Frank Key

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Frank Key
The Hooting Yard 'implausible' emblem
The Hooting Yard 'implausible' emblem
BornLondon, United Kingdom
OccupationWriter, broadcaster
Genreshort story, satire, humour

Frank Key is a British writer, blogger[1] and broadcaster best known for his self-published short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004.[2] Key co-founded the Malice Aforethought Press with Max Décharné and published the fiction of Ellis Sharp.

Critical reception[edit]

The Guardian's literature columnist Sam Jordison has described Frank Key as one of the most prolific living writers of literary nonsense.[3] The Guardian's David Stubbs wrote that Frank's prose "reminds of Max Ernst engravings gone Bonzo Doo-Dah".[4] The SF critic David Langford wrote "Frank Key's lumbering machinery is like nothing since Ralph 124C 41+ and other pillars of SF's wooden age, only more decrepit. He may even conceivably be writing steampunk.".[5] Edmund Baxter, the director of programming for Resonance FM wrote "Frank Key is one of the most important writers in English today".[2]


Prior to 2006 Key's published work consisted almost entirely of short-run, self-published pamphlets. All of these original printed releases are out of print. Some of these books have become collector's items which have traded at many times their original value.[6][7] In 2009 Key began re-publishing stories from his small-press releases. The most recent publication, We Were Puny, They Were Vapid, includes the short stories The Phlogiston Variations and The Book of Gnats, which were originally published in the Massacre anthology series.[8][9]

Out of Print[edit]

In 1986, inspired by the postpunk DIY ethic, Key founded the Malice Aforethought Press with Max Décharné. Over the next few years they published a large number of short-run pamphlets.

Title Year Cover Art
Twitching and Shattered[10] 1989 Frank key twitching and shattered anthology.jpg
Stab Your Employer! (with Maxim Decharne) 1986
Smooching With Istvan (with Maxim Decharne) 1987
Forty Visits to the Worm Farm[11] 1987
Tales of Hoon 1987
Hoots of Destiny 1987
A Zest For Crumpled Things 1987
The Churn in the Muck 1988
Crop Circles : The Crunlop Experiment[12] 1991 Frank key crop circles.jpg
House of Turps[13] 1989 Frank key house of turps.jpg
The Brink of Cramp 1989 Frank key brink of cramp cover.jpg
Volleyball, Tar & Shuddering 1989
The Immense Duckpond Pamphlet[14] 1989 Frank key the immense duckpond pamphlet.jpg
Penitence And Farm Implements 1990
He Keeps His Gutta-Percha in a Gunny Sack 1990
Sidney The Bat Is Awarded The Order of Lenin[15] 1990 Sidney The Bat is awarded the Order of Lenin.jpg
Bring Me the Head of Derek the Dust-Particle![16] 1990 Frank key bring me the head of derek the dust particle.jpg
Danny Blanchfowler : A Life in Football[17] 1991
Testimony of a Tundist 1993
Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning[18] 1994 Frank key lars talc.jpg

In Print[edit]

In 2003 Key launched "Hooting Yard", originally intended as an internet archive of his writing. In addition he has released six volumes of stories which originally appeared on his web-site.

Title Year Cover Image
Befuddled By Cormorants[19] 1996 Frank key beduddled by cormorants.jpg
Unspeakable Desolation Pouring Down From The Stars (and other tragedies)[20] 2007 Frank key unspeakable desolation.jpg
Gravitas, Punctilio, Rectitude & Pippy Bags[21] 2008 Frank key gravitas punctilio.jpg
Impugned by a Peasant[22] 2010 Impugned By A Peasant, front cover.jpg
Porpoises Rescue Dick Van Dyke[23] 2011 Porpoises rescue dick van dyke, front cover.jpg
Brute Beauty And Valour And Act, Oh, Air, Pride, Plume, Here Buckle! [24] 2012

In 2014, Key published By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, a selection of 147 previously published stories, with an introductory essay by Roland Clare.[25]


Resonance FM[edit]

Key has broadcast weekly on Resonance FM, since 14 April 2004 when his show Hooting Yard on the Air was first commissioned. The programme is broadcast live from Resonance FM's studios and consists almost entirely of Key narrating his own short stories and observations. Hooting Yard is the longest continuously running series on Resonance FM, with only the ClearSpot Show (which is technically not a series) having existed on the schedules for longer.

Resonance has broadcast a number of Hooting Yard special episodes. In December 2007 Key and the performance artist Germander Speedwell performed the whole of Jubilate Agno.,[26] an epic devotional poem by Christopher Smart This was the first and only time that this poem has been performed in its entirety on live radio.[27] The entire performance was in excess of three hours.

Key appears in Episode 3 of Resonance FM's Tunnel Vision,[28] a series recorded entirely in the sewers under London.


Key has narrated for all of the Escape Artists podcasts: Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle. In addition his short stories Bubbles Surge from Froth,[29] Boiled Black Broth and Cornets,[30] and Far Far Away[31] have been performed by Norm Sherman on the short-fiction series Drabblecast.


  1. ^ "Frank Key". The Dabbler. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Edmund, Baxter. "Six Years of Hooting Yard".
  3. ^ Jordison, Sam. "I'm talking nonsense. In a good way". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Stubbs, David (15 June 2006). "Sounds eccentric". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Langford, David (1993). "Mysteries of Frank Key". The New York Review of SF.
  6. ^ "Auction of Smooching With Istvan".
  7. ^ "Cramp and Turps".
  8. ^ Key, Frank (2009). We Were Puny, They Were Vapid. LuLu.
  9. ^ "Hooting Yard Books".
  10. ^ Key, Frank. Twitching and Shattered. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-90-2.
  11. ^ Key, Frank. "40 Visits to the Worm Farm".
  12. ^ Key, Frank. Crop Circles : The Crunlop Experiment. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-80-5.
  13. ^ Key, Frank. House of Turps. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-40-6.
  14. ^ Key, Frank. The Immense Duckpond Pamphlet. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-26-0.
  15. ^ Key, Frank. Sidney The Bat Is Awarded The Order of Lenin. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-70-8.
  16. ^ Natal, Perry; Key, Frank. Bring Me the Head of Derek the Dust-Particle!. Indelible Inc. ISBN 1-871427-13-4.
  17. ^ Key, Frank (28 May 2008). "Danny Blanchfowler: A Life In Football".
  18. ^ Key, Frank. Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning. Malice Aforethought Press. ISBN 1-871197-41-4.
  19. ^ Key, Frank (2006). Befuddled By Cormorants. LuLu.
  20. ^ Key, Frank (2007). Unspeakable Desolation Pouring Down From The Stars. LuLu.
  21. ^ Key, Frank (2008). Gravitas, Punctilio, Rectitude and Pippy Bags. LuLu.
  22. ^ Key, Frank (2010). Impugned by a Peasant. LuLu.
  23. ^ Key, Frank (2011). Porpoises Rescue Dick Van Dyke. LuLu.
  24. ^ Key, Frank (2012). Brute Beauty And Valour And Act, Oh, Air, Pride, Plume, Here Buckle!. LuLu.
  25. ^ Key, Frank (2014). Clare, Roland, ed. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader. Dabbler Editions.
  26. ^ "Jubilate Agno".
  27. ^ Jordison, Sam (27 December 2007). "For I will consider Jubilate Agno". The Guardian.
  28. ^ "Tunnel Vision Episode 3".
  29. ^ Sherman, Norm. "Drabblecast Trifecta X".
  30. ^ Sherman, Norm (11 March 2009). "Drabblecast Episode 106".
  31. ^ Sherman, Norm (19 November 2008). "Drabblecast Episode 90".

External links[edit]