Bill, her older brother, is a videographer.


Searle received a B.A. from Oberlin College and her Master's degree from Brown University. She was a special education teacher and taught students with autism in schools located in New Haven, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island.


In 1982, Searle's short story, "Missing LaDonna", appeared in Redbook. This was followed by stories placed in the South Carolina Review, the Indiana Review, The Greensboro Review, the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares and other journals. In 1993 her first book, My Body To You, was published. In 1992, it had been named winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award by the Iowa Writers Workshop. James Salter, a novelist and screenwriter, who wrote The Hunters, Downhill Racer, The Appointment and others, acted as judge.

A Four Sided Bed, Searle's first novel, was published by Graywolf Press in 1998 and received positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist.

A novella and collection of short stories entitled Celebrities in Disgrace was published in 2001. It was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize. When discussing one of the themes of this collection during an interview with Post Road Magazine, Searle said, "I had a phrase in my mind, 'the witch of ambition,' and I do think there is this sort of dark force inside of people and any of those dark forces are hard to write about but they're the ones you want to write about...." Ambition and the search for attention seem to be the "...driving forces of our time."[1]

"Celebrities in Disgrace," the title novella, was called a 'miniature masterpiece' by New York Times Book Review. Celebrities in Disgrace was produced as a short film in 2010 by Bravo Sierra Pictures, with a script co-written by Elizabeth Searle. The film premiered as an official selection at Woods Hole International Film Festival on Cape Cod and has screened at other festivals throughout the country. Searle's novel A Four-Sided Bed is being developed as a feature film.

Tonya and Nancy:The Opera previewed at the Zero Arrow Theatre of the American Repertory Theatre in 2006, produced by Tufts Music. It was selected by Opera Vista as one of the three best new one-act operas of the year in 2007. In 2010, it was performed by Mixed Precipitation in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Mixed Precipitation produced another production in February 2014 and has one coming in 2018.

Tonya and Nancy: The Rock Opera', a full length musical, is being produced in NYC as a concert event in Feb 2018. It premiered in 2008 in Portland, OR, produced by Triangle Productions. It featured libretto by Searle and music by Michael Teoli. The show was based on Searle and Abigail Al Doory Cross's Tonya & Nancy: the Opera, libretto and concept by Elizabeth Searle; adapted for the Portland production by Don Horn and Searle. The rock opera reviewed as "brilliant and touching" in Portland Mercury and received widespread media attention described in The Oregonian. Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera premiered in a new version with a new Book by Searle in January 2011, produced by Harborside Films and performed at the American Repertory Theater's Oberon Theater. Boston reviews included these comments: "Black Swan on Ice" (The Boston Herald); "Absurdly funny; surprisingly poignant moments amidst the comedy and a rousing soundtrack" (The Boston Phoenix); ; "An explosive cabaret of over-the-top rock tunes sung with operatic glass-shattering intensity…practically Shakespeare on ice"; (The Noise); "Brilliant; amazing music; one of the most exciting spectacles I have ever seen' (Steve Almond; WGBH Boston). In 2013, the rock opera was performed as a Staged Reading Showcase in NYC, produced by Harborside Films and directed by Kenny Howard of Broadway Consortium; the NY cast included Broadway performers Melissa van deer Schyff and Janine Divita. A new 'rock concert' performance of the show (Music by Michael Teoli and Libretto with new Book material by Elizabeth Searle) premiered in Hollywood at the King King Club on February 4, 2014, as a benefit for the LA theater Celebration. The show was performing as an official Full Production show at New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF) in July 2015. It was fully produced by Underscore Theater in Chicago for a 6 week run in Fall, 2016. It was named one of the Top Five Musicals of the Year by New City Stages and was a Jeff Award 'recommended' show, nominated for two 2016/2017 Jeff Awards and winning Best Supporting Actress (Veronica Garza) for the Chicago production, directed by Jon Martinez.

Searle's essays have appeared in over a dozen anthologies. She has co-edited an anthology on Soap Operas from McFarland Books (2017) and has a new co-edited anthology with McFarland in 2018. She was in three 2015 anthologies, including "Paper Camera" from New Rivers Press. Her essay "Knitted Goods: Notes from a Nervous Non-Knitter" appeared in the anthology Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2013. Searle's One Act Play 'Stolen Girl Song' premiered at the Northern Writes New Play Festival in Maine in May 2013; it was performed at Poet's Theater in Somerville, MA in December 2013. Searle's novel A Four-Sided Bed is being developed as a feature film by Creatrix Films and by producer David Ball. Her script for A Four-Sided Bed has won prizes at the American International Film Festival and at Woods Hole International Film Festival in 2013. It was produced as a staged reading at Zephyr Theater in LA in May 2016, starring Evan Ross (The Hunger Games) and Gia Mantegna (Under the Dome).

Searle has taught creative writing at Brown University, Emerson College, the University of Southern Maine's Program in Creative Writing, the University of Massachusetts Boston and other institutions. She has been a member, Board officer and committee chairperson of the New England chapter of International PEN. In 1984, Searle married software developer John Hodgkinson; they have a son, Will and reside in Arlington, Massachusetts.



  • "We Got Him" (2016) Template:ISBN 978-0-89823-348-3
  • A Four-Sided Bed (1998) ISBN 978-0983677482
  • "Girl Held in Home" (2011) ISBN 978-0898232585

Story collections[edit]

As contributor or editor[edit]

  • "Knitted Goods: Notes from a Nervous Non-Knitter"; Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. W. W. Norton & Company (2013)
  • "Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience"; Dzanc Books, 2011
  • "No Near Exit: Best of Post Road Magazine"; Dzanc Books, 2011
  • Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes (2007)
  • The Darfur Anthology (2007)
  • Now Write!:Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers (2006)
  • Out of the Blue Writers Unite (2004)
  • The Iowa Award: The Best Stories, 1991-2000 (2001)
  • American Fiction, Volume Seven: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers (1995)
  • Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Stories by Women (1994)
  • The Time of Our Lives: Women Write on Sex After 40 (1993)

External links[edit]

  • Websites

elizabethsearle.net, [2] tonyaandnancytherockopera, [3] afoursidedbed.com [4]

  • Work
    • "Why We're Here", Ploughshares (1996–1997)[5]
    • "White Eggplant", Ploughshares (1991)[6]
  • Interviews
    • Boston Globe (2008)[7]
    • Post Road (2003)[8]
  • Reviews
    • Review of Celebrities in Disgrace, New York Times Book Review (2001) [9]
    • Review of A Four-Sided Bed, Standards Magazine, University of Colorado (1998)[10]
    • Review of A Four-Sided Bed, New York Times Book Review (1998) [11]
    • Review A Four-Sided Bed, Ploughshares (1998)[12]
    • Review of My Body To You, Ploughshares (1993)[13]
  • Miscellaneous
    • Audio File, Elizabeth Searle reading from Celebrities in Disgrace [14]
    • Elizabeth Searle web site [15]


  1. ^ Ellis, Sherry "Interview; Elizabeth Searle", Post Road Magazine, Issue 8, 2003 / [1]