Paddy Kitchen

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Patricia Margaret Kitchen (23 May 1934 – 23 November 2005) was an English novelist, biographer and art critic.[1]

Born in Battersea to middle-class parents, she grew up in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. After rejecting an offer from Cambridge University she moved to London in 1954, working in a Mayfair advertising agency while moonlighting as a hat-check girl in the night club Le Club Contemporain. While working at the Royal College of Art she met the painter Frank Bowling when he was still a student there. They married in 1960 and had one son.[1] Kitchen was one of the women interviewed by Nell Dunn in Talking to Women (1965).[2]

After divorcing Bowling in the late sixties Kitchen went on to live with, and later marry, the writer Dulan Barber. Continuing to write novels, she also began writing non-fiction with biographies of Patrick Geddes and Gerard Manley Hopkins. In later life she bought a house in Barnwell, Northamptonshire, which became the subject of her book of the same name. She died on 23 November 2005.[1][3]

The novelist Bessie Head was a close friend. The pair corresponded from 1969 until Head's death in 1986[4][5] on a range of subjects, including Head's novel A Question of Power.[6]



  • Lying-In, 1965
  • A Fleshly School
  • Linsey-Woolsey: A novel, 1971
  • Paradise
  • (with Dulan Barber) Marriage Ring: A novel, 1977
  • A Pillar of Cloud, 1979
  • The Golden Veil, 1981
  • Blue Shoe, 1988


  • A Most Unsettling Person: An Introduction to the Ideas and Life of Patrick Geddes, 1975
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, 1978
  • Poets' London, 1980
  • Barnwell, 1985
  • The Way to Write Novels, 1995


  1. ^ a b c Ian Collins, Paddy Kitchen: Novelist at the heart of a bohemian world of arts and letters, The Guardian, 12 December 2005. Accessed 8 May 2019.
  2. ^ Kate Webb, Something to say for herself: hearing and recording female voices, Times Literary Supplement, 17 July 2018.
  3. ^ Nell Dunn, Talking To Women, Silver Press, 2018, ISBN 9780995716216
  4. ^ Elizabeth Venditti, Biography of Bessie Emery, South African History Online, 2017. Accessed 8 May 2019.
  5. ^ M. J. Daymond, ed., Everyday Matters: Selected Letters of Dora Taylor, Bessie Head and Lilian Ngoyi, 2015. ISBN 9781431409488.
  6. ^ M. J. Daymond, "I want to feel that I saw and thought all those things for a purpose": Bessie Head's letters to Paddy Kitchen about writing A Question of Power, Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa, Vol. 26, Issue 2 (2014).