Molly Parkin

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Welcome to Mollywood redirects here. For other uses, see Welcome to Mollywood (disambiguation).
Molly Noyle Parkin
Born Molly Noyle Thomas
(1932-02-03) 3 February 1932 (age 84)
Pontycymer, Glamorgan, Wales
Nationality British
Alma mater Goldsmiths College
Brighton College of Art
Known for Painter, novelist, and journalist
Children Sophie Parkin

Molly Parkin (born Molly Noyle Thomas, 1932), is a Welsh painter, novelist and journalist, who became most famous for her exploits in the 1960s.[1]

Early life[edit]

Parkin was born in 1932, the second of two daughters, in Pontycymer in the Garw Valley, Glamorgan, Wales. She and her family moved to London to live with her grandparents when World War II began in 1939.[2] Parkin passed her eleven plus exam and went to Willesden County Grammar School (now Capital City Academy). During the war, without her parents' knowledge, at the age of 12 she worked on a paper round in Dollis Hill, London, in the evenings. She told her mother that she was studying art after-hours at school. Her grandfather saw her delivering papers, however, and reported this to her mother who prevented her from continuing with the job and punished her by making her do housework. After this she earned a little money from a Mr Hill, their lodger, who took pity on her and paid her to clean his room. She idolised Hill, who she thought was a gentleman, and many years later saw similar characteristics in the actor James Robertson Justice. Later the family bought a tobacconist and newsagent shop, which employed four paperboys. When one of the paperboys was caught stealing money her mother had to fill his shift quickly and made Parkin, then aged 14, do his paper round instead. On her first day doing the job a car knocked her off her bicycle and she hit her head on the kerb. She was knocked unconscious, hospitalised, and spent about a year off school, convalescing. Parkin spent much of this period alone in her room above the shop, drawing and painting. This developed into an interest in the arts.[3]


In 1949 Parkin gained a scholarship to study fine art at Goldsmiths College, London, and then a scholarship to Brighton College of Art. After marriage she became a teacher, painting throughout this period. After a series of affairs, including a long term association with James Robertson Justice, when Parkin separated from her husband at the start of the 1960s she lost the desire, inspiration and passion to continue with her artwork.[citation needed]

To support her two daughters Parkin turned to fashion. After making hats and bags for Barbara Hulanicki at Biba, and working alongside Mary Quant, Parkin opened her own Chelsea boutique, which was featured in a Newsweek article about Swinging London. After selling the shop to business partner Terence Donovan, she founded the innovative Nova magazine in 1964. She then became fashion editor of Harpers & Queen in 1967, and The Sunday Times in 1969, before becoming Fashion Editor of the Year in 1971. After becoming a television personality in the 1970s, Parkin was banned from the BBC for swearing.[4]

In the early 1970s Parkin wrote a 750-word outline for a novel entitled Love All. Although it was disliked by publishers Blond & Briggs, the office secretary commented that she liked it, and it was picked up for publication. Her second novel was more sexually-oriented: published in 1975, Up Tight was highly publicised, thanks to fashion photographer Harry Peccinotti’s cover shot of a French model wearing see-through knickers, resulting in book sellers Hatchards keeping it under the counter. After returning from living in New York City in 1980, she split from her second husband Patrick Hughes, and was again in need of funds to pay for her daughters' education.[5] By the time of publishing her novel Breast Stroke in 1983, she had become an alcoholic. The three publications, plus various articles for men's magazines, earned her the position of 24th in Timeout magazines review of London's best erotic writers.[6]

After publication of her autobiography "Moll" in 1993, Parkin started painting again, with her first exhibition in more than a decade at the Washington Gallery in Penarth. Much of her new work is inspired by Celtic landscapes' in particular Pontycymer, although she also found her travels in India moved her to produce more vibrantly coloured works. In October 2010, her memoirs Welcome to Mollywood were published.[7][8]

In May 2011 she was a 'castaway' on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs.[2]

In May 2012 she was awarded a Civil List Pension by the Queen for her services to the arts.[9]

In February 2016 she was in an episode of Channel 4's Britain's Weirdest Council Houses being filmed in her council flat in a tower block in the World's End Estate at the World's End area of Chelsea. Parkin moved into the flat in 2002 after she was declared bankrupt after a period of alcoholism.[10]


  1. ^ Glover, Michael (9 July 2010). "BP Portrait Award 2010, National Portrait Gallery, London". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Desert Island Discs with Molly Parkin". Desert Island Discs. 2011-05-08. BBC. Radio 4. 
  3. ^ "The Paper Round with Molly Parkin". The Paper Round. 2012-01-03. BBC. Radio 4. 
  4. ^ "Oh mum, PLEASE stop talking about your sex life!". Daily Mail. UK. 3 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  5. ^ "How we met: John Maybury & Molly Parkin". The Independent. UK. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  6. ^ "Sex and books: London's most erotic writers". TimeOut. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  7. ^ Cacciottolo, Mario (30 October 2010). "Molly Parkin: Fashioning her own career". BBC News. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  8. ^ 'Molly Parkin's racy confessions...", 10 October 2010
  9. ^ "Molly Parkin shocked to receive rare honour". Daily Telegraph. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  10. ^ 'Clive Martin meets the octogenarian artist whose wild social life has been as striking as her painting' - The Guardian 14 June 2014

External links[edit]